written by Holly Arend // Feb 9th, 2023
photos via Dylan Gue
Hi! Thanks for your time; tell us a bit about who you are!
I'm Zoe. I'm 19. I am a nepo baby pop star, which is my thing. I feel like right now, even though I know nepotism isn't really valid for my case, I feel like it's funny, and I would love to be a pop star. I guess I'm working on music right now. Not I guess, but I am working on music. I'm probably the most creative person that I've met in my whole life. I think I was destined to be in the industry just because my brain processes things, and yeah, I don't think anyone else's brain really functions the way that mine does, whether it's musically or like marketing-wise. I just think that the industry needs someone young.
You just teased a new single, DTF. What is the backstory behind the song?
So this is a little of a crazy thing, but DTF kind of just came to me when I worked with my amazing producer. His name is Kerim. He is fantastic. We were in the studio, and this was my first time working in an actual studio. I'd worked with friends who'd been producers, but anyone can say they produce. And I was so nervous. And he got in there, and instead of making me sing, he got in there and turned up the autotune because he can't sing. He just produces. And he starts singing these random words and putting in a random melody to this crazy beat that we had just spent 2 hours making. And he starts going, like, better. And then I went, I wish he'd turn me on, but his best friend gets me wetter, and the whole room starts laughing. And I'm like, wait, that's a solid line. And DTF was kind of just like, if you know me, you know that I am pretty much down for anything toxic. I don't really care for commitment, but obviously, when it comes with, like, no strings attached, straight-up sex, and it's relatable, it's like, oh shit. Like, what rhymes with better and forever? And I was like, DTF. It's like, does it rhyme? Not really. Are we going to make it work? Absolutely. So the back story was just kind of like it wasn't intentional for it to be that. But, like, when I started writing about it, it just like all made so much sense, you know. It was like, what can I? What can I make this about? And how can I fit the word, the phrase DTF into making sense about a song about this girl who is down for anything because she wants the attention or doesn't want the complications of being in a relationship but wants the toxic side?
What did the creative process look like for this single?
Yeah. So I met with my producer again and was like, this is my first time meeting him. Actually, the studio I work at, or where I have been doing my work at, is owned by my cousin, which is such a blessing for me because studios in New York City are not cheap. Like, people actually charge, like, 500 an hour in some places. And for a studio with this nice of a setup, I'm very lucky that I have this outlet again. I was working with a lot of producers who weren't legit and were just like, yeah, I produce. Yeah, I can make music for you. Okay. But I definitely have found who I work well with and who makes me creative. And I've only made one song with Kerim, but I can see myself, like, writing lyrics in my free time and coming up with things and texting him, like, things for a verse. Because right now, our second verse isn't done. Because I haven't really had time to sit down with him and be like, yo, what should we put here? And actually, after the first four sessions of the song, he just would throw me in the booth, and I would just sing. And I want to listen to something and produce something and make something that makes me feel like this. So I would say creative process-wise, literally threw me in there and was like, do your thing. Keep this in the back of your mind. Know how they did this and know what came out of that. And don't be afraid to fuck up. Because every take was not perfect. There were probably 50 takes of almost every word or every phrase that I redid because I didn't like the vowel I sing it on or whatever. So, yeah, the creative process is different for, I think, every project. But for this one specifically, it was just like a tried and hope for the best because that's really what it was.
What would you want fans to take away from DTF?
I think it's more like women should feel able to please their sexual desires without having to feel like they're easy for doing so, is what I mean. There's nothing wrong with wanting to please yourself and doing that with someone else, especially if they're bad for you, if you're in it for your own benefit. And it's like, I know he did me wrong, but I'm DTF forever. It's like, well, you know you shouldn't be there, but you're there anyways. And it's kind of like, it's okay to slip up, girl, yeah, you know you shouldn't be there, but sometimes it's too good, and it happens. And I think obviously, as much as it is like nonsense, kind of like, girl, fuck it. Okay. I was making sure it has a deeper meaning. It's kind of like, well, yeah, he's done me wrong, and I've cried multiple days in a row for him, but I don't care. I'm going to go back to him, and I'm going to enjoy myself. That's really what it is. And it's also kind of like knowing you deserve better, but who cares? It's kind of like it's a late-night call. It's a booty call. And it's like, you're the one doing the booty call. It's like, Boy, don't hit my line. Just pull up on me. It's like; I don't care. Pull up on me whenever. It doesn't matter. I kind of think it's like, take it as you will it's. Take it however you want to take it and apply it to yourself. Because listen, it could have ten different meanings. If you listen to it six different times, you'd be like, Shit. It could kind of mean this. But it's also like a nonsense horny song. So it could mean ten different things. And I kind of wanted that. I kind of wanted the lyric.
