INTERVIEW: Lolo Zouaï on new music, feeling confident and embracing all her different sides

Next year, the French-Algerian rising star Lolo Zouaï will be supporting Dua Lipa on tour with fresh new music. We spoke to the genre-bending artist to learn more about the previous and next chapters of her musical career.

Lolo Zouaï PRESS
Lolo Zouaï // PRESS

Lolo Zouaï loves a good title. In fact, it’s one of the most important components when she creates the music that has racked up millions of streams worldwide and landed her a support gig for Dua Lipa on her forthcoming European arena tour.

“I don’t like it when a song title is just like… a sentence. It needs to be interesting,” she says when I catch her on Zoom. She’s in a café in Brooklyn, New York where she lives half of the time when she’s not in Los Angeles.

The latest title we got from her was “Galipette” and it’s French for “somersault” or “rolling around in the sheets” as the press release stated. It was the first hard-hitting taste of the new music she’ll be releasing following her critically acclaimed 2019 debut album High Highs to Low Lows and a manifestation of her creativity and wide-ranging approach to musical expression.

“In the next wave of music, I’m definitely challenging myself to make something different. I don’t wanna make High Highs to Low Lows twice. I could, but that would be boring. I think my fans want me to grow,” she says respectfully.

It can be hard describing what you hear when you put on a Lolo Zouaï track. There’s definitely R&B in the mix. Some Pop and Hip Hop as well. Lately she’s also been into elements from the Hyperpop movement. If she were to describe the sound herself, she’d say it’s music that feels good if you’re driving or if you’re drunk. “NOT drunk driving!” she says and starts laughing. “But if you’re like, on the backseat of a car or a motorcycle,” she continues. “That feeling of passion and tension, you know?”

As a person without a driver’s license, I totally know the back seat vibe, and it really encapsulates the feeling of listening to Lolo Zouaï. Though other descriptions work as well.

“There was also this girl on Twitter, it was my favorite tweet! She was like: Lolo Zouaï’s music makes me wanna sleep with a married man… Not that I approve!” 

A multifaceted slap in the face

Turning back to Lolo Zouaï’s latest single “Galipette” for a second, you might not have heard it on the radio (unless you’re in Finland where it’s apparently charting and holding the number 11 spot on iTunes). Zouaï knew that it wasn’t necessarily a radio hit when she released it and she wasn’t trying to make one either.

The track is a vibrant mixture of French sensuality, hard-hitting Hip Hop and R&B-like vocal harmonies, and it’s her most crazy song so far, she declares. “I wanted to show the extreme first. Like: Hey! Here’s a slap in the face, now I’ll bring you back!” 

The accompanying music video is as uncompromising as the track and shows all the different sides of Lolo Zouaï that she’s still continuously discovering and embracing. It uncovers everything from the inner child and the ugliness to the sexy grown woman and the boss business type. 

“I have a really hard time as an artist to label myself as one thing. I think the theme of those different versions of me is something I’ve been thinking of as pretty defining in the music that I make. I’m sure we all have so many different sides to us, and I think it would be boring if I just choose one of those. It’s powerful to be a boss and show my ability and sexiness. And it’s all in my control!”

Directed by Amber Grace Johnson (Jorja Smith, J Cole, Kali Uchis), the visual features the UCLA Women’s Gymnastics team including Nia Dennis, Margzetta Frazier, JaNay Honest, Angi Cipra, Chae Campbell, Sekai Wright, Paulina Tratz , and Norah Flatley

Lows to highs: Getting booed off stage and feeling more confident than ever

Lolo Zouaï began making music in her teens and made her way to the stage in 2017. Born in Paris to a French mother and Algerian father, she moved to San Francisco where she grew up in the Bay Area. Since the start of her musical career, she’s opened for Alina Baraz, collaborated with Blood Orange, and co-written the track “Still Down” from H.E.R.’s Grammy-winning eponymous debut record to name a few of the accomplishments that have led the singer, songwriter and producer to where she is now. 

