In disguise. Twinkling keys and a broken J Dilla flavored groove, lightened by an undeniably alluring delivery. Read our discussion with Olivia Jane and Zephyr Avalon below!
Describe your sound in three words
Z&O: Lush and dreamy with a hint of aggression.
What comes first in your music? The beat, the melodies, the lyrics or ..? Tell us a few things about your creative process.
Z&O: Usually, Zephyr will hear a bass line or chord progression in his head, or sometimes a melody. From this, a beat is created in ableton live, looping a couple different sections, leading to a more complete arrangement. Olivia will then work with the arrangement to fit her unique vocals, making any necessary changes. Then, certain programmed parts will usually be replaced with live ones (usually drums). We then add a few layers (synth, keys, guitar, etc.), and shape the sound of the track through various effects and production.
Which is your most personal and honest lyric?
Z&O: “Do the work before you can happily follow through”
Some people suggested that Lockdown could turn out to be one of the most creative times. What is your personal experience?
Z&O: It was a time where many internal battles were fought. You could certainly say more were won than lost…while others are still raging. Creativity came in waves. We learned so much and made incredible progress. Sometimes we felt more drained and uncertain of the future of a musical career path and it became much harder to focus. Like anything, it was an ebb and tide, but certainly an irreplaceable catalyst to our artistic development.
What do you love/hate about LA?
Z: I love that in LA there is always something cool going on, usually great weather and a beautiful skyline.
What I hate about LA is the constant fear of missing out which can often distract me from just buckling down and working on my music. In addition, there is an intensely overwhelming over-saturation of people trying to hype up their own product, and many interactions around self-promotion can feel forced, transactional, and downright insincere.
It’s hard to blame anyone for this; when there are so many people competing for your attention at any given time…the value of individual people starts to diminish.
This is why I work very hard to invest in the personal relationships I care about building. Show up to someone’s birthday party, dont only show up where you get to sit in and play…pay the cover and don’t ask to be on the guest list…invite people to be a part of your life outside of your field, if you really want to build that extra layer of trust. Make time. It is ultimately worth the price of admission.
O: I absolutely adore LA. It’s where I grew up and there is no place like it. For every tacky, fake person, there is an open minded, hardworking, intelligent, hilarious gem of a human being right around the corner. LA is a beautiful, wide open space with every opportunity you could ever want in music, nature, and people.
What I hate about LA is how easy it is to waste time. One can really be struggling, but the pressure to be seemingly fine and flourishing all the time pushes everyone to distract themselves from that reality. A lot of suffering and loneliness comes from these bad habits. I try to practice giving genuine answers in every interaction I have and very much appreciate when others do the same.
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
Z: Frank Zappa said it best…we were much better off with the old cigar chomping record execs with their feet up on the desk saying “I dunno, let’s give it a try…maybe this will work!” Than the new young hip execs who feel the need to pretentiously curate everything into the ground laughs ok maybe I’m exaggerating, but when it comes to creative endeavors, we shouldn’t be putting the cart in front of the horse, so to speak. I think it always comes down to finding your people…it’s a big world and they are out there.
O: If it were possible I would change the mindset that there is not enough room for everyone. It’s very rare for two people to be trying to do the exact same thing in music. And while its hard to shake the feeling of competition, lifting up your friends and peers in their musical endeavors feels so great, and it changes nothing about the outcome of your own.
You are a fan of J Dilla and that’s evident in In Disguise. What would be your favourite beat he ever made?
Z: This track was largely influenced by Reminisce (ft. Common) which J Dilla produced for an artist named Bilal, but my favorite nearby J Dilla? Feels hard to pick just one. I’d say among my favorites are ‘Stop,’ ‘Lightworks,’ ‘Stakes is High,’ (A tribe called quest) ‘So Far to Go’ and “Show me what you got” (Busta Rhymes). Sorry. You asked for one and I can’t deliver. He contains multitudes. To list only one feels like I won’t accurately represent him to a new listener! Some of his best work won’t even be found under his own name or on his own records.
Your biggest fear?
Z: That I will wait too long to release all the music I have written/nearly completed and start new projects instead laughs working on that.
O: I share that sentiment with Zephyr. With age comes perspective and experience, which is what I have always wanted to have under my belt before releasing music, rather than chasing after the wrong thing at a young age and getting lost. Hoping to finish all the projects I’m finally ready to release and continue creating!