“I don’t want to hear about bitches and hoes and pimps and all that shit,” says singer-songwriter Kady Z. “Like Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me,’ I just want to cry sometimes. I don’t want to hear a freakin’ beat in my ear. …. Nobody is just one [emotion]. I’m not always this awesome! I’m just kidding, but I have my sad. We all do.” As the daughter of 1960s entertainer Pia Zadora, Kady Z is candid spirit. She’s been performing since the age of three, joining her mother on stage at various shows. In 2012, Kady dropped her first solo project, an EP titled, One Million Pieces, followed by a full-length album, Ordinary Girl. Of her single “Crush Gone Wrong” from the aforementioned album, Kady reveals: “I was like, okay, we can either take this in the serious, heartbreak, this-is-never-going-to-work-kind-of–thing. Or we could take it in this light-hearted but a little creepy, stalker-y way about maybe having a crush on Justin Beiber and stalking him or something.”
To Kady, songwriting is a cathartic experience. “It’s therapy, you know?” From broken relationships to broken friendships, the singer takes the heartache she feels and turns it into danceable, light-hearted pop songs. When asked about what we we can expect from her forthcoming EP, she responds nonchalantly: “More relationship stuff. More bullshit that we all have to deal with …ugh. What are you going to do? Therapy costs a lot more than just writing.” Check out The Untitled Magazine’s exclusive interview with the singer below.
The Untitled Magazine: I understand you started performing at the age of three?
KZ: Yes! I started because my mom’s a singer. I’ve been joking that my mom is Richard Gere! Haha! I think… have you heard of her? I’m just kidding! I’m sorry. I’ve been crazy today. So she started performing, and I started performing with her. I’ve always been around it, but I stopped for a while. Then in high school, I did a school play, and I was like, ‘Oh, I got this.’ It was in front of my class. I started singing, and my voice was like, not even there, because I was so nervous. But I didn’t even realize that I was so nervous. Anyway, that was in high school. But yeah, I’ve been performing since then.
UM: When did you decide to transition from theater work to pop music?
KZ: It’s sort of like you’re finding what you love and how you want to go forth [with it]. I know that sounds silly, but I met up with my former manager, who introduced me to my now writing partner and producer, Tone [Def]. That’s when the pop thing kind of formed. It’s hard to do – it’s hard for me, I mean. I play the guitar and I write, but when you put it together with somebody who knows what they’re doing, you can go, ‘Oh, I like this.’ I was a huge fan of Robyn and Gwen Stefani. I say it all the time, but it’s true. And, Richard Gere, haha. I wanted to bring that [influence] into the music. Robyn’s melodies are very rich, and at the same time, they’re dance-y. And her lyrics have a purpose. So we put it all together, and then we formed “Ordinary Girl” and the album.
UM: How did you create “Ordinary Girl?” What was the inspiration for that?
KZ: We just did another interview, and I said that Tone was the inspiration. He was a stripper and I met him in a male strip club, and it’s about him. He’s the ordinary girl! No, it’s all kind of about a relationship that I was in that I’m not in anymore. Love is what everything’s about, right? So I would come in one day with an idea, and Tone would have a thing, and eventually it formed this story. It takes you on a ride through my relationship. It was kind of an abusive relationship, not physically, but… I’m just getting too personal, aren’t I? Where is Richard Gere when I need him? Anyway, that’s kind of how it formed, and I don’t know, I’m very proud of it. It’s a journey. You always think you made it out of something, and then something else happens, and you know, life’s a bitch, and then you die.
UM: Can you tell me about the song, “Crush Gone Wrong”?
KZ: With that song, Tone actually had this chorus idea. It was; “This is not a love song, it’s a crush gone wrong.” I was like, okay, we can either take this in the serious, heartbreak, this-is-never-going-to-work-kind-of–thing. Or we could take it in this light-hearted but a little creepy, stalker-y way about maybe having a crush on Justin Beiber and stalking him or something. So it’s kind of random, but somehow it all fit together. It was all from my own experience.
UM: You released an EP afterwards, which featured acoustic renditions of the songs off of Ordinary Girl. Why did you decide to do that?
KZ: I was just talking to somebody about this the other day. Pop singers and pop songs kind of get a bad rap because you think, ‘Well, this song is just a bunch of bells and whistles and this is not an actual real song. It’s just produced.’ Each song we wrote on an acoustic guitar or on the piano, and turned it into an electronic song. I was really excited, and I wanted to translate them back into just the song. Just take the song, give it a mood, and have it be centered on the vocals. To do a cover of my own song, in a way.
UM: How was that experience for you?
KZ: It was exciting. It was amazing. And actually Robyn did that as well with a couple of her songs. She got a quartet and had them perform a pop-song, but it’s this lush instrumental sonata, aria. I was like, ‘I need to do that.’ I want to hear each of these songs in a new light. Because they’re your babies, in a weird way. It’s very inspiring and very exciting.
UM: It’s almost like writing a new song.
KZ: It is, yeah. Because again, it’s the same song but it kind of gives it a new vibe and ambiance, if that makes sense.
UM: Going back to your mother, would you say she’s acted as your mentor?
KZ: I guess she’s been my mentor in the sense that she’s always been very blunt and very honest about… you know, she didn’t want me to be a singer, and in a way it kind of threw me into wanting to do it more. She loves my songs and she’s very, very honest. So it makes me feel good when she’s like, “ I love this song. I was just listening to it in the car.” And she’s been in it, and she’s done it. As crazy as she is, she’s somehow managed to keep a straight head on her shoulders. Or maybe I managed to keep a straight head on her shoulders, who knows? But yeah, she’s always been there. She’s always been supportive but honest, which I think you need, because you can’t really trust anyone but your parents.
