INTERVIEW: A Conversation About ‘Zig’, Unveiling Poppy’s Musical Evolution
While she was in the heart of Paris, we had the unique opportunity to sit down with the enigmatic and ever-evolving artist, Poppy. With her upcoming album Zig coming out tomorrow and a string of hits and covers under her belt since joining Sumerian Records, Poppy is in the midst of an exciting phase of her career. We delve deep into the artistic journey that led to Zig, the fresh collaborations, and Poppy‘s unapologetic approach to her craft. In this exclusive interview, we explore the inner workings of an artist who refuses to be bound by conventions and embraces the limitless possibilities of music.
First and foremost, how are you doing?
I’m good. I am in Paris, France, just working out here for a couple of days and then I’m going back to LA.
Congratulations on your upcoming album. Since joining Sumerian Records, you’ve had a very solid stream of new songs and covers and there’s a whole bunch happening. Can you tell us what the kickoff was for Zig, the upcoming record?
The kickoff was the first song that was released, called Church Outfit, I would say, and it felt like the appropriate song to kick it off. I like performing that song live. I just did on the tour I was just on.
What was the seed that got rooted for you that started the process of creating the album?
For this album, I was listening to a lot of music, which is kind of how it begins when I’m making a new project. Just exploring things I enjoy, music I like, sometimes returning to artists that I’ve listened to in the past and discovering new music, going to record stores, or just assembling playlists that I really can listen to many times in a row.
And then around that time, I had somewhat of a skeleton of an idea of what I wanted for the record. I met Ali Payami who produced it and we were talking and walking around a lake. And I was telling him about what I was listening to and what I wanted to do and we went back to his house afterwards and he played me some songs and some tracks and some artists that he thought I wouldn’t know of, but I was actually very aware of and we became pretty close friends right away. It was a really enjoyable hang and we started making music together then, December 21st.
Can you tell us a little bit like what artists were on those lists?
Burial and also Venetian Snares, I’m a big fan of as well. And I believe the title of the playlist, I like to give the playlists that I make fun titles that I send my friends, was called The Good Things To Get Behind Playlist, and it was just a bunch of music that I was enjoying at that period of time.
From the three albums that you’ve created so far on Sumerian, there was a different producer on every album. This one is no exception and you already explained a bit that you guys became friends, but is there also a freshness to working with a different producer every time around?
It all is a feeling thing, I would say. I Disagree was experimental to me at that time. And Zakk is a good friend and I still work with Zakk, we’re working together still. He’s a great producer and mixer. And then for Flux, I worked with JMJ [Justin Meldal-Johnsen]. The whole approach to that was more live band tracking in a room.
And… That was something I’ve always wanted to do, and I know that he wanted to do it as well. So I think for me, it’smeeting with people that I really respect, and hanging out enough to know where they’re at, and what they want to do, and doing it with them. Because I remember with Flux, I was talking to Justin, and he said he never recorded an album where it was all live in a room and for the most part we did that and I said I’ve never done that either, let’s do it. So with Ali, I think it’s the first time he’s produced a record front to back. And I was like, all right, let’s do it. If they’re wonderful people and I’m enjoying my time with them, it’s fun. Music should be fun.
You mentioned that the first record on Sumerian, I Disagree, that you consider that to be a little experimental. Do you consider Flux and Zig to be experimental as well? Or have you kind of given up on that mind space that there are no barriers?
I don’t believe that there are any barriers and I don’t believe that there ever was. I think you only stand in the way of yourself. I try not to stand in my own way, but when I go into making an album, I have an idea of what I’m after, but what it ends up being in the end is so far from that, so I’m not the best at communicating thoughtfully throughout.I feel like I change with the music as it changes, and vice versa, the music changes with me, and it’s a feeling.
So when you’re creating, is there like a little voice in your head thinking about how your audience may perceive it, or is that just the furthest from your mind and the music is just for you?
The audience is the last thing on my mind when I’m making music, because I don’t think that strangers on the internet should have any authority over what I decide is good or bad.
I think that’s when you viral into a dark place when you start caring about people that you’ll never meet’s opinions on things that they’ll never get their hands on. So I don’t think if somebody is mixing an album that they’re like, wow, I really wonder what this one guy in this middle of nowhere town that I’ll never meet is going to think of this thing that I made.
It’s more about a personal thing, the personal experience, personal dialogue, inner dialogue, all of it’s an effort to better know yourself and at a deeper level. And that’s what art is, at least to me. And I feel if you’re being honest with yourself, other people want to be honest with themselves and hopefully they’ll all gravitate towards each other.
I just try to make things that I enjoy and I like to play fun shows. I like fast music. I like to dance. I don’t want to ever be bored, so that’s what I try to do. Wake up every day and not be bored.
Can share some insight on how the artwork on Zig came to be?
I collaborated with a photographer, her name is Amy and her Instagram name is @le3ay. And I am photographed with a sword tied behind my back, as you can see. I like swords. I also am fascinated with medieval instruments, and I think fear is interesting, and duality.
Are there some personal goals that you haven’t reached yet with your music that you’re hoping that this album cycle will make happen?
I don’t really speak about them. I just want to make more art and songs that I’m proud of. I hope people come to the shows and enjoy themselves, but as far as goals, I guess just more community and growth and meeting more people.
We reached out to someone on Twitter (or X as it’s called now) who has a Poppy update account if there was anything they would like to ask and they sent in three questions.
The first question on the list is: what was the last song that you wrote for Zig?
The last song was What It Becomes.
How would you describe the album in three keywords?
Three keywords. Okay, I would say it’s dark, sporadic and cinematic.
What song are you particularly excited about to play live?
I’m excited to play Flickr live. Also a song called Prove It. I think those are fun. I enjoy playing Hard live too, we do that already. It’s fun for me.
Favorite European city to visit on tour?
Copenhagen. I love Amsterdam, too. We were just talking about Copenhagen today. I also love Amsterdam. I was just there in the spring.
What artists are you listening to most right now?
I need to consult my playlist here. I was instructed to make a playlist for this thing. I’ve been listening to a lot of Boards of Canada recently. And there’s this band that I like a lot called Worm Rot. They’re from Singapore. They’re a grind core band. I think they no longer have a singer. I made this joke to my friend. I was like, should I audition? But I’m kidding. I’m not going to do that, but I really like their music a lot.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
If I’m going for a classic, I would have to say vegan vanilla, but if I’m going for something a little bit more exotic, I would say bubble gum ice cream because you have bubble gum to chew after you eat the ice cream.