Q. If you were to describe DTF to someone who has never heard your music before, how would you describe it?
Horny Mess. I think this song is like the song is like I said, it's a nonsensey, sexy, late-night text song. And, like, if you've never heard DTF before, you should listen because it's relatable. It's relatable, and it's real and apparent. And something women struggle with, I would say, is like having a sex drive. Like, you are allowed to have a sex drive. You are allowed to want to have sex. It's normal, and nobody talks about it. And when a girl makes like a 34, 35, they're like, Ariana Grande thinks she's a sex icon. She is. She is and should be. And let's put that into music. Women should be able to listen to a feel-good sex song and be able to be like, shit. I feel this. This is okay. That I feel this. I wanted it to be like a sexy, nonsense song about sex. And that's what it is.
Q. You stated you yourself are a fan and want to give back to that community as an artist; how are you going to achieve this?
I think the number one thing that I have experienced is my favorite artists and celebrities just like being like; they just don't care. They just don't care. I have met so many of my favorite people, and they give nothing. How could you, as an artist, not want to speak to the people that pay your bills and that are buying your tour tickets? I think my number one thing; if I had a following that actually would like because I have a following if I had a following of people that would actually want to come see me live, I would make sure to take every picture full body selfie with flash, without flash, with every single person. I don't care what time my flight is. Book another one. I don't care. It bothers me so much as a fan myself, I was at a concert on Monday night, and these people walked past us going to their car. We were outside, it was like 20 degrees in New York City, and they went straight to their car. And I was like, dude, we've been here since ten in the morning outside of the venue to see you, and you're just going to get in your car? Are you kidding? Like, that kills me. I think giving back to the community is like the easiest part of being an artist. And I get it. There are mental health issues and anxiety that come with it. And if you need to prioritize yourself as an artist, you do so. But to me, that just doesn't correlate. I don't understand. I see artists say, like, for my mental health, there's going to be no VIP. Meeting somebody in the past few weeks of sending my music to my friends and having them tell me, like, dude, this is dope. If I could hear that from someone who I've never met before, and not just like my friend who's saying it because they're my friend, that would genuinely be one of the best feelings in the world. So I cannot imagine how an artist can get tired of that to the point where they don't want to meet every person standing outside a venue after the show. That is just mind-blowing to me. I think the question is, how are you going to achieve this? By making sure that every person is happy. And as much as that's obviously impossible, do your best. I don't think they've realized because a lot of these things are people who were never fans. They're fans of people, but they were never camping outside venues, and they never had to pay for meat and greet. They don't know what it's like. So why do we expect them to give that back to us? But I think the industry needs someone who understands what it's like to wait in the cold and not eat for 10 hours or not drink because you can't pee in a venue. Whereas they're backstage eating their favorite food and having a list of needs that they send to the venue. And it's like, dude; your fans are out here not eating because they're afraid to go to the bathroom and lose their spot in line. And you're going to make them wait 40 minutes after the show just to get in your car. They didn't eat for 12 hours. Send them food. Send them food while they're waiting in line. Or go get them Starbucks. You can afford it. It's just like putting the fans first before the way you feel. I think as an artist is one of the most important things. It's just so mind-blowing to me that artists will take away VIP when they know that's something that fans look forward to. And I wouldn't even charge for that. I think that's ridiculous. And if I did, it would be so close to the original price because I just think, like, paid meet-and-greets are so bizarre. I don't know. I just would love to give back by prioritizing the people that are there for me over myself. I just think as I said, mental health is completely different. But give back to those people that got you where you are in order to say that all the time. You pay my bills. They literally pay your bills. They pay your bills. You have water. Think about it. And it's very frustrating to me. It's very frustrating to me. So I would love to give back to the community who has actually camped outside, and as myself, who has, I would give back by just making sure that everyone is meeting whoever they want to meet and getting out of it whatever they want. And I just think concerts are different for everyone. But even as an artist, making sure you're interacting with fans makes someone's day. Like getting a like on Twitter, it takes 2 seconds. You can like three tweets at once. You can go like this and like three tweets. It takes 2 seconds. Go on Twitter for ten minutes a day and go talk to your fans. It's the bare minimum.
Q. Speaking about fans, how has it been interacting with them on social media?
Okay, I have had a following for literally as long as I can remember. I don't know what it is that I was so fantastic at keeping up the numbers since I was like eleven. I've literally had a fan account since I was like ten, whether it be for, like, I actually had an account when I was nine on Instagram, which is probably illegal. I was running a little less pet shop Instagram account that to this day has 10,000 followers. I was eleven. So I had fans. I had people who were on standby for a post. So then, when I kind of navigated to Twitter and I became friends with all of these famous people, and I had people interact with me because of who I associated with, I had people making fan accounts for me. So I've had fans for as long as I can remember. I've had literal accounts with usernames with my name in them. So interacting with fans, I would say, hasn't been something that I've done recently. But also, like, everywhere I go to a concert because people know me for being at these concerts and for being close to these artists, people are like, are you Zoe? Everywhere I go, it's like, are you Zoe? I follow you on Twitter. It's like literally everywhere I go, it's like, yo, I know who you are. But I think as far as music, when I posted the snippet on Instagram, and the engagement went crazy. And I'm talking crazy. For me, I don't think 1200 likes is a lot. It's a lot of people that are like a venue full in New York. But I don't think that's like that many people compared to a lot of other engagement that artists are getting. But I think as someone who averages like 600, having 1000 people be so excited about my music is so heartwarming to me. And the past two weeks have made me feel better about my work and actually confident, and I don't need the validation. But seeing people so excited has just been so amazing for me. So I think as far as the term fan, I don't know that I have many, but I know that there are people who are dying to listen. And I think that when it gets released, people will come in and go from there. But that is just as far as that goes. The engagement that I've gotten the past two weeks about the song is so phenomenal, and I'm very excited to see how people react to it when it's out.
