One of the best parts of wandering the Coachella grounds is the discovery of new music. In today’s crowded digital music field, live performance is the true measure of an artist’s staying power, and there is no greater equalizer than Coachella.
A Weekend One standout was Zella Day, whose debut performance at the Indio fest was hypnotic. This 20-year-old desert child was born in Pinetop, Arizona, and moved to Los Angeles four years ago. Her first full length record, Kicker, is a psychedelic-pop success which channels the spaghetti western shades of the state she calls home.
We caught up with Day backstage last weekend to talk her first Coachella, spotting Guy Fieri, and her dream collab. You can catch her set Saturday, April 23 at 4:15 p.m. at the Outdoor Theater.
COACHELLA WAS EVERYTHING SHE HOPED FOR
“It was everything I was visualizing for months leading up to it. So it was perfect. Got a stage with a view—Ferris wheel, mountain range. It was perfect.”
SHE BELIEVES IN THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN GOAL
“It was a goal in mind to play Coachella. I moved out to California four years ago, and every year my friends go to Coachella. I said I wouldn’t go unless I was playing. So I wanted to set the goal, and now I’m here. And I brought all of my friends with me, got them all VIP passes, and got to really take care of my people, so it’s been really nice and satisfying. It’s a beautiful adventure and so cool to be backstage with some of my favorite artists. And there’s good food and beer and sunshine, so you can’t really ask for anything more.”
SHE DOESN’T GET CAUGHT UP IN CELEBRITY WATCH
“Everybody’s schedules are so different. I saw Guy Fieri backstage. I would never have expected to see that person. It’s very random. I saw Max Martin, which was a good one. Just across the board, it’s an interesting collective of people.”
SHE LEAVES THE CRAZY TO THE EXPERTS
“I watched Ice Cube with all my friends and had good wine in the trailer. It’s been mellow. I’m a pretty mellow, non-shenanigan kind of girl. For me, coming to a festival like this, it’s really important to me to keep my head on straight and be professional because I want to be invited back. So I’m just taking it with ease and being smart about how much energy I spend during the day. Tonight I’m going to see as much music as I can.”
HER COACHELLA MUST SEES ARE…
“I’m really excited to see Chris Stapleton. He’s one of my favorites. His record last year, I think, was amazing. I mean, it was! It won a Grammy for Best Country Record for the year. I’m excited to see The 1975. Also excited to see Sia—I love Sia.”
MUSICALLY, SHE PREFERS TO JUST BE HERSELF
“I wasn’t listening to a lot of music during the creation of Kicker because I was so set on the fact that I was going to have this big release and it was going to be my debut record. I didn’t want it to sound like anybody else but me. It’s really hard because when you get into the studio and you’re writing everyday, if you’re listening to other people’s records it will influence the way that you write, no matter which way you turn it. So I wasn’t listening to a lot of music when I wrote the record.”
SHE’S A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY, A LITTLE BIT ROCK AND ROLL
“I am really influenced by Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks. I’ve been listening to a lot of Lou Reed. I love Miike Snow’s new record. I’m into old country. I love June Carter. I just love music—the Beatles!”
FRANK OCEAN IS HER DREAM COLLABORATION
“I’m crossing my fingers because he hasn’t put out a [new] record yet and everybody’s like, ‘Where’s your record Frank?’ Maybe he’s just waiting for me to topline on one of his tracks [laughs]. I love the way he tells a story, his cadence, his use of language and sounds. I really respect him. I think our styles would actually blend really well together, so he’s a dream collaboration.”
Not at Coachella? Catch Zella Day back in Southern California in August.