Zoe Ann, a rock/pop singer-songwriter from Dallas, Texas, has a lot going for her right now. In addition to a quickly developing musical career, she just signed a publishing deal to help get her music out there, got sponsored by Manic Panic NYC, and has been asked to partner with Complete Havoc and Cameron Crown Collection Skateboards. Check her out and see why so many people are investing themselves in her right now.
Tessa: What inspired you to start making music?
Zoe Ann: My parents bought a piano for the family when I was born, hoping I’d grow up to play it. When I was 3, I saw a girl singing on the stage at a festival in TX and told my mom that was exactly what I wanted to do. She found that remarkable since I was so shy! I started learning to play the piano as soon as I was big enough to climb up on the bench and began writing songs when I was seven years old. When I was about 10, I found my dad’s classic rock records from the 70’s and fell in love with The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. I got into musical theatre in second grade, which solved my shyness, and I immediately knew that performing was what I wanted to do. I’ve continued writing and learning both piano and guitar. I released my first album at fourteen years old and have been working on this project for two years. I’ve been working very hard on my second album and I am so excited to release it.
Tessa: Who do you consider your influences?
Zoe Ann: Well the classics of course: Zeppelin, The Beatles, Van Halen, and even Motown. I’m influenced by everything around me, really. Currently I really like Papa Roach, Katy Perry, The Used, Brand New, Flyleaf and Sick Puppies. I always find myself so puzzled when someone asks me this question, because my influences come from so many different things.
Tessa: You describe yourself as a singer-songwriter, but you definitely don’t have that traditional “woman sitting with an acoustic guitar” singer-songwriter image. Was it weird for you to choose that label in spite of that?
Zoe Ann: In truth, I am that behind the scenes. The final product of my songs is very rocked out, and I love that. But it all comes from me sitting in a room, either playing my piano or guitar writing my heart out. It’s all very real, and my songs mean a lot to me. Especially on this upcoming album.
Tessa: What songwriters do you look up to?
Zoe Ann: I absolutely love Adele. She has such heartfelt songs. Her whole album tells a story, and you can tell she works really hard.
Tessa: I’ve been asking a lot of people this lately: how does the songwriting process work for you?
Zoe Ann: My writing process varies, haha. Most of the time I’ll just be walking around and a really cool idea will pop up in my head, so I get out my voice memos from my phone and record it so I can go home and work on it. This year a lot has happened that has really hurt me and I’ve grown a lot from it, so lately I always have something to write about. I just pick up my guitar or sit at the piano and let it go.
Tessa: Can you tell me about what inspired one or more of your songs? Maybe “Lipstick Lies” “Someday,” or “Girlfriend?”
Zoe Ann: “Lipstick Lies” was inspired by the fact that there are so many girls who only care about themselves and the “boyfriend of the week.” I was actually really bullied when I was in middle school, so I’ve written a lot about mean girls. Ha. “Someday” was inspired by my life, really. I’m growing up in a small town outside of Dallas and know my goal is a career in music; I’m doing all I can to reach my “Someday!”
Tessa: You play rhythm guitar and keyboard and sing. Would you say you’re more of a guitarist, keyboardist, or singer?
Zoe Ann: Singing is my #1. I love singing so much. I sing all the time. Keyboard [is] second, and guitar third since it’s so new to me, but I get better everyday!
Tessa: Similar question: your solo YouTube videos usually have you singing and playing an instrument, while your videos with your band have you just singing. Do you prefer performing with an instrument or fronting a band?
Zoe Ann: I like both, because I love moving around and interacting with the crowd, but I spend more time when performing with my band not having an instrument. But I can easily front the band with my guitar or on keyboards.
Tessa: Is it weird for you to just sing at shows without an instrument in front of you?
Zoe Ann: Not at all, I have a really high-energy rocked out show, so it’s not like I am just standing at the mic. [Also,] being able to pick up an instrument in a couple songs is a nice break from jumping around, plus [it] shows some versatility.
Tessa: Would you rather play at a small, intimate venue or in front of a large crowd?
Zoe Ann: Large crowd! My dream is to see a ton of people at my show, singing the lyrics, all having a great time. I want to make people smile. I want people to be helped by my music. I can’t wait for that rush of singing in front of a ton of people!
Tessa: Your website describes you as a “teen rocker.” How did you get your career started so early in your life, and so successfully?
Zoe Ann: I just had the desire and [a] family that was willing to support my dream. They eventually allowed me to homeschool [so I would] have enough time to focus on music as my career path.
Tessa: You’re surrounded by guys in your backing band, and I’m guessing in other musical situations you’re surrounded by dudes too. Is it ever weird for you to be the token girl? If so, how do you deal with it?
Zoe Ann: Well, I don’t always have the same guys in my band, but the one or two that stick with me are like my best friends. [We've] become so close, it’s like they’re my brothers. But unfortunately in the rock world, you really have to look out for yourself. I’m glad I learned that early on.
Tessa: You’re different from some independent artists because you’re managed by someone else. How does that work?
Zoe Ann: Well, I am independent and although I have management, they are here to support me and help me. I think many independent artists have managers. I generally think of it as not having a label, though I do want a label!
Tessa: Do you prefer this route to managing yourself?
Zoe Ann: My management is very hands off, and and yet if I need them, they are a phone call away. I love the arrangement I have, but not all managers are like this. I got lucky!
Tessa: Where do you want your music to take you eventually?
Zoe Ann: I want my music to take me as far as possible. The sky is the limit, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to get there! This business has the power to be a good or bad influence in someone’s life. I want to help people and I hope one day, I’ll be traveling around the world.
By Tessa Smith
Queens of Noise Zine