Focus: Zela | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Who are you?
We’re ZELA (it’s pronounced ZEL-LA); a sibling duo comprised of Liv and Max Griff from Bishop Auckland.

What is it you do?
We make Dark Electronic-Pop. For fans of Charli XCX/Grimes/The Weeknd. Max is a drummer, Liv is a singer, and together we’ve used samples, synths, sound effects and vocal production on Liv’s voice to create our own unique sound.

How long have you been doing it?
ZELA was first conceptualised about a year ago. We were working on new music and found that it was electronic-heavy, as it was being written mainly on a MacBook in dressing rooms. It was important that we really believed in what we were creating, so we spent some time working out of Homefire Studios in Harrogate where we really developed our sound and solidified what ZELA was about. 

It was around then that our Mam had a really vivid dream that we were on stage playing a show, and the backdrop behind us had ‘ZELA’ emblazoned across it. She woke up in the middle of the night and scribbled it across the top of a Q magazine by her bed, which I’ve still got. As soon as we heard the name we loved it.

We’ve both been involved with music since we were really young; our Dad is a musician and spent his career between touring bands and writing music for other people, so we were both immersed in music pretty much immediately. 

What inspires you?
We spent loads of time travelling when we were younger due to our musical upbringing, and were exposed to different types of music and people early on. I think that has definitely inspired us both to want to work within the music industry. We had our first band by the time we were in our early teens and the more immersed in music we became, the more it inspired us to create. 

Liv is inspired by different types of art, like poetry/film/characters and approaches songwriting from a different angle to Max, which works really well when we collaborate on our music. Max, as co-producer/programmer, is influenced by a lot of electronic music, from Alt-80s to modern EDM, which I think is where the drum-loop/sample aspect of our sound originated. Our different influences work well together, and we always try to create something that we would listen to ourselves, but something we haven’t heard before. 

Tell us about your work.
I think the ‘Dark’ element of ‘Dark Electronic-Pop’ is really crucial in understanding our sound. We love the feeling of tension within music, especially when the lyrics are exploring uncomfortable topics. We try to balance that tension with these lush, nostalgic pads and electronic sounds. Some of our favourite songs are those that immediately inspire dramatic action. We like to replicate that intensity as a key part of our sound. 

What have you got coming up in the future?
Our next single ‘Sleep Real Bad’ is out on Friday (8th May). We’ve actually got a string of singles planned that should take us to the end of the year, culminating in an EP. We also had some live shows planned that have had to be moved due to the current situation, but as soon as we’re allowed, there’ll be a ZELA show for you to attend 🖤

Where can people find out more about you?
Instagram – www.instagram.com/thisiszela
Twitter – www.twitter.com/thisiszela
Facebook – www.facebook.com/thisiszela
Spotify – https://spoti.fi/2L0RnmE 
Soundcloud – www.soundcloud.com/thisiszela

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