A feverish indie rock song drowning in intimate emotion and frenetic energy, zzzahara’s “they don’t know” is a vulnerable and raw outpouring from the heart. The solo moniker for Eyedress/Simps guitarist Zahara Jaime comes to life on their first release with London-based Lex Records.
Stream: “they don’t know” – zzzahara
I hope listeners feel like they never have to be kept a secret, and that they can love anyone they want without feeling ashamed of their sexuality or gender.
Sometimes our feelings wash over us slowly, in waves; other times, everything rushes out all at once. A feverish indie rock song drowning in intimate emotion and frenetic energy, zzzahara’s “they don’t know” is a vulnerable and raw outpouring from the heart. Passion and frustration roar while insecurities and gut feelings flourish in a moving reckoning of sexuality and identity. It’s an evocative and memorable moment of truth for a solo artist quickly coming into their own with a style, sound, and substance that is all their own.
Girl you look really good with that dress on
I could really use those lips to press on
I just want to be enough to get you on love
Feenin for a fix I could really use your loving
Telling me this could never be nothing
Girl why you thinking this could be so wrong
They don’t know they don’t know
They don’t know about us
Cause if they did cause if they did
They would judge us
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering zzzahara’s new single “they don’t know,” their first release via British indie label Lex Records (out November 16, 2021). The solo moniker for Eyedress/Simps guitarist Zahara Jaime, zzzahara (stylized in all lower caps letters) first debuted in mid-2019, and released a steady stream of songs and an EP, Simp.Wav, throughout 2020. “they don’t know” follows this past February’s standalone single “I do ok alone,” a bittersweet anti-love song fittingly released on Valentine’s Day.
Pulsing synths and unrelenting drums give zzzahara’s latest an undeniable sense of urgency and anxiety. The artist rises to the fore as the musical maelstrom whips around them, their voice an emotional life raft in a sonic sea of turmoil:
Girl why you always gotta keep me a secret?
Telling me you love me feels like you don’t mean it
You know well it’s enough to lead me on so
Searching high and low for all your loving
Posting up with him when I know your fronting
It’s everything you wanted to see on
For zzzahara, this track explores a life hanging in the balance between memory and possibility.
“The song came into being, one night, when I left a party,” Jaime tells Atwood Magazine. “Sometimes when I’m out doing something all I can think about is writing music or playing my guitar. I came home and decided to make a fast beat – I was feeling a bit chaotic having left the party and wanted to make something with a heavy energy. I guess I had a lot of repressed feelings that week, because once I started playing that lead riff and writing the lyrics… It just felt so powerful.”
They don’t know, they don’t know
They don’t know about us
‘Cause if they did, cause if they did,
’cause if they did,
they would judge us
“The song means something along the lines of not feeling seen, feeling a bit rejected from the world as in queer relationships mattering less in the grand scheme of relationships. I think it’s an insecurity that I have with being queer and something I have experienced a lot of in my life. I wanted to channel that frustration into “they don’t know,” and make a song that can resonate with people. “they don’t know” can also just be a secret relationship.”
I was mostly feeling like my relationships with women weren’t taken seriously in a mostly heteronormative society. As if my love mattered less. I guess feeling “other-ed,” by partners and friends.
Atwood Magazine caught up with Zahara Jaime to dive into the depths of “they don’t know” as well as zzzahara’s burgeoning artistic identity. Get lost in the visceral whirlpool of “they don’t know,” and get to this up-and-coming indie rock force in our interview below!
All I know, all I know
All I know is just us
And all you know
And all you know
And all you know is all them
Girl why you always gotta…
keep me a secret…
Stream: “they don’t know” – zzzahara
A CONVERSATION WITH ZZZAHARA
Atwood Magazine: zzzahara, this is your first release with Lex Records. How did you connect with the label and what's that experience been like so far?
ZZZAHARA: I connected with the label through Eyedress (Idris Vicuña), he moved to Los Angeles, and added me to his live show as a guitarist in 2019. He was already signed to Lex Records at the time. We started recording an album together and released a single under the project name, The Simps. Our single, “Miss Fortunate,” was premiered on Obey. Daniel Horitz who is a project manager at Lex Records flew into LA to watch us play Eyedress shows and watch the music video recording of Eyedress’s song “Jealous.” Tom Brown, the CEO of Lex, asked Idris to send over The Simps album. After listening to the album, Tom Brown offered a deal, and I was introduced to the Lex team. It has been a great experience working with Lex Records and releasing a single off of The Simps record. I cherish my creative freedom and Lex allows me to make the music I want with their full support. Signing a solo deal with Lex records this year and experiencing how much time and effort they have put in me so far as an artist is giving me big hopes for the future. I am excited to release my first zzzahara single with Lex!
For those just discovering you for the first time, how do you describe your music?
ZZZAHARA: I think of my music as being categorized under some sort of rock umbrella, maybe “indie rock.” It is also somewhat electronic and has pop elements. I love using the pop writing structure to make my music more catchy. I usually tell my parents or grandparents that I make “rock” music.
What was your musical upbringing like – who did you listen to in your formative years, and who do you listen to now?
ZZZAHARA: Growing up, my parents always had the music blasting in the kitchen, and I always had MTV, VH1, or Fuse on. I grew up listening to a myriad of genres. Anything from Selena, Elton John, The Carpenters, ABBA, 50 cent, to Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, No Doubt, The Cure, My Chemical Romance and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Currently, I’ve been listening to Yves Tumor, Bladee, Baby Keem, and Pink Pantheress. I love listening to artists who are coming up and making a musical change in the world.
