Zana chats with TMI about her new single “sweet tooth”

Hey Zana! So excited to be chatting with you! You just released your new single!! What do you hope your supporters will think of Sweet Tooth? 

So excited to be chatting with you as well!! (: I hope that “Sweet Tooth” (produced by Big Len) can bring some lighthearted fun for everyone listening and watching. It’s a chill song with a vivid storyline and the animation in the music video (by J. Cutt Productions) combined with the live action really brings the storyline to life visually. I just hope it can take some of life’s pressures off, even for just a few moments.

Can you tell us the backstory of this song? Is it from a real experience?

In a way it is, in another way it isn’t. I’ve always imagined what it would be like to meet someone “how it used to be”, and without exchanging numbers/socials. I wrote the hook based off of some Starbucks Frappuccino bottles that I repurposed. The flavors were caramel, mocha and vanilla. My boyfriend is the one who got me those Frappuccino bottles and so the line “You taste as good as caramel, skin lookin’ like it’s mocha, I really shoulda told ya” popped into my head. He always orders caramel, I
order mocha, and we split them. In a way I was also kind of messing with him because he always says his skin color is “mocha caramel”, but I actually think it’s just mocha. We jokingly argue about that a lot. We also argue about the pronunciation of “caramel”. He says “care-uh-mell” I say “car-mell” because I grew up in the Bay Area (specifically, Oakland, CA) and everyone says it “car-mell” over there. In the end, I wanted to incorporate the last flavor “vanilla”, so I then followed that line with “My
favorite flavor’s chocolate, but I still like vanilla, I really shouldn’t miss ya” – the lines “I really shoulda told ya” and “I really shouldn’t miss ya” pulled together the whole storyline of two people meeting at a club, hitting it off, but not exchanging info.

You also have more music coming out in 2021!! Can you spill any details on what your fans can look forward to from you this year?!?

Yes! It’s so much music. I’m so excited. I have 3 more EPs coming out this year. The next EP is titled For Winter: the storms were calming. It’s an ode to winter. The first song from that EP comes out March 26 th , I can’t wait to start this next chapter of the 4-part EP project (:

Do you have a creative say in your music? Did you help write all your new songs? 

Yes. I definitely have a creative say. Maybe too much so sometimes, hahaha. I am very involved in every aspect of creating my music. I write all of my songs, sometimes I co-write, and I love being a part of the production process, especially because I love incorporating so many different elements into my music. I also really enjoy collaborating with the producers and musicians that I work with. Creating something new and being able to bring different perspectives to it is always fun and exciting for me, so I really just love that whole process.

What does it feel like to release your own original music?

It feels a little insane sometimes because it can be a little scary sharing personal stories with the entire world, but I also love it because whenever you put yourself in an uncomfortable position you grow so much and you also help those around you feel more comfortable to be themselves and stand out. That is so important to me. I really want to make my listeners comfortable with their thoughts, hopes, fears, confusions and dreams. These are all feelings that everyone experiences, and I think it’s important
to know that none of us are alone in that. I think we forget that sometimes and I like for my music to remind everyone, including myself, that everyone goes through these sorts of feelings.

Will there be a music video for your new single? If so, can you tell us about the concept of the video 🙂 

There will! I have several music videos coming out very soon with new music. Specifically, I have a music video coming out for one of the songs in my This Is Autumn EP called “Know You”. It was so much fun to shoot and edit this video. It was a lot of work, but it was so worth it. I’m really excited to share that one (:

What’s been the pros and cons of pursuing your music career?

The pros outweigh the cons by a million or more honestly. I don’t really look at anything as a con. I’ve learned that most things I think are cons in the moment turn out to be blessings because I end up learning something really important that I didn’t know before, or it ends up working out even better down the line than I thought. As for pros, I mean the biggest thing for me is the response from the people who listen to my music and support my music career. I get so emotional by some of the things people have shared with me. When people say that my music changed their life for the better in some way, I mean… Who wouldn’t thank their lucky stars for a response like that? I’m so grateful for my supporters.

Is there anyone you want to thank that’s helped you get to where you are today? 

My parents and sister 1000%. They have been here since the beginning and they have always supported me in everything I do. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Even in those moments where I am acting ridiculous because of one thing or another they always manage to stand by me and make me realize that whatever it is that’s going wrong is going to be okay and whenever I have that moment where I think I can’t do something, or that I won’t be great, they always remind me that I can and that I will be.

What do you think makes your fan community/fandom different from others?

They are so supportive of me creating different styles of music and venturing out. I really appreciate that. I think a lot of artists get pigeonholed because their supporters only want to hear one style/sound from them, but for me I am blessed to have a community that enjoys when I experiment with different styles. I really appreciate that because it allows me to be myself and grow as an artist, musician, and writer.

How would you describe your fans?   What are three words you would use to describe them?

Loving, hilarious, and beautiful. They really make me laugh. I love reading and responding to all of their comments and DMs. They are so kind to me and supportive. It feels like they trust me too, and I cherish that.

What do you want your message to be towards your fans? What do you want your fans to take away from your music and shows?

