Zola Blood

A few weeks back, we knocked on Zola Blood’s virtual door, in hopes of shedding some light on this previously mysterious group. With little information out there, many were inquiring about who was behind this chart-topping hit, “Grace,” which climbed its way up the Hype Machine charts. With droves of music enthusiasts enamored and eager to learn more, we’re overwhelmingly excited to be the ones who get to deliver.

TMN: Hey man/guys/ladies and gentleman. Sorry for the generic intro there, but we’re not really quite sure who we’re talking to! Usually we have some research to base our interviews off of, so forgive us if these questions are a little basic!

ZB: Haha, no worries that’s how we like them.

There’s four of us. Matt (vocals/guitar), Ed (Synth), Sam (drums) and Rob (guitar).

TMN: Let’s kick things off by talking to us about how you got into what the world has come to know as Zola Blood. How did you guys come to be?

Zola Blood was born in October last year, after a few months sharing dodgy iPhone recordings between the four of us. We found a little box studio out in Hackney Wick and have been writing, recording and procrastinating out there ever since.

TMN: Where did the name stem from? Any hidden references we should know about?

ZB: Well we’re not Chelsea fans and we’re not deep into French literature.

We had a bit of a convoluted naming process, as many bands do. You can easily get tripped up on names and get bogged down with connotations, but we just felt the two words ran well together and there’s a subtle melody to it that we liked.

TMN: With a heavy electronic influence, we’re curious to know who inspired you throughout the years? Aside from the synth-heavy production, you also are highly focused on a vocal musical journey. Who are some of your favourite artists?

ZB: The Last Resort by Trentemoller is an album that gets played a lot in our studio. So does Jon Hopkin’s last record – we saw him at Glastonbury and he was incredible. We want to write pop songs, so a vocal that’s compelling and evocative is important. Arthur Russell, Caribou, anything from Thom Yorke. All those artists manage to write electronic music in a way that still gives it soul.

TMN: “Grace” has an overwhelming ethereal vibe to it, easily taking listeners to another place. What was the thought process behind the craft of this song? Did you work on the instrumentals first, or was this born out of the lyrics?

We spend a lot of time exchanging ideas, playing stuff live in the studio before a song really starts to appear. We can be quite fickle on how we feel about a part or a sound from one day to the next, so we record every idea and reduce them down before something that feels right begins to emerge.

“Grace” started off with just a beat and the vocal line and we built the rest of the track around it. It’s changed a lot from the first version, we had a sitar in there at one point, but it didn’t make in. The arpeggiator after the first chorus and the big synth at the end came in the last couple of days of writing, they’re two of my favourite parts.

There’s never really much of a master plan, it’s unpredictable and disorderly – but that’s how we like to work.

TMN: Based on the general lack of information in out there on you, we have to ask – what made you guys go the mysterious route? Was it intentionally sought after to put a focus on your music?

ZB: I’m not sure we want to be particularly mysterious but, as you say, if you hold back a little the music becomes the focus and that’s a good thing. People can fill the gaps how they want to and there’s been some pretty funny stuff written about who we might be.

TMN: “Grace” performed tremendously on the Hype Machine, racking up a couple thousand hearts. Do you personally pay attention to the blogosphere and online rankings such as hype machine?

ZB: We’re definitely more aware of all of that now – the interest we got there and on the blogs was great, especially after being locked away writing for such a long time. It’s some sort of vindication I guess.

TMN: We have to assume that “Grace” is a part of a whole. What can we expect coming up from you in the future?

ZB: We’re streaming our next single “Meridian” this week and we’ve got a couple of remixes floating around that we’re pretty excited about too, one by a talented Berlin producer called Applescal. The EP will be released in October and we’re going to be playing our first show in the same month too, so watch out for that.

TMN: Thank you so much for taking some time to answer a few questions! We can’t wait to hear your next track!

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