UM: If you could collaborate with any musician, who would it be?
KZ: Oh, wow. You know, this answer changes daily. I would love John Lennon to come back from the dead, and be like, “Let’s do it.” But I’m a huge fan of Ed Sheeran. It’s very similar — the styles — and I just love his voice, his lyrics, and I just think he’s amazing. His first album was my shit. It was the best. +. I think X is good too, but I feel like when you start to collaborate with big producers, your sound changes a little bit, and that’s not why people fell in love with you in the beginning. But I still love him. I would definitely say Ed Sheeran. For right now. If you ask me that question in twenty minutes…
UM: You might change your mind completely.
KZ: I can’t promise you I’m not going to say Richard Gere!
UM: Where do you find inspiration? What makes you want to write songs?
KZ: Normally it’s the shittiest thing ever. When something amazing happens to me, I just want to go and eat chips. But when something shitty happens to me, then I’m going to be like, ‘Oh my god, I need to write this down and do something.’ I’m always writing down ideas on my phone, which is sad because I have a journal I just don’t always have it with me. I always feel like it’s old-fashioned, but there’s something to it, you know? Like reading a book rather than a Kindle.
UM: Were you always writing?
KZ: Yeah. A couple of years ago, I had a falling out with my best friend, and I was with Tone. We were writing the first EP, and I was like, ‘I hate her face right now.’ I was like, ‘You know what? I want to write a break up song about my ex-best friend.’ And we did. It’s called, “Fun.” Some of the words are ‘And I just hate your face,’ and it’s amazing // It’s fun, fun, so much fun. I’m breaking up with everyone.’ So we wrote it, because I’d just broken up with my boyfriend, and I broke up with her, and people were pissing me off. And it felt great. I’m best friends with her again. But [at the time] it was a good. It’s therapy, you know?
UM: It’s kind of cathartic…
KZ: It is! And it’s very sarcastic too.
UM: If you weren’t into music, what do you think you would be doing instead?
KZ: I say baking a lot, but I’m a shitty baker. I don’t know, a bartender?
UM: Bartender is cool. You know, talking to people, getting to know people’s stories.
KZ: Kind of cool. Or a therapist. Psychiatrist? Or I don’t know. I wouldn’t. I would die. Can I say that? It’s true!
UM: Do you have a motto that you live by, or any words of wisdom that you can convey?
KZ: I do! It’s so funny, my mom – she doesn’t even know how genius she is sometimes – a year ago, I was with my brother, and he answered the phone, pretending to be me. But it was really bad. He’s like, “Hello,” and she’s like “Hi! How are you…” Obviously, this was not me. It was a guy. She was like, “How are you?” and he’s like, “Uh, I’m okay.” She’s like, “Yeah, sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.” That’s what she said! And he was like, “Mom, what the hell is wrong with you?” She was like, “Oh! I thought you were my friend. She’s having a nervous breakdown.” So now, it works for everything – sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t. Think about it. Next time something shitty happens, just think, “sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t…”
UM: I’ll give that a try!
KZ: It works, I swear! Just keep it, and one day you’ll be like, that bitch is right! So just try it, and let me know. It works, I swear to you. Every time I say it, it puts a smile on my face, and I’m like, it’s going to be okay.
UM: Can you give us an example of when that happened?
KZ: Yeah! It happened yesterday. I don’t remember what it was, but she’d said it! She’s like, “Sometimes…” and I’m like, “Sometimes you do…” and she doesn’t even remember that she said it. I do. I actually made a shirt that says it. I had it made, and it has this happy tiger and this sad donkey for “sometimes you don’t” like Eeyore. I know I was kind of excited, but I cannot think of it! Damn it! But you’ll see though, it’s going to happen.
UM: So what are you up to right now?
KZ: I’m working on some new material in the studio, and I’m just coming and talking to you. Some good stuff!
UM: We were listening to your music and it’s nice because you talk about some really emotionally heavy things in a really lighthearted and fun way.
KZ: Thank you! I try. A lot of songs these days… Why do you want to listen to soft rock from the 80s? Because they talk about real things! I don’t want to hear about bitches and hoes and pimps and all that shit. Like Bonnie Raitt’s “ I Can’t Make You Love Me,” I just want to cry sometimes. I don’t want to hear a freakin’ beat in my ear. Also, that’s the other side of it. I do the really upbeat pop stuff, but at the same time, sometimes you just, you don’t want to hear that shit. You want to just relax. I feel like it’s a good balance. Nobody is just one [emotion]. I’m not always this awesome! I’m just kidding, but I have my sad. We all do. You can’t just say, oh yeah, I’m a pop princess with no other soul. Maybe I’m feeling a little moody and bitchy today, and I want to put this version on. This is normal for everyone. Sometimes you want to listen to Richard Marx. He’s coming out with new stuff, by the way. Gotta love that guy!
UM: So you’re just working on a bunch of new music – an EP and album?
KZ: Yes. Good, good stuff. EP, yep. More relationship stuff. More bullshit that we all have to deal with …ugh. What are you going to do? Therapy costs a lot more than just writing. I’m not sure exactly how we’re going to release it, but we’ve got some fun new stuff!