In a music industry landscape where seemingly everything sounds the same, LA powerhouse singer songwriter ZZ Ward stands apart. At the young age of twelve, Ward got her musical start by performing in her dad’s blues band at dive bars around Oregon where she grew up. Mixing her early blues influences with a love of hip hop and an undeniable talent for writing songs, Ward now creates music so unique it draws no parallel. After releasing a superb mixtape last year featuring a relatively fresh-faced Kendrick Lamar, Ward delighted fans and critics alike with her debut album Til The Casket Drops. Lamar is once again featured on the outstanding album, as well as Fitz & the Tantrums and Freddie Gibbs. I tracked Ward down in the midst of tour as she gears up to rock Denver at The Gothic Theatre on May 29. The gifted musician gladly filled me in on her debut album, protecting her incredible voice, and finding inspiration in books.
How do you like performing in Denver? Are the fans good to you? What's the best (or maybe weirdest) thing about Denver?
I love performing in Denver. Denver is one of those standout cities for me that I've felt so much love from since the very first time I played there. The fans know what they like and they don't care what anyone else thinks. We have so much fun when we're there. The elevation is a little crazy in terms of singing. I'm fine doing it, but afterwards my band and I always talk about how we feel it!
Til The Casket Drops is superb. What was your goal for your debut album?
Thank you! I think just putting out a record in general is an incredible experience in itself. I'm very thankful that people have really embraced my sound and how different I am. That's all I could really ask for on this first record.
Are there any songs on there that you were initially uneasy about releasing for one reason or another?
Yes. All of them. You never know how people are going to react to your music, and I knew it was a really different sound. I wasn't sure how it would sit with people, but it's been the best reaction that I could have ever hoped for.
What's the strangest thing to inspire a song?
The strangest thing is probably a situation that had nothing to do with myself, like seeing a movie or reading a book. I read this book one time and I wrote a song about it, which was strange mainly because someone else’s words affected me so much that it's weird to use that.
You've worked with some powerhouse industry veterans such as Fitz & the Tantrums and Kendrick Lamar. What's the best advice that a veteran has given you?
Fitz gave me an idea to use a certain kind of lozenge when I was sick for my throat that was really helpful. It's a secret I can't give it away!
You and your music are getting a lot of exposure on television and elsewhere. Do you get a lot of old "friends" crawling out of the woodwork and contacting you?
Yes I definitely do and it's funny because some people, especially people I went to high school with (and I wasn't that cool in high school) want to hang out and I think, 'Why do you want to hang out with me now? I'm still a dork'.
Your voice is absolutely stunning. How do you take care of it, on the road especially?
Thank you so much. I don't smoke and I don't really drink on the road, which might not make me the most fun person to party with, but I really make a point to take care of my voice.
If you could have anyone as the #1 fan of your music who would it be and why?
Don't miss ZZ Ward on Wednesday, May 29 at The Gothic Theater. Tickets for the all ages show are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Doors open at 7:00 pm and the show starts at 8:00 pm. Supporting Ward will be You, Me, and Apollo and Martin Harley.