Star on the Rise: Interview with Zaya Marz
Zaya Marz is a young, up-and-coming singer/songwriter from Brooklyn, New York. She is currently a sophomore at Boston University and I had the opportunity to sit down with the rising artist and learn more about her music and the woman behind it all.
Dani: I'm just going to jump right in. What did the start of your career look like?
Zaya: I took a gap year. I graduated high school in 2020, and then I took a gap year, and I wrote and recorded my first album. That was really the first time that I just worked on music and realized that that was my passion and that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That album isn't out yet. That's what I'm currently scheduling to release. Just like working on it: that really made me realize it was what I wanted to do.
D: And what was it like releasing your first single?
Z: It was a little scary because it's like my baby going out into the world. I think, for me, making music is about connecting with people and having people relate to my songs. I was really excited to release it and have people respond to it and feel it the way that I want them to. So it was really exciting, but I would say definitely a little scary.
D: Do you have a set date for your album yet?
Z: I do! I plan on releasing my album on March 2nd.
D: That's so exciting! I also heard you're working on a music video. How has that been?
Z: I am. I actually just filmed it this past weekend! It was really, really fun. I had Matthew Gin, who is a fellow BU student, edit, and then I had my friend Logan come record it. And then I had a team of creatives that I actually met at Noise Complaint, which is kind of like a creative mixer event that BU hosts with Northeastern. That was really, really fun. And that's where I met my team. The video’s looking great. I'm really excited. I plan on releasing that January 27th-ish.
D: And what has your creative process looked like throughout your album?
Z: I mean, once I finished the album, I wanted to try to create some visuals for it. I feel like having a music video to accompany a song can really allow the message to come across more. I've been trying to put together visuals for the songs and really spread out the release process so that I can generate more content and really allow more people to connect with my work through different mediums. Like I said, I think combining music and visuals, like visual art, is really important and cool.
D: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Z: I'm always listening to music. I have a wall of my favorite albums. It's basically SZA, Mac Miller, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar. I'm very inspired by indie R&B and rap. So a whole lot of artists! I would say listening to music really inspires me. And then also, just like my life experiences, I write what I know. So everything that I write is what I've been through. It's like my coping mechanism.
D: Any particular, life experiences you like writing about? For example, relationships, stuff like that?
Z: Yeah. Usually my motto is, if I get my heart broken, it's okay if I can write a bop about it. It's a lot of dealing with tougher emotions that come with heartbreak or loss. And that's just my way of processing feelings before I have words for them. Sometimes I have a melody idea for how something makes me feel before I have the words to express what I'm going through.
D: I love that. What are your goals for your music career?
Z: Honestly, while I'm still in school and young, I just want to keep trying to figure out what my sound is and grow my following. I really want to tap into the live performance scene in Boston. I went to a lot of house shows which are super, super cool. I think for the spring, that's my goal to really try to tap into that. But in general, I’m so young, so just having room for growth and being excited for the future is all I can do right now.
D: And you transferred schools. So how did your transition to BU go in regard to your music journey?
Z: Obviously, that's the main reason that I left my old school. There were not as many opportunities to really pursue my music the way that I wanted to. So I knew coming to Boston that there was just going to be ample opportunity. It's just been night and day. I feel so much happier being in the city and being around music and a bunch of creatives and artists. Boston is so cool because every time I meet somebody, it's like a new school. And I didn't even realize. There are just so many schools and so many kids. It’s been awesome to be able to connect with all of these creatives and really start building a team here.
D: In what ways have you been involved in the Boston music scene?
Z: I think just because this was my first semester here, I’ve mainly been a watcher. I've been going to like three house shows a weekend, just trying to get to know the scene. And then kind of networking, talking to musicians, seeing if they want to jam. It looks like I've started to
put together a group that I might be able to perform with soon, which I'm very excited about. That has all come from putting myself out there and talking to everybody I can and trying to find other people that are hungry to collaborate and grow.
D: This is my favorite question to ask. If you could collaborate with anybody dead or alive, who would it be? If you need a minute to think, that’s okay! [Laughs.]
Z: [Laughs.] This is such a heavy question. Okay. Okay. I think I would want to do Kid Cudi.
D: That's a really good answer.
Z: I think Kid Cudi is just so cool. And I think we would make a banger. Yeah, Kid Cudi.
D: Would you say that you would be open to moving into more rap ever?
Z: I would say because it influences me so much, yeah! [Laughs.] Definitely, more like, singy-rap. Not like, full on, I’m rapping. I'm very inspired by the flow. The flow of rap really inspires the way that I write. I think I do want to lean more into the R&B direction, for sure. I would say my new album is a little bit more on the indie side. Definitely in the future, I see myself moving more towards R&B.
D: How do you get involved with singing? Has it been a thing you've wanted to do since you were a child, or did it become more of a thing when you were a teenager?
Z: I would say, for me, music started as a kind of coping mechanism. I lost my dad when I was ten, and he had kind of shown me music, he was the one who would put me on. And so when he passed away, music was my way of connecting with him. I like to think of my voice as a sort of parting gift from him. It just started as a coping mechanism and then turned into a passion. And now it's just my favorite thing to do. It's what I want to do with my life.
D: Wow. That's amazing. What is the best piece of advice another musician has ever given you?
Z: Honestly, probably to collaborate. I think that it's a big mistake in this industry to be afraid of what inspires you. I think that's where you learn to grow and and where you make the most fun and interesting stuff. So I think being told not to be afraid of my mentors and of the people around me, I just want to want to learn from them and want to create with them.
D: And what advice would you give to other young, aspiring artists?
Z: I would say, don't be afraid to put yourself out there. There's really nothing to lose. I think at the end of the day, if you make music for yourself and if you make music because you love to do it, that's all that matters. And if you connect with a few people along the way, it's dope. But I think it's not about what anybody else thinks. It's about just putting your heart and soul into what you love to do. And I think that goes for really anything, any creative medium, any passion. If you have something you want to do, just do it.
D: How do you manage your work-life balance? Because you're a college student, you have a lot going on. How do you manage to fit music into that?
Z: It's tough. I think for me, I see music as almost a reward. If I do my homework, then I can play the guitar and I can write a little something. I think when I see music as something to look forward to, then I just get more excited when I do have time. I think I value my time more when I know that I don't have that much of it.
D: Tell me a little bit more about your upcoming album. What motivated you to create it, and how do you think it will affect your audience?
Z: This album was really about my journey toward self-love. I've definitely written a lot about heartbreak and relationships. This album is me coming to terms with the idea that I pour so much of myself into my relationships. And for me, music is where I give back to myself. It's where I can really feel like I'm giving and getting. Everything I out in, I get out because it's my way of processing and my way of being myself. So I really want people to be able to connect
with the sentiment that sometimes it's easier to love other people than it is to love yourself. But if you take the time to really try, you can surprise yourself. I mean, I definitely did. I didn't think that I would get to a place where I feel really confident in myself and my music. And that was all because I took a chance on myself. I would really want my audience to feel like they could do the same.
D: I love that. My last question is, do you have a dream venue to play?
Z: I really want to play at the Sinclair. I feel like it's just so cute, and I really love intimate venues like that. Obviously, if I can fill Madison Square Garden someday, that would be insane. But there is something about playing in a more intimate setting and really feeling like you're connecting with everybody.
D: The Sinclair's a great space.
D: Do you have anything else you want to add?
Z: I'm dropping my next single on January 20th. It's my birthday, so you are obligated to stream! [Laughs.] I'm just really excited.
You can follow her on Instagram, Spotify and Youtube.