Q. Describe your journey in music so far and your goals.
So my journey in music literally started when I was like four. My parents were throwing me in some random theater company stuff. I was going to day camp and I would always want to watch the music stuff and always singing along to the Disney princess stuff, just like, I loved Ariel when I was younger, and my dad and I are very close and love ocean things. So I love The Little Mermaid, and that was just like my favorite thing. And I would. Since I lived in New York, I was seeing Broadway shows every other week. When I was younger, it was like, oh, like, you want to go see The Lion King? Let's go. So I was always seeing Broadway shows. I saw The Little Mermaid. I saw every Disney show that could possibly have been on Broadway I have seen. So I was very conditioned to musical theater. And then when I got to elementary school, I did Annie; I did The Aristocrats, I was in that. And then middle school, I was in musical theater throughout all of middle school and all of high school, always getting a lead. I was just very conditioned to be in the spotlight in music, so I was definitely trained. . And I wouldn't say I'm so much in love with doing musical theater. I think when there's a show that I really like, my favorite show I've ever done is A Chorus Line. I played Sheila. She is like the most me character ever. I really resonate with pop music, but not so much with musical theater. It's definitely something I do for fun, something that I learned a lot from. But I definitely don't see myself, like, goal-wise, in musical theater. I see myself more of, like, in the pop area, the R and B area, kind of just like around that. In the future, I would hope. Goal-wise, obviously, I didn't know that I was even going to make a song up until three months ago, so that kind of just happened for me, which is a whole story to get him to another time. But, yeah, it just kind of, like, happened. So I don't know that my goals are crazy. I think I would love to put out another song and hope that this one does well. The marketing major in me wants this to perform well on TikTok to hopefully grasp that audience. Who's going to hear this and be like, oh, this is a great transition moment, or like, back camera, flash video, this is going to be perfect for this moment. So, goal-wise, I would love for it to perform well on TikTok. I have a lot of networking experience, and I have a lot of great friends with platforms, so I do foresee the song performing well there at least grabbing new listeners. The goal for this song is definitely to get a feel for what people like, and if they like this, I'll work on something that's a little bit similar. If not, maybe people are like, yo, we want to hear something like this. And I just want to hear what they want, and I'll cook it up with Kerim in the studio and go from there.
Q. What is this new era of Zoe bringing to fans?
That's a good question. The new era? I wouldn't say it's a new era. I would say, I mean, I guess the song is a new era. Maybe it's just the pop star era. It's like, I know I've always had a following, and now I'm finally doing something with it and about it. So maybe it's like yeah, this is the pop star era, but I think the song won't like surprise anyone lyrically. Maybe the melody will because people know that I can sing. So music is not new for my followers, but it's like, oh shit, she's really she's really doing something with this, is definitely a little bit new. I think, era-wise, it's just like a mature era. It's like different than like, oh, like she's not like waiting to hear a song live, like in a venue, she's the one singing the song this time. And I feel like that hopefully will inspire a lot of people to want to do the same thing as me, because I know there's a ton of fans who would love to put out music who sing, who just like don't do it, Because they just like don't know where to start, they don't know who to work with. They just like are very unsure of what direction to go in, and also, studios are expensive. So it's a lot deeper than like that, but hopefully, the new pop star quote unquote era, you know, brings a lot of inspiration to people. I think I'm very lucky that I was handed this space to have a music outlet with my cousin and with the studio because again, that's not something every new artist can afford. A lot of people start with garage band type of music because they have no funds and no outlet. And I'm very lucky that I was literally handed that. That's not something that everyone gets. I'm trying to take it with a grain of salt and be very thankful and taking it and running with it because nobody gets this opportunity for no reason.
Q. Is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming music you're working on?
Yes. I, the other day, had like a musical... What's the word? I just had a moment where I was like, yo, I thought of this word, this phrase if you will, and I was like, let's write a song called Emotional Bender. And that is definitely an idea I want to build off, maybe not so much of a title, but more of like the emotions behind that. I think that's like something I would love to put out is, kind of like just talking more about something like emotional, but also like maybe it could be anger as an emotion. Like, just definitely getting into more emotions rather than just sex. And I feel like having a song about sex is great when you're talking about sex, but nobody really takes into like the feeling that comes from that. And I feel like I can't even say that I'm not working on Emotional Bender because I'm writing it. You know, that's what's happening. Yeah, that's hopefully what's coming next. And more to follow depending on how people react to that song and to DTF and people like the ideas that I have and who I work with, and we'll see from there because honestly, I don't really know what I'm doing after that. Maybe I'll run out of ideas, or maybe I'll come up with 10 different new songs, so we will see. Love that.