The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Singer-Songwriter, Zella Day
By Gabriella Steffenberg
Zella Day is fresh off the June 2 release of her new album, Kicker. Filled with blends of dreamy folk, grungy-indie rock, a dash of country and catchy pop hooks, the album is treasure chest of musical gems with something all fellow music lovers can enjoy.
A native of Pinetop, Ariz., Day is now a Los Angeles dweller, rooming with musician and friend, Garrett Borns of BØRNS. Recently performing her single “High” on Conan, and receiving stellar coverage from Billboard, Nylon, Paste, V Magazine and more, Day is on the road to rock stardom.
WiMN: Congrats on your new album, Kicker. How does it feel to have your new songs out there for the world to hear?
ZD: It feels like I’ve had a breakthrough, and now I get to enter into an entirely new phase in my life that involves live performances.
WiMN: Which tracks do you hold the closest to your heart, and what was your experience while writing them?
ZD: The song of the record that always gets me is “Jameson.” That song was both started and finished with tears in my eyes. I wrote it during a time when I felt like I was losing myself. “Jameson” reintroduced me to my core belief system.
WiMN: How has your songwriting progressed as you’ve grown?
ZD: Each year that goes by is full of positive and negative life-altering experiences. I’m growing rapidly as a person as I am entering into my 20s, and the more I get to know myself, the more I have to say. In the past three years my songwriting has emotionally progressed, making it more relatable.
WiMN: Who do you love collaborating with in the studio?
ZD: My two producers Wally Gagel and Xandy Barry have been with me every step of the way. I consider them to be my band – they are the ones I spend my time with in the studio hashing out songs.
WiMN: Have there been any women in your life who have inspired you to take the musical journey that you’re on?
ZD: My mother is a very talented vocalist. I watched her perform in a jazz standard band when I was growing up, and she inspired me with the soul that she poured into every song she sang.
WiMN: Your stage presence is magnetic and you always seem to be fully in the moment while performing, with your recent Conan performance as a perfect example. Do you have any advice to musicians out there who struggle with stage fright?
ZD: You have to be completely in the moment without thinking about other people. The only thing that matters on stage is the relationship between you and the song you are playing.
WiMN: Your voice is so unique, and is a bit reminiscent of Stevie Nicks. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
ZD: I’m a Stevie Nicks fan as I am a fan of the Jackson 5, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones, Violent Femmes, Edie Brickell… The list goes on and on.
WiMN: Do you have a specific time period in music that you find inspires you the most?
ZD: The late ’60s early ’70s era!
WiMN: Have you faced any adversity in the music industry related to your gender?
ZD: There is a stereotype that comes along with girls that play pop music, but I’m proving myself every step of the way with each song I write and each show I play. I’m not worried about being held down because I’m a female when there have been so many strong women that have made a name for themselves in the industry.
WiMN: This past year you’ve performed at a couple of festivals and have played various shows and venues across the states. Did you have any favorite performances that were truly memorable?
ZD: I just played a show in Telluride, Colo., where I was legitimately singing out to the mountains. The festival was at the base of a huge summit and everyone was basking in the sunshine, singing along to my songs.
WiMN: What are your plans for the rest of 2015 through 2016?
ZD: I have a music video that I’m shooting for “High” on Friday so keep your eyes out for that! I’ve also got a ton of shows coming up around the country that extend all the way to the end of the year… I will definitely be coming to a city near you. xoxo.