Zouaï always believed in herself, and when she started getting a steady income from branded deals (she’s appeared in global fashion campaigns for brands like Adidas, Nike and Tommy Hilfinger) she felt confident pursuing her dream. That dream wasn’t to become a star overnight. Zouaï wanted to be a long-term artist and she worked independently for a long time with her first single residing in the Top 10 Viral Chart for two months.

From a live perspective Zouaï became quite the success as well. Sure, performing was her biggest fear in the beginning, but when she realized that she was actually good at it, she kept going and she sold out six different cities on her first tour despite only having five songs out. She played cities like Paris and London, Los Angeles, and New York.

Dua Lipa | Lolo Zouaï

Toronto was a different story though. She didn’t have in-ears, couldn’t hear herself and felt sure that she was over-singing.

“That night, I saw a video of it, and I thought it was horrible. I sat the whole night just miserable thinking that I was awful, that I’d never be successful and that nobody would ever wanna see me.” 

Sounds pretty bad, huh? But maybe one night of misery in Toronto was exactly what she needed. “I woke up the next morning and said: This is never gonna happen again. I never wanna feel like this ever again. So, I’m never gonna be unprepared. I’m never gonna f*ck up again.”

Although her next show in Brooklyn was amazing, things did f*ck up again. But this time, she wasn’t unprepared, and she wasn’t questioning her own ability.

“There was that one time I got booed off stage in Atlanta. It wasn’t my show, but a kind of poorly run festival and The Vision was going on after me. They’re amazing, but the crowd thought I wasn’t a human or something or that I didn’t have feelings. They were just staring at me and started yelling: THE VISION! And I was like: GIVE ME A F*CKING CHANCE!

I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself

Since her first tour (and the unforgettable night in Atlanta), Lolo Zouaï has continued growing in confidence and as she’s approaching the world tour with Dua Lipa, she’s in the studio with her producer Stelios Phili (who’s also worked with names like Young Thug, SZA and M.I.A) almost every day, feeling more creative and productive than ever. She used to question everything a bit more, but now she’s just excited to make whatever comes, whether it’s a song for another artist, something she can send to a TV show or another “bittersweet banger” as she’s previously described her songs. 

“Everything is worth making,” she reflects. And the confidence comes from a mix of places.

“It feels like the world is kind of ending, and it feels like I shouldn’t be worrying about small stuff. Then also getting my mental health in order. In 2020 I made no music; I was so doubtful and so bumped out that I wasn’t going on tour anymore. Now, I feel like I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself. I’m just gonna be happy and try my best and enjoy my life while I have it.”

Dua Lipa | Lolo Zouaï

There still is gonna be some heartfelt stuff. This was just the bad bitch beginnings!

The rather existential self-examination seems to have worked and so does giving more room to her thoughts. It might sound basic, but if you think about it, it’s not.

“I realized that I’m not actually thinking that much, cause I avoid it. We all do. I mean, we watch TV, we watch whatever to avoid our thoughts. Now I’ll sit and spend 10 minutes just thinking and then I’ll come up with something, she laughs. And I’m like: Wow, it works!”

She feels super supported and confident that the music she’s making now resonates with what her fans expect of her: realness. And though “Galipette” showed a different musical side of her, she promises that she’s never gonna lose who she is in the process. 

“There still is gonna be some heartfelt stuff,” she assures. “This was just the bad bitch beginnings! That’s a good place to start, but we still got some sadness in us.” 

And as to what the future holds, there’s a lot to be excited about. The Dua Lipa tour, new music, new videos, new merchandize and the remix of “Galipette” that she’s just released featuring the South Korean artist, Bibi.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that anyone has ever made a song in French, Korean and English. I think that’s pretty awesome. It felt so cool!” She says as we round up our talk.

You can listen to the “Galipette” remix featuring Bibi below and check out if Dua Lipa and Lolo Zouaï will come to a city near you here.

Since you’re here, we assume you like music. So do we! And that is why we’ve created a playlist that is updated every Friday with the best new music we’ve come around during the week. Find it on Spotify here and check out our other music related content here to never miss a beat.


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