We speak to London based singer Zola Courtney about her new song “Air in B Major” and finding lyrical inspiration.
Dropping debut single “Nothing To Lose” just last month, Zola Courtney has quickly carved out her own niche of orchestral paradise pop in just two releases. A masterpiece in its own right, “Nothing To Lose” is an ode to the simplicity of summer, accompanied by hazy visuals of beach days, sunflowers and arcade splendor.
Her latest track, “Air in B Major” is a soul-baring look at her own relationship – the winter counterpart to her strong debut. The raw end result is actually a demo cut from the day she first penned the song. Dragging out sharp lyrics with simultaneously arresting and timeless ease, she asks her intertwined lover, and herself, “Is this how are we are now?”
Accompanying the melancholy tune is a grey-skied video shot at her parents’ house in Cornwall. Courtney peppers the rainy southern landscape with powerful vocals and bittersweet truths about love. It’s equal parts stark, strong and simple.
We caught up with Zola Courtney and spoke about her musical journey below…
How do you start your writing process?
I usually get some ideas together in my room whether that be a melody, chords or a concept. I then take it to a producer to work on together. I’ve found myself thinking of lyrics at random times of the day when I’m out and about or in bed at night, so I try to keep a little notebook with me so I can jot down ideas.
Who are your major musical inspirations?
Gosh there’s so many but I guess some key ones are: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Charlotte Day Wilson and Anderson.Paak.
Do you have any rules when making music?
I just try to make music that I love and that I’d listen to, and to not write to please other people (unless I am actually writing for someone else). A lot of my old songs were really difficult to sing because they were so high, so I’ve learnt to really think about the key I’m writing in as well. The great thing about writing songs is that there aren’t really any rules!
What have you been reading lately?
I’ve been reading a lot of the Lucinda Riley books, I’m hooked!
How would you describe your sound?
I’d say it’s quite Pop/Soul sounding with an organic feel. I write about situations that have happened to me so my lyrics are quite descriptive.
What do you miss most about home when touring?
I haven’t actually been on tour yet, but I imagine it’ll be my flatmates. We have such a good time living together, I’d really miss their company. I’m a home bird, I love being in my own space so I’ll be interested to see how I find being away on tour.
What was the best part of filming the video for “Air in B Major”?
The best bit was definitely having my family and friends surprise me at my music video shoot. I had my eye on this beautiful ballroom in South London called the Rivoli Ballroom and I felt it would be the perfect setting for “Air In B Major”. The idea was was to get one shot of me singing the song however, the director and my team had arranged for all my family to come up from Cornwall and my closest friends from London to surprise me. I had no idea they were coming! The video is a genuine one-take reaction of that happening, which is kind of nice as it ties in with the song “Air In B Major” as the final track uses the demo vocal, which captured my emotion on the day I wrote it so well.
Have you got a favourite Britney Spears song?
I don’t really like Britney Spears sorry!
What are you dressing as for Halloween?
I haven’t decided yet but I’ll make sure my costume is extremely over the top. I love dressing up!
Do the seasons affect your work at all?
Yes definitely. When its summer time I just want to write upbeat, happy songs but when its autumn/winter I tend to write more reflective, slower songs. Come Christmas I just want to write Christmas songs!
What do you want people to take from “Air In B Major”?
Everything I write about is personal to me but if people can relate to what I’m singing about in some way, then that’s great. If not, I want people to just enjoy listening to the song.
What can we expect next from you?
I’ve got a few more songs coming this year that will make up an EP, and I’ll be doing a headline show at the end of the year, so I’m getting ready for that, as well as lots of writing still.