Zeina for Atelier New Regime
Artists from Montreal are having a bit of a moment right now, there’s no denying that. Even though she recently moved to Los Angeles, Zeina is one of the most recognizable sounds to come out of Montreal. She dropped her debut seven-track EP Odd One Out in November. It was the culmination of “a year of struggles” according to Zeina; it’s not easy to put out a project “without a co-sign, without a label, and being a female.” We caught up with her in L.A thanks to the magic of voice notes (shoutout Apple) to chat about what the come up is like for young creatives.
For those who don’t know you, describe your sound. Who do you think your music resonates with?
My sound is like if a rock star went to an RnB show and was hella inspired, then heard some trap drums and was like, 'I love that’. It’s definitely different, though. I grew up liking a bunch of different shit, like rock, pop, rap, RnB. So I’m inspired by different genres. But, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no more categories, so I do whatever I like. That’s how I see my sound. If I like it, I put it out.
How would you describe your creative process? How many ideas does it take before one turns into a song?
My creative process changes every day. It depends on my mood. I go through beats and then stop when one really inspires me… when something sounds different or weird. I’ll stop, go through it, write melodies and really write to the beat itself. Sometimes I have stuff already written that I kind of fit into it. I like to work sober… which is weird I guess. I like to write sober and listen to beats sober. Then maybe I’ll smoke a little, or drink a little (laughs) and vibe out, you know, trying to get creative with the mix or add-ons. It helps me get a better overview.
Where do you find inspiration in Montreal?
Seasons really inspired me in Montreal. Seeing the change.
You’ve recently moved to L.A. Why the change? How is L.A different from Montreal?
I moved because of the opportunities. Montreal is a great artistic city. It’s great to catch a vibe, but there’s a lot of being in a basement, secluded. It was hard to be understood in Montreal, because, at least where I’m from, it’s a career-oriented city. So it was hard to be taken seriously. Here [in L.A], though, the city bleeds music. It’s built on entertainment, so you’re understood and taken seriously. The opportunities out here are great. There’s more going on here, more collaboration. I love Montreal, but I needed a change.
You seem to take pride in the way you dress and your style… how do you see the relationship between your style and your artistic persona?
Style is a big thing for me, because I dress how I wanna be that day. If I feel like a star, I’m gonna dress like a star. If I’m feeling more low-key, I’ll dress a bit more low-key. If it’s a brand, if it’s thrifted, whatever it is, if you make it your own that’s the best feeling. How I dress is a reflection of myself, so hell yeah I take pride in it.
What’s your favourite vintage t-shirt? Where did you find it? Are you enjoying L.A thrifting?
My favourite is a Tokyo Hotel t-shirt that I fucking love. It has the two brothers from the band on it… and the logo. I found it in some Laval thrift store. I haven’t had time to thrift here yet, but I’m sure there’s going to be some weird stuff that I’m going to love. So, yeah, I can’t wait to get into that.
What was the first track you recorded? How would you feel if it was played at one of your shows today?
Damn… It was probably so trash. I didn’t even know what the fuck I was doing. The first I remember, which wasn’t even the first one, was probably called Butterfly or some shit. If I forgot about it, it’s not something I would want to play, though.
What do you think the biggest challenge is for young creatives trying to make a name for themselves?
Going for it. You can be creative and have a sound and be different, but, if you don’t go for it and you’re not gutsy and you don’t leave things behind and you’re scared, or too comfortable, you won’t reach your goal. The biggest thing is not being comfortable. As soon as you’re comfortable, you stop growing. You have to be a risk-taker.
If you could pick one artist and one producer to collaborate with, who would it be? Why?
There’s two that are neck ad neck: Travis Scott or Post Malone. They’re my two favourites at the moment… I could listen to them all day. Producer-wise… I’d love to go in with WondaGurl, her drums are sick. We linked a couple times, but never for work. Plus, she’s a female so that’s dope as fuck.
Do you have any big plans for the rest of the year?
Definitely working hard. I’m just going to keep dropping music. I’m dropping some new stuff soon that’s really different and hopefully by the end of the year I’m on some kind of tour.