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To listen to ZZ Ward is to hear two distinct worlds colliding in explosive fashion. See, the native Oregonian's first love is The Blues. As a teenager, she initially found her voice performing in her father's blues band. College though would introduce ZZ to hip hop, her voice peppering the hooks and choruses of local musicians in Eugene OR. Eventually, she would find ways to embrace both sides of her musical identity; a profound feat on display all over her recent debut album, Til the Casket Drops. Recently, ZZ brought a few of that album's choice tracks by Baeble, soothing over the nitty gritty rockers in us in the process. With sideman Erick Walls by her side and a classic fedora cropped neatly on top, the 24 year old musician performed stripped down versions of "Put the Gun Down", "Charlie Ain't Home", and "365 Days". With her timeless, smoky voice, dusty blues-infused rhythms, and some serious, hip hop swagger, we think you'll find ZZ Ward to be a unique force to be reckoned with.

Transcript

I got ten things
- I got into music through my parents and my brother.
My parents were really into the blues, so they would listen to Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.
And then my brother loved hip-hop.
So, I would often steal his Nas and Jay Z CDs.
You know, I like both kinds of music for different reasons.
You know, I love the sincerity of the singers in blues and I love the stories of hip-hop.
Your clothes out on the blacktop
Scattered suits on the street
Frames and broken pictures in the mid-September heat
We set these nights on fire
So hot, we burned it down
Now all that's left of us is ashes on the ground
I told you back in June
You knew damn well what I would do
Three hundred sixty five days
You been making me wait
So keep your two-timing games
It's a lot of too late
The Summer's over, over, over
Over, over, over
Drop your keys from six stories
Shout out, it's raining green
Don't tell lies in heaven or an angel will get mean
Diamonds and white gold watches
Watch how fast they will soar
You always said you wanted to give back to the poor
I told you back in June
You knew damn well what I would do
Three hundred sixty five days
You been making me wait
So keep your two-timing games
It's a lot of too late
The Summer's over, over, over
Over, over, over
I won't be your debutante
Won't be the fool to your savant
I can't fix your cracked up dreams
While the leaves fall off these trees
I won't spend the Winter nights
Holding on to what ain't right
You might break your words real fast
But mine are made to last
Three hundred sixty five days
You been making me wait
So keep your two-timing games
It's a lot of too late
The Summer's over, over, over
Over, over
Three hundred sixty five days
You been making me wait
So keep your two-timing games
It's a lot of too late
The Summer's over, over, over
Over, over, over now
Over, over
Over, over
Over, over
Over now
- My new album is called Til The Casket Drops.
I think that the most important thing I kinda realize when making this record was you have to make music that you like to listen to.
You know, like when I get into my car I'm listening to hip-hop, like I can't be making music that's so far away from that.
But then I can't wait to get my car and listen to, you know, something else.
So I really kind of... when I was making this record, it was really fun because I just got to create music that I love.
I'm inspired by a lot of different artist for different reasons.
I mean, voices like Big Mama Thornton and Etta James and Tina Turner, I was always very inspired by their, you know, their female, you know, power voices.
Songwriters like Tom Petty and David Bowie who'd always write their own music, you know, that always really inspired me.
And then, you know, the hip-hop, Jay Z to Nas and stories about, you know, them kind of getting out of where they were and becoming something more.
Mm, mm-mm-mm
Yeah
Golden honey drippin' from this house
Black stilettos on a leather couch
Tight blue jeans stickin' tight like glue
Soakin' wet, drink it up like juice
Come on, come on, come on
Come on, come on, come on
Lay me down on sheets of cotton, whoa, whoa
You make me feel like I could fly, whoa, whoa
Headlights on the bedpost, we ain't stoppin', no, no
If you forgot, I'll tell you why
'Cause Charlie ain't home
Ooh, ooh, ooh, Charlie ain't home
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, Charlie ain't home
Yeah ah, whoa
I dig my fingertips into your back
Till the pictures break and the floorboards crack
Oh, my tongue is a silver key
Swimmin' deep in a sinner's sea
Come on, come on, come on
Come on, come on, come on
Lay me down on sheets of cotton, whoa, whoa
You make me feel like I could fly, whoa, whoa
Headlights on the bedpost, we ain't stoppin', no, no
If you forgot, I'll tell you why
'Cause Charlie ain't home
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, Charlie ain't home
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, Charlie ain't home
Oh, Charlie, Charlie
Please let that boy go, darlin'
It wasn't his fault, it was mine
Oh, Charlie, Charlie
He didn't know no better
I should have listened, you were right
Whoa
Whoa
Whoa
Lay me down on sheets of cotton, whoa, whoa
You make me feel like I could fly whoa, whoa
Headlights on the bedpost, we ain't stoppin'
If you forgot, I'll tell you why
'Cause Charlie ain't home
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, Charlie ain't home
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, Charlie ain't home
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, Charlie ain't home
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, Charlie ain't home
- You know, I really do have a good time playing.
I mean, I should.
I mean, I do it all the time.
But, I mean, when I was growing up and I was playing music with my dad, like it was, like that was fun for us so it's something we really enjoyed.
So, when I'm playing with my band, or I'm playing with Eric, I just... I really love it.
I think it's fun.
You're on the edge of your seat the whole time.
You know, you don't know that it's always gonna be great, and so it's kind of exhilarating.
And, yeah, you know, I play with some incredible musicians, so it's fun.
I think that, and I feel it a lot at our shows, we've been on tour right now.
And I think people come out and it's a really great experience for them.
I think they have a really great time and songs that I have lot of people come up to me and tell me that like my album's helping them get through tough situation or tough relationship or a tough break up.
I think, you know, I see a lot of people smiling at my shows, like it's something that makes them feel good, so it makes me feel good too.
Ooh, ooh
I got ten fingers to the sky
My back to the wall, my white flag high
Hair, lips, just like a gun
She's got silver bullets on her tongue
He's deep under her spell
I'm screamin' out, but it just won't help
I think I'm cursed
I had him first
Adeline, have mercy
You don't wanna break my heart
Take what's mine, don't hurt me
Steal my money, steal my car
Don't take my man, don't take my man
I said, don't take my man 'cause you know you can
Put the gun down, ooh
Put the gun down, ooh
She stole my man, took him from me
She's got crimson eyes, a screamin' body Face is young, she must taste sweet
She drops those panties to her knees
Walkin' on my happy home
She won't give up until I'm gone
I think I'm cursed
I had him first
Adeline, have mercy
You don't wanna break my heart
Take what's mine, don't hurt me
Steal my money, steal my car
Don't take my man, don't take my man
I said, don't take my man 'cause you know you can
Put the gun down, ooh
Put the gun down, ooh
Put the gun down, put the gun down
Got you in there on a trigger now
Put the gun down, put the gun down
Or I'ma set fire to the whole damn house
Put it down, put it down
Put it down, put it down
Whoa, oh, Adeline
Adeline, have mercy
You don't wanna break my heart
Take what's mine, don't hurt me
Steal my money, steal my car
Don't take my man, don't take my man
I said, don't take my man 'cause you know you can
Ooh
Put the gun down, ooh
Put the gun down, ooh
Ooh, put the gun down