I want them to know that they are not alone in their hopes, fears and confusion. We’re in it together and I just hope that my music can bring you comfort and make you want to show off your killer dance moves.

Do you have any pre-show rituals that help you get pumped up to perform in front of crowds?

I have two necklaces that I have to wear for every performance. They have little pendants on them that my parents and my grandparents gave me. My pre-show ritual, besides warming up my vocals, is usually to go into the restroom right before I get on stage, grab all the pendants on my two necklaces, say a little chant that I learned when I was very young from my dad, and then I look at myself in the mirror and say “You can do it. You’ve got this. Just show them who you are.” I used to have terrible stage fright. So, I do this ritual in order to get out of my head a little bit and loosen up.

Are you planning any shows to promote your new music?

I am planning a few special live sessions in different settings for my new music. I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but there are definitely some fun things planned for this year.

What is it like performing in front of your fans? Are you excited to start performing your own music live again!?! 

I love performing in front of my supporters. It makes me so happy. I am always slightly terrified before each show, but as soon as I get on stage, I feel that rush of the audience and the energy and I just love it. It’s like roller coaster rides for me. When I’m waiting in line, I’m like freaking out and then once I’m on it I’m like, “This is insane! It’s amazing!” and then after I’m like,
“I have to do that again.” I am so excited to start performing live again. I really miss it. I miss feeling the energy that comes from performing with some of the super talented musicians that I work with. It’s always such a fun time.

What do you want your supporters to know that you think is important?

Everything that challenges you seems scary until you do it. Then you realize that all that fear you felt towards it and all the “but what if something bad happens?” was just silly. My biggest fear was that I would mess up on stage. Now I’ve messed up several times and each time just makes me better and honestly makes for a good laugh. Going after what you want is never as scary as you think it is. Plus, we are all scared. You’re not alone in that. Do it anyway – I mean as long as it’s not putting you in harm’s way of
course lol.

What’s something your fans don’t know about you?

That I am super shy when you first meet me. Once I get comfortable, I am totally my normal wacky and quirky self, but if I’m not in “stage mode” I am so shy.

What’s one word you would use to describe what your fans have allowed you to accomplish?

Freedom. They give me a lot of freedom to be myself musically and just in general. I’ve noticed that they support me no matter what genre I decide to start exploring and they always support my goofy personality and overall varying characteristics.

What do your fans call themselves? And how did that fanbase name catch on?

I don’t actually know if they call themselves anything, but I call them “Ma’Beauties” or “beauties”. 1. Because they are all beautiful inside and out and 2. Because my name “Zana” means “beauty” in Arabic, so I found it fitting.

Have you ever been starstruck by meeting someone famous?

I actually have not. I bumped into Hilary Duff once at whole foods and it was so funny. I like literally bumped into her and she is much shorter than me, so she looked up at me with these eyes like “Please don’t be one of those people that screams.” Hahaha. It was honestly amazing because I love her and, funny enough, I was listening to her album Metamorphosis earlier that day. I think the only person who would have me starstruck is Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls. I absolutely love her. One time I went
to a Mexican Restaurant in Tribeca with my mom and sister, and Lauren was sitting in this booth next to us with some of her costars from Parenthood. From the angle I was sitting at, I saw her costars, but I didn’t see her. My mom couldn’t remember the names of the shows or movies she is in and she didn’t know her name, so she kept saying “Look Zana, it’s the woman you love from that mother-daughter show.” I had no idea who she was talking about in the moment, and I didn’t want to be rude and
make them feel uncomfortable during their lunch by deliberately looking over and staring, so I never looked. I went to the restroom and when I came back, they were gone. My mom finally found a picture of her and said “Her! She was sitting right there.” I nearly passed out lol. I was so mad at myself for not looking over.

Is there anyone in the music business you are dying to meet?

Hmm. This is a tough one. I wouldn’t say that I was dying to meet anyone in the music industry, because at the end of the day they are people just like you and me – They’re just in the public eye, but I think probably Adele or Ed Sheeran. I love their music and they both seem like such fun people. I love their personalities.

What should fans know if they ever see you in public?

I will probably be wearing oversized clothes with doc martens, eating a sandwich or drinking coffee or both and running to wherever I’m supposed to be because I’m always running late even though I manage to make it to places on time, hahaha. Outside of that, I’d want them to come up to me and say hi because I’d just love that, even if I look like a frantic sandwich
lady.

Why do you think social media is so important for artists to connect with teens? 

It’s so important because there’s no other way to be personal like that on that scale and everyone wants to feel like they are a part of something. Social media makes that happen. You grow together, you communicate with each other, and, overall, you connect with each other. What would you say is your biggest dream/goal right now? To make music for the rest of my life. I don’t have a plan B. I just know that music is what I do and it’s what I’m always going to do.

Any last things you want to tell your fans?

I’m working my butt off to get us there and I really appreciate all of your support and love through this process. It really does make a huge difference for me. Thank you.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!

Thank you!!! This was so fun and I loved answering these questions (:

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