How did you get into making music? Do you remember your first time writing a song – what was that like for you?
ZZZAHARA: Making music started for me when I got an acoustic guitar, I think I was 10 – 12, and would mess around with some chords. Eventually I got a micro korg and would hook it up to an amp then record on Sound Recorder to a Windows computer. I would make these parody songs about the girls I would date. Then when I was 14 I started to join bands and experience writing with groups of people. The first song I was ever proud of writing happened when I was 16 – years – old. I had put together these chords that were so melodic, it reminded me of Jimmy Page’s style of playing. The chords were beautiful. The song was named, “Julia.” It’s stayed with me ever since and I always dreamed of putting it on a label one day. I ended up recording the song in full recently and it’s going to be one of the singles I release next year.
Along those lines, why did you start zzzahara, and what have the first two years of this project been like for you?
ZZZAHARA: I started zzzahara, solely, because I was tired of playing in bands. I always felt like my goals were different from other band members. I was tired of playing post-punk and wanted to branch out and explore more into different genres. Idris showed me how to use Ableton and I nerded out on production for the last two years. Collin Davis, a good friend of mine, who I have project with, U.S. Velvet, has introduced me to the world of audio engineering and production. He’s brought me into Stones Throw studios and taught me so much about plugins, hardware, and different instruments as well. He’s helped produce zzzahara songs and helps mix them as well. I’ve been content being able to write and have creative freedom over my own music. It’s been nice rewriting old songs and making new ones.
How do you distinguish zzzahara from your other musical endeavors and past projects?
ZZZAHARA: zzzahara is different from anything else I have ever made or been a part of. I love mixing various genres together but still keeping it under the “rock,” umbrella. I really sit with my songs for a while, instead of rushing them, like I used to. I think with zzzahara I am a lot more critical of myself and what I choose to release on a record label. I really tried to make it relatable and easy to digest for listeners but still try to keep it exciting.
Your latest release aside, do you have any favorite or standout songs that you've released so far that continue to resonate with you?
ZZZAHARA: “I do ok alone,” resonated with me for a moment this year, but I quickly got over it. I think since I put so much time and effort into these new releases I quickly forgot about the releases I put out in a d-i-y fashion. I still love listening to “Sugar Gay.” The arrangements on that single are fun and I love the melody. As for lyrics, I cannot resonate with that song anymore.
There's something naturally frenetic - a little chaotic - about “they don't know.” How did this song come to being, and what does it mean for you?
ZZZAHARA: Yes! That’s what I love so much about “they don’t know.” The song came into being, one night, when I left a party. Sometimes when I’m out doing something all I can think about is writing music or playing my guitar. I came home and decided to make a fast beat – I was feeling a bit chaotic having left the party and wanted to make something with a heavy energy. I guess I had a lot of repressed feelings that week, because once I started playing that lead riff and writing the lyrics… It just felt so powerful. The song means something along the lines of not feeling seen, feeling a bit rejected from the world as in queer relationships mattering less in the grand scheme of relationships. I think it’s an insecurity that I have with being queer and something I have experienced a lot of in my life. I wanted to channel that frustration into “they don’t know,” and make a song that can resonate with people. “they don’t know” can also just be a secret relationship.
Some parts of this song, when I heard it, delve deep into themes of otherness and distance – emotional and otherwise. If you mind, could you share a bit about what you were going through when writing this song - and what you were exploring?
ZZZAHARA: I was mostly feeling like my relationships with women weren’t taken seriously in a mostly heteronormative society. As if my love mattered less. I guess feeling “other-ed,” by partners and friends.
You've talked about this track exploring a life hanging in the balance between memory and possibility; what is it about the convergence of these two ideas that inspired you? What's important about them, to you?
ZZZAHARA: The convergence of these ideas inspired me because I had this problem with disassociating a lot in my life and living in memories, yet also continuously repeating the same patterns I have before in past relationships / situationships. It’s important to me, because I have accepted that I was just being myself in trying to navigate my identity and so were the people I dated. I think ultimately they are important because navigating sexuality and identity is hard for everyone. Living in Los Angeles my entire life and having to frequent all the same places that hold heavy memories with people I have dated has created this liminal space for me. It feels eerie and holds a lot of emotion, yet I’m just trying to move forward in my life.
“I just want to be enough to get you on, love,” you sing toward the song's start. Can you talk about the underlying push and pull here?
ZZZAHARA: Yes, that line deals with the insecurity of feeling like the other, when you start to date someone who has not yet been a queer relationship. Feeling unsure if you are even enough to be with someone who is only used to being in heternormative relationships. I guess I sort of felt like a floating question mark.
“They don't know about us, 'cause if they did, they would judge us,” you later sing in the chorus. I love the passion and emotion you infuse into this part - can you share more about the inspiration for these lines?
ZZZAHARA: I say, “They would judge us.” The inspiration for these lines really just came from watching a lot of queer films and from personal experience. I guess part of “coming out,” for everyone is difficult and it really feels as though everyone in the universe has got something negative to say.
What do you hope listeners take away from this song?
ZZZAHARA: I hope listeners feel like they never have to be kept a secret, and that they can love anyone they want without feeling ashamed of their sexuality or gender. Also that no one should ever have to be “forced,” to come out and share their sexuality or gender with the world.
Stream: “they don’t know” – zzzahara
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