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

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Durham-based electro-noir siblings ZELA have been making waves with their single releases over the past few months, and are shaping up to be one of the most exciting prospects in the region despite being yet to perform these stylish and intoxicating compositions live.

However, with a debut live show scheduled for Saturday 31st July at The Georgian Theatre in Stockton, I asked singer Liv what we can expect from the live shows. “There is definitely an element of us wanting the songs to translate as good as, if not better, live than recorded, but I think that anticipation just adds to the excitement. We don’t want our shows to be like you’re hitting play on the record at home, we need you to feel and experience the songs in a whole new light.”

The North East dance music scene seems to have flourished during lockdown. Liv explains how ZELA came to be and, as expected, it’s a lot more than just a lockdown whimsy. “Max [drummer and co-conspirator] and I have always been in bands together growing up, we’ve always been into similar things at the same time and music is in our blood. We began writing and shaping ZELA in 2018 working out of Homefire Studios in Harrogate. We spent a couple of years writing and recording, developing visually as well as sonically and released our debut single in March last year (great timing, right?). Since then, it’s been nothing but singles and chaos and lockdowns.”

I like the range we’ve created for ourselves whilst still managing to maintain an overall distinguishable sound

Latest single Sober Lovin U is a further extension of the dark electro of previous tracks, but there is no overall masterplan despite the hard work ethos the band portray. “I suppose we’ve created a blueprint for the ZELA sound but we don’t limit ourselves to anything and part of the process for us is still taking time to experiment. It’s important to us that we consistently sound like us but that happens very organically. The devilish detail for us is the small but paramount subtleties in our sound, like when I shift my voice to match a character I’ve created to suit the song, or when we spend time getting the final little pieces of the production on the tracks right. Applying that stuff is what really makes us, us. I like the range we’ve created for ourselves whilst still managing to maintain an overall distinguishable sound.” And it’s this reference to the characters within the songs that suddenly makes the slightly murky underworld of ZELA’s songs make a lot more sense.

But, with no time to waste Liv is keen for ZELA to crack on. “We’re packing as much as we can into the rest of the year, starting with new music”. Sober Lovin U is out on 9th July, and Liv gives an insight into the track. “Picture postered bedroom walls, secret cigarettes and late-night phone calls underneath the covers, and you’re in my state of mind when I wrote the lyrics. We’ve also got our debut headline show which we cannot fucking wait for and we just know it’s gonna be an absolute fire night. The rest of the year will include our debut festival performances and more music…” Watch this space, indeed.

Sober Lovin U is out now. They play The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Saturday 31st July, Heelapalooza Festival in Middlesbrough on Saturday 7th August and Last Train Home Festival in Darlington on Saturday 4th September

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