“Why be hostile to nature? Because after all, you ARE a symptom of nature. You, as a human being, you grow out of this physical universe in exactly the same way an apple grows off an apple tree.” – Alan Watts
Ever wonder what happens to us when we die? Perhaps it’s the same for us as an apple core: back to the earth we came from. Zosia’s EP ‘Symptoms of Nature’, released Friday, April 30th, will take you on an existential journey through the unknown and back to your roots. Listen in order, from first to last, and you might find your answer.
The music of Zosia meets the ears with an unpredictable familiarity. A soundscape so unique yet intuitively recognizable, you feel as though it was made just for you. Upon first listen, one notices the bewitching soundscapes and meld of genres, mixing together like a sophisticated cocktail. But dig a little deeper, hold onto the prose, and you’ll swallow the message Zosia aims to convey.
Thematically, Zosia’s EP ‘Symptoms of Nature’ is about our profound, and often buried, connection with nature. It begs us to examine our relationship to this cyclical earth, and so in turn with ourselves. Written during a terrible drought, the first song on the EP ‘Water’ reminds us how powerless we are over nature, and how critical the balance is. The last song on the EP (order matters, so don’t skip the journey), ‘Survival,’ was written as a final project for Zosia’s Communication and Death course: since we can never know for certain what death is for us, we are free to believe that we can, somehow, live on.
Enjoy our chat below to discover more about Zosia’s ideas on anxiety and creativity, and what inspired the tattoo on her shoulder:
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
For a long time I only listened to radio pop. I was obsessed with Britney Spears and Mandy Moore. By high school I completely switched to folk and indie music. My friends and I listened to a lot of Sufjan Stevens and Death Cab.
You’re so creative; what’s your journey been like to finding your voice, your sound, yourself?
It’s been a looong journey, which is probably true of most creatives. I’ve always had a lot of artistic interests and didn’t focus only on music until college. For a while I thought I wanted to go into fashion design because I loved to sew. Then I started studying music business and quickly realized that I wanted to pursue the performance side of music. I had been writing music for many years, but I was still searching for my sound. I spent a few years learning a lot about myself which naturally helped form my sound and style. ‘Water’ was one of the first songs I wrote that felt really authentic.
Tell us about that awesome EP cover!
Thank you! Another one of my creative interests is graphic design and illustration, and I knew I wanted to create something really eye-catching for this cover. The overarching theme of this EP is our deep connection with nature, so I wanted to show by body intertwined with plants in some way. It took many hours of experimenting, but I really love how it turned out.
“You, as a human being, you grow out of this physical universe in exactly the same way an apple grows off an apple tree.” If your fruits are music and art, what/where are your roots?
That’s a good question. I see my roots as my family and childhood. I inherited much of my artistic abilities from my mom, which was passed down to her by previous generations. In childhood I learned to dream and freely create. What I produce now stems from those years of exploring.
If someone knew nothing about you or your music, what would you want them to know before they dive into Symptoms of Nature?
I’d like them to know the EP follows my journey of existential reflection, so listen in order 🙂
Water was initially released in 2017; why was it important to you to have that song on the EP?
I’ve had the idea for this EP for a while now, and I always planned to include ‘Water.’ It tells part of the story that I didn’t want to cut out. It was written while I was still overwhelmed with anxiety and felt powerless against nature (we were in a terrible drought at the time). It became so clear how much we depend on nature and how important it is to find a way to work with it.
Did you have influences for this specific EP that you referenced or studied?
There are two albums that have really changed the way I write. The first is ‘Viva La Vida’ by Coldplay, which tells such an epic story. The themes transcend cultures and generations; it feels very uniting because of that. The second is ‘Two Suns’ by Bat For Lashes. The imagery is so beautiful and haunting, and her vocals really captivated me.
What inspired The Alter?
A couple years ago there was a sudden heartbreaking death in my family. We were all overcome with grief, and I naturally turned to songwriting to deal with my emotions.
I thought this song might also help immortalize the soul we lost.
Grief never goes away but changes; what advice would you give to someone moving through grief and loss right now?
I’d recommend you find some sort of creative outlet, even if you aren’t necessarily an artist. Talk with family, friends, and/or a therapist, and be really honest about how you feel. Read poetry, listen to calming music, spend time in nature.
We don’t know for certain what happens when we stop ‘surviving’ but we can totally speculate; any ideas to put in the pot?
If we came from the earth, then it makes sense that we will return back to it. Everything that makes up who we are will scatter and take on new forms. This is the idea I aim to convey in ‘The Alter.’ Alan Watts put it beautifully: “We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples’. Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”
It’s been said that anxiety is a lack of faith because it’s so often anticipatory; what weakens anxiety for you? Besides music?
I haven’t heard this point of view before, but I would argue that anxiety has many causes related more to the body than mind. It can be in your genes or brain chemistry. It can be caused by poor sleep or digestion. The most important thing is to find out the root cause of your anxiety and seek treatment if necessary. If it is due to stress or overthinking, then creative outlets are absolutely helpful.
Any good coping skills for anxiety to share?
The best remedy for me has been medication. It drastically decreased my anxiety almost immediately. I’ve also found talk therapy and journaling to be incredibly helpful. Putting my anxieties into words makes them feel much smaller. There are deep breathing exercises that can lower cortisol quickly and easily (YouTube is a great place to start).
What was 2020 like for you?
It started out with lots of disappointments and uncertainty and adjustment. I had some things in the works that were hard to let go of. But I learned to focus on my energy on things I could do during quarantine, like creating small-scale music videos and finishing this EP. I have enjoyed the extra time to work on projects, but I really do look forward to moving past this.
What do you have to have by you when you’re writing a song?
I actually write a lot of my songs while driving when I have very little on me. I guess the only thing I need is my phone so I can quickly record new ideas.
They say there’s strength in vulnerability; why?
Many people are reluctant to start any kind of therapy because the first stage is identifying the issue and spotlighting our pain. It’s terrifying to let down our guards and expose our fears and insecurities. But you have to be courageous to endure this exposure and work through it. And this will inevitably make you even stronger.
What did you study in college? How does it inform your music?
My major changed a few times, but I mainly studied music industry and communications. I gained a lot from my music internships because I could see what went into releasing music and marketing artists. I was also inspired by a few classes in unexpected ways. I wrote ‘Survival’ as the final project for my Communication and Death course. And I was very inspired by a class on the physics of music (it led to the tattoo on my shoulder).
What’s next for Zosia?
I have a bunch of new songs I’m excited to release including a cover, and I’d love to make a few videos for them. Hopefully play some shows this year too 🙂
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photos / courtesy of artist
story / Ari Tibi