Zolita on her sexy video for “Explosion” and genre-bending

Out artist Zolita is bursting onto the scene in a blaze of highly-stylized genre-bending noir-bluegrass/R&B. Her roots in the country-rock guitar style blend seamlessly with Grammy-award winning producer Ømen’s (Beyonce, Drake + Ludacris) orchestrations. Her self-directed video for first single “Explosion” has been attracting much attention both for its beauty and its girl-on-girl heavy content.

Behind the comet is a 20-year old-NYU film student whose work ethic would appear to put most of ours to shame. She is at the brink of the release of her very first EP entitled Immaculate Conception out this May with a full course load in tow and taking the time to talk to music writers like myself. We caught up about the EP, her inspirations and the first love that sparked it all.


AfterEllen.com: How do you define yourself as an artist?

Zolita: My art is about the whole package. I grew up playing bluegrass guitar. Then I did photography in high school. Now I go to NYU for film, so I’m really interested in that as well. And then I became interested in music again. So I guess combining all of those things to create that package.


AE: How do you balance school and your music?

Zolita: It’s become kind of difficult. I don’t really sleep very much. It’s hard. This semester especially because I’m in more general education classes vs. film classes, which generally just have a lot more reading and a lot more work. But I wouldn’t give it up, I really, really do enjoy school.


AE: Where do your bluegrass roots come from?

Zolita: When I was around six or seven my dad started teaching me guitar and I started doing competitions, there’s actually old little viral videos of me playing when I was younger on YouTube, but when I turned 13 and became a teenager all I wanted to play was pop music. Bluegrass wasn’t super cool at that age. I recently fell back in love with it.


AE: When did you start becoming interested in making R&B inspired productions?

Zolita: My music taste ranges all over the place but I’ve always loved R&B.  The producer that I’m working with saw me perform at the Galore Magazine fashion week party last fall and gave me his card, and that’s kind of how that all came about. It’s really cool with him, because with my songs, I write them on guitar and they’re kind of more folky, singer/songerwriter-y, and then he injects this R&B sensibility into them. I can’t seem to define the genre that we’ve created together. But it feels really cool.


AE: So how has the experience been working with Ømen?

Zolita: It’s been super incredible. There’s so many things that he has. He’s been mentoring me. He’s been mentoring me a lot. Especially with the EP release he knew exactly the sort of things to say. He’s just had so much experience, which is just so helpful. In the studio too with these little ad-libs and these little things that he has me saying that weren’t originally part of the song, you know things that I normally wouldn’t think of. It’s pretty amazing.