Zuli’s Music Gets Animated for “Blaze”
Zuli’s Music Gets Animated for “Blaze”
BY: ARIELA KOZIN | LEAD IMAGE COURTESY OF KIMBERLY YOUNG SUN
Do you remember in grade school when your teacher said your interpretation of that Hemingway poem was wrong? Well, we’re here to tell you that they were wrong. The beauty of art is that each work is open ended. One piece–whether it be writing, music, painting, or whatever– can take on so many meanings. In the instance of Zuli’s “Blaze,” at first listen you may hear a doomed love story in a raw falsetto with jubilant string-play. What you find out in our music video premiere below is that “Blaze” is actually about a really bad dog. But before you press play, read our interview with the rising star to get the full story and to learn all about his upcoming debut album.
Zuli’s debut, full-length album, On Human Freakout Mountain is available October 20th via Swoon City.
Can you describe your sound in your own words?
Oh man, that’s a question I’ve lost some sleep over that question. As time has gone on, I’ve become less and less picky about putting it into sub-categories. If you were to ask me today as a random person in passing, I’d probably just say it’s like indie-rock and roll with a ‘60s flare. A lot of people like to say psychedelic-pop which I can totally see, I mean the songs have this pop-sensibility to them and there’s a lot of weird noises and things that happen in the music.
It’s hard to decipher. Identifying genre feels a bit outdated today.
Yeah! We also live in an interesting time where every kind of music is being made constantly, which is so different from what we heard in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Maybe it’s a bad thing, but everything has just kind of blurred together at this point.
Your sound has changed so completely from 2015 and we wanted to talk a little bit about that evolution. Have there been any sort of specific turns you can identify? Were you influenced by something in particular?
I think there’s a lot of things. When I wrote the EP, I was influenced by some revivalist stuff that was coming out and bringing back older genres. In reality, this whole project was all about semi-timeless pop songs that mainly focused on the melody and trying to showcase that as best I can. The biggest difference is I wanted to up the production. When it’s big, it’s big and when it’s quiet it’s very quiet and singular in terms of the instrumentation. With the EP I could sit in a room with an acoustic guitar and play those songs alone, but I have a hard time doing that with new album because there’s a lot of these intense moments and these more intricate harmonies and arrangements.
Talking about “Blaze” specifically, what is that song about?
That song in particular was inspired by a close friend of mine who had a dog named Blaze. I knew this dog for years and years, and he was always unfortunately kind of a bad seed. He had severely bitten some of our friends and broken a couple of people’s hands. He was just a really bad dog unfortunately. He was the cutest looking dog and people would go up and pet him, but then he’d just gnaw your hand off. Eventually, they had to put the dog down and it was this whole big thing. My friend was obviously upset about it, because as much as the dog was not exactly perfect and had hurt a lot of people, it was still his dog and they still had a relationship. So that’s what inspired me from the get-go. Then I took that story and kind of applied it to my own life and really just got down to the main theme of being in a toxic relationship and how that can affect you negatively or positively.
Hearing the song we would never guess that it’s between a dog and a man. Automatically you assume a sort of romantic relationship. Was that purposeful or did that happen organically?
Honestly, I think that’s something I do a lot and sometimes intentionally and other times sometimes unintentionally. A lot of the material on the album is kind of romanticized, but a lot of scenarios, and the way I look at them when I write, I kind of look at them almost as if I’m this other person or this other being.
How did the animation come about for this video?
I did it with my buddies at Genmotion who did the “kubadiver” video. I’ve done pretty much all my previous videos with them. We were storyboarding this “Blaze” video as a live action video. We had these ideas, but the more we started talking about it, and planning it, I decided it would be too challenging to find a dog that works well enough to act the part. And after talking to a bunch of different animators, I found Pedro Chaves who did the animation for the video. I liked his black and white crude style. I thought it kind of fit with my vibe and then I wanted to do the one part popping in color because I feel like that part is very vibrant. So we took the script I worked on with the Genmotion guys, I sent it to Pedro, he was really into it. Him and I really hit it off with all these easter egg kind of ideas I’m sentimental about or little hints. But anyway, we just hit it off and a couple months later we had the finished video and now here we are!
In terms of overall theme for the album, do you think that “Blaze” is a reflection of what we’re going to hear in full?
I think “Blaze” is a good middle-ground to the album. As I said before, I think one of the things that I’m proud of with the album is that it’s got a little bit of something for everyone on it. There’s a lot of intense rock moments, but then there’s a lot of somber, reflective, toned-down tracks. I wouldn’t say “Blaze” is the best representative of the whole spectrum of the album, but it hits a lot of points. I think it’s a nice little pop tune that I was super pumped about when I’d written it, and at the time it seemed to be able to mold with the rest of the stuff.