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PAUSE Meets: Lolo Zouaï

By August 16, 2019Featured, Features, Music
PAUSE MEETS:

Lolo Zouaï

Setting herself up to win.

Styling: Kiera Liberati // @kieraliberati
Photographer: Paola Vivas // @paolavivasphotography
Interview by: Tom Barker // @toombarker
Special thanks to: Studio KL

“I didn’t want to need a label I just wanted to find people I trusted with my career.”

From a very millennial beginning being scooped up via her SoundCloud & social media presence, Lolo Zouaï fast went on to be signed by RCA and produce hits such as her breakout “High Highs to Low Lows” while, admirably, maintaining creative control throughout. From her album release to touring, thrifting and letting others take the wheel, PAUSE caught up with the rising talent.

Jacket: ROKIT VINTAGE, Bikini Top: MISS GUIDED, Track Pants: ICEBERG, Boots: DOC MARTENS, Earrings: FREEDOM @ TOPSHOP

When I first heard you it was through Kid Super, can you explain who that is and your relationship with them?

Kid Super was in the beginning a clothing brand, this guy Colm he started a clothing brand out of his college dorm room and then he started renting some floors in a building in Brooklyn and made it into a creative space and he made a recording studio in the basement where other artists can record and Russ was one of the first people to record there and then Doug my manager found me on Soundcloud and Instagram and brought me over to Kid Super and I ended up moving in and just working and recording High Highs to Low Lows in the basement.

Earrings: ATIKA, Hat, Bag, Jacket: XIAO LI, Skirts: DB BERDAN, Boots: EGO

How did you end up moving in?

I needed a place to live with my friend and I put it on Instagram: anyone have a room? And then they were like we do! And we were joking but it ended up happening.

What has been the biggest change over the last two years?

Really my whole life has changed completely! I used to be working at a restaurant, at a few restaurants, as a hostess or making drinks and stuff and I lived with my mum and I don’t want to say I was broke but… I was broke! Now I have my own apartment I can pay for my travel, I just signed to a label, I was independent, I took my time I really did. I think it’s just that now it’s my career and it makes me money.

Why did you take your time signing to a label? Where you cautious about it?

Yeah! I wanted to build my career first, I did three tours by myself independently, I was making my own merch and my streams and I didn’t need one at the time and I didn’t want to need a label I just wanted to find people I trusted with my career.

That’s the most important thing to me and so I recorded my whole album independently and then when I was done, which was about a month before it came out, I partnered with RCA.

What has been the proudest moment for you?

Probably releasing my album.

What’s the reaction been like to the album?

It’s been great and it’s like a gradual build-up. I didn’t expect it to go viral or blow up right away I think it’s the kind of thing people need to get to know me as an artist. It got reviewed on Pitchfork, it got a lot of great reviews and it was on Time magazine – one of the songs were on Time – so it been crazy to see how it’s taking over the world like in South Korea it’s been going off. Yeah, it’s crazy!

Glasses: VINTZ SHOP OPTICAL, Jacket: DB BERDAN, Jeans: PRETTY LITTLE THING, Trainers: NIKE

And you’ve been touring too?

Yeah, I did a 22 city tour in America and Canada and being able to go to a city I’ve never been to and hear people sing my songs and dress like me its really cool.

Do you have a favourite song to perform?

I really like to perform Chevy Impala. I don’t know why!

How was it trying to find your own sound?

It took a while because I think my actual true sound is when I’m producing in my bedroom on the computer and making something without over thinking it, that’s my truest sound. I never found a producer who was able to incorporate that and make it a better production until I met Stelios, so when I met Stelios I was able to develop my sound with him and so I would say its about a year and half, two years ago.

Do you feel comfortable in your sound now or is there somewhere else you want to take it?

I think that I’m always going to be evolving but I know what it is. I have more songs inside of me to make. You know what I mean?

Glasses: VINTZ SHOP OPTICAL, White Jacket: CHAMPION, Blue Co Ord: STYLIST OWN, Trainers: TOMMY HILFIGER, Earrings: FREEDOM @ TOPSHOP

Hair Clips: FREEDOM @ TOPSHOP, Earrings: FREEDOM @ TOPSHOP, Top: PUBLIC DESIRE, Jeans: THE LOBBY

How are you finding the UK?

