Rising singer/songwriter ZZ Ward talks to us about performing on Conan, making the move to L.A., and getting a puppy

From late night talk shows to mentions in Rolling Stone magazine, ZZ Ward is taking the music world by storm. And really, it’s no surprise—the girl is talented, has collaborated with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, and has a song that was remixed by Passion Pit. Her debut album Til the Casket Drops is a unique blend of blues, hip-hop, soul, and pop, and includes the hits “Put the Gun Down” and “Criminal.” Currently on tour with Delta Rae, we spoke to ZZ before her show at The Mod Club (which is tonight!).

SDTC: You performed on Conan recently. What was that experience like?
ZZ Ward: It was the second late night TV appearance that I’ve done, and I had a ton of fun on it. I wasn’t really expecting to go talk to Conan and Andy on the couch at the end and that was pretty exciting!

SDTC: What’s your earliest music-related memory?
ZZ Ward:
When I was a little kid, my dad would always try to get me and my cousins to sing for him. We actually have it on video. I think we were around five years old. My cousin would be too shy to sing but I was a total camera hog.

SDTC: Your album Til the Casket Drops has a unique blend of soul, blues, and hip-hop. Who do you draw inspiration from?
ZZ Ward:
I draw inspiration from a lot of old blues like Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, Howlin’ Wolf, and Tina Turner, and then hip-hop like Outkast, Nas, and Jay-Z.

SDTC: You’ve collaborated with Kendrick Lamar and Fitz of Fitz and the Tantrums—is there anyone else you’d love to work with?
ZZ Ward:
Yes. I would love to work with Salaam Remi, Azealia Banks, or Gary Clark Jr.!

SDTC: What was it like making the move from Roseburg, Oregon to L.A. to pursue a career in music?
ZZ Ward:
It was terrifying. I really didn’t know where to start—I just knew that I wanted to do music professionally. I felt really lost when I first came down; I didn’t know anyone or have any friends. I just started booking my own shows and going from there.

SDTC: What 5 musicians/bands are you really into right now?
ZZ Ward:
Lately I’ve been listening to Azealia Banks, Lianne La Havas, Gary Clark Jr., Frank Ocean, and Alt-J.

SDTC: What’s it been like touring with Delta Rae?
ZZ Ward:
It’s been really fun. They are all really great people and that’s always really important when you’re touring with someone. We have similar styles of music, so it’s kind of a party on the road every night. Every time fans come up to us afterwards they’re usually really into both bands.

SDTC: Besides touring, what else does 2013 hold for you?
ZZ Ward:
I’m getting a Border Terrier on March 17! I’m super excited and obsessed with my new puppy. I just keep looking at photos of Border Terriers. Her name is Muddy Waters and she’s going to be a road dog and be out with me on tour.

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