Artist Bio

By all accounts, 2012 was a banner year for up-and-coming blues-hop/soul singer ZZ Ward. Releasing the mixtape Eleven Roses in February, the Criminal EP in May and her full-length debut Til the Casket Drops in October proved she was nothing if not prolific. Since then, she has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, had her music featured on ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars, MTV's Awkward and in promos for ABC's hit series Nashville, and completed a 50-date headlining American tour with sold-out dates in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Denver and Nashville. Ward is still in awe of the buzz that has continued to build around her and her music this past year.

"That was the first year I played in cities I'd never been to, and yet I had fans there," says Ward. "They came to the shows, knew the lyrics, and had already connected with the songs. It was fun, but surreal."

Ward, whom NPR recently declared "is going to be a star," and whose vocal prowess Rolling Stone has praised as being "chill-inducing," has been gradually working her way into the music scene since she began performing for her father's blues band at age 13. Growing up in rural Oregon, her love of hip-hop and rap eventually took her to the nearby college town of Eugene, where she sang choruses at underground hip-hop clubs for local rappers. Despite these experiences though, she struggled to reconcile her love of blues, hip-hop, soul and rock on a professional level.

"It took me a while to embrace the sort of music I wanted to make and accept that making it for myself was enough," Ward says. "I just wanted to write songs that I loved, so that's what I did on this record."

Ward's honey-smoked vocals and soulful lyrics ensnare you from the opening moments of the stomping title track and hold you in their hypnotic sway clear through the final notes of the cool, R&B-flavored "365 Days." The album features thirteen tracks ranging from heartfelt ballads ("Last Love Song") to groovy up-tempo numbers ("Move Like U Stole It"), and includes guest appearances by rising hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar and rapper Freddie Gibbs. Bluesy ditties like "Lil Darlin" sound like something you might hear in a dive bar, and the funky hip-hop track "Charlie Ain't Home," acts as an imaginative reply to Etta James's "Waiting on Charlie." The maverick sensibilities which appear throughout this show-stopping record have also earned Ward's music a nicknameDirty Shinewhich she happily embraces.

"What dirty shine means to me, personally, was the moment I stopped thinking about what people were gonna think about my music, and I just accepted who I was and what my sound was," Ward says. "It's about embracing your authentic self, doing what makes you happy and committing to it. That's the message people have been getting from that phrase, so it's inspiring."

2013 is promising to be even busier for Ward. She recently appeared on Conan, is co-headlining The Fire and Shine Tour with Delta Rae, and will be performing at SXSW, where she first introduced herself as an artist to watch out for last year. If you thought 2012 was a great year for Ward, 2013 is going to prove the best is yet to come.

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ZZ Ward

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