I’ve been here for 4 days and its been good, everybody is so nice here, everyone is so sweet. I haven’t been able to enjoy a day off here but I want to. The weather is obviously a bit hormonal.

Are there any UK artists you’ve been listening to?

I feel like I don’t know them by name. Tertia May, she supported my last tour, I like J Hus, Col3trane and Eugy who has a song called LoLo that I love.

Do you remember the first song you wrote?

It was called Schools Out in elementary school but I don’t consider that the first real song. The first real song was when I was sixteen called if I had to choose, I wrote it on the guitar and I performed it for my talent show in high school and I won – my biggest accomplishment so far!

There are not any features on the album, was that on purpose?

I think so, first of all, I made the album while nobody kind of knew who I was. People started to find out who I was but I’m not popping yet so I thought it wouldn’t make sense to have any collaborations, I have collaborated with people in the past but I wanted my first album to just be me. So I think it just didn’t happen really, but I think one of the next steps in my career is working with more people.

How do you decide who to work with?

It’s just if I like their music and I feel like it fits my career path – and if I know them!

Earrings: FREEDOM @TOPSHOP, Top: DB BERDAN, Jacket: STYLIST OWN, Shorts: CHAMPION, Shoes: EGO

I know you’re very hands on with your music videos, what’s the process behind them?

I come up with a mood board, I come up with an idea usually. I have two sides to my videos sometimes they’re high quality and sometimes they’re pretty lo-fi because that’s kind of my sound, the way I dress, kind of everything in my life has a mix of the high and the low hence the album title. Sometimes we just go out and shoot on a VHS and sometimes I’m like okay I want to… Like for ride I had the idea for a motorcycle and all of that then I collaborate with the director and we make it work all together. I’m definitely going to be making more videos for the album throughout the year.

Could you give someone else all the creative powers for a video?

Right now I’m in the process of doing that, I think sometimes its important to do that. I try to do everything but then I realise it stresses me out and I can’t always do everything and I’m not going to be able to. So its finding people who really understand their vision, who can accomplish it.

Does being French and Algerian inform your music?

I think it gives it that extra flair, Arabic melodies are so beautiful and there’s a big influence of Arabic melodies in rap and early 2000s pop and I just wanted to do that as well because I listened to some rai music, which I the traditional music of Algeria that when it first started, Khaled was one of the first people to put out that kind of music and when it first started it was controversial and so in a sense I feel like its so great to embrace that because its part of my culture and blood. For the French I think just adding in a bit of French because I am bilingual is important to just show who I am I think its just a reflection of me.

Do you get to visit often?

Now I’ve been going back to France a lot because my music, they’re loving it there so I go to France a lot. I have only been to Algeria twice but hope to go back.

What would you say is an everyday outfit for you?

I would wear probably some Dickies, some baggy pants like men’s pants and a big oversized sports jacket like a Nascar jacket and some Dr Matins or Nike’s.

A lot of your styles vintage, how do you find those pieces?

I’m really good at thrifting, I have my select spots in New York that I go to. I find these jackets for like $10 and I actually found the jacket for my album cover on eBay! I bid and I won and it was $10. I really love thrifting and I don’t like going to curated thrift stores that are expensive because I feel that takes from the fun and the meaning of thrift. I also love it because it’s better for the environment to use older clothes instead of buying and consuming.

Are there any pieces you really want to find at a thrift?

I think there was. It was a black M&M’s NASCAR jacket that I really like and some Harley Davidson shirts that are rare but other than that its just about the fun. Sometimes I’ve gone out and looked for something and I’ve found it and I was like I’m too good at this! I don’t like going with anyone because they’ll find the stuff before me.

Has anyone in particular influenced your style?

I would say its more a city – San Francisco. Everyone there was so stylish there growing up and I would just watch people on the street.

Follow Lolo Zouaï on Instagram

Check out Lolo’s latest video Caffeine here or catch her live at XOYO London this coming November 5th.