Photography and interview by Christopher Brown
Make-up and hair by Mariana McGrath
Hair by Mikey Legend
Singer, songwriter and artist Tzar has a classical piano training which is clearly evident in her music. We spoke to the talented artist about the influences of her Russian origins, self-confidence and the inspiration behind her new track.
You officially debuted your new single “Fuccboi Anthem” on February 26th. What was the inspiration behind the track and what is your writing process like when developing a song like this?
The inspiration was honestly a string of really one sided relationships – if you can even call them that – with men who were very lackluster for lack of a better term. At a certain point I had done enough introspection and healing to really be able to look at myself and decide that not only would I stop choosing relationships like that but that I should maybe even write a song dedicated to that stage of my life being over and to the men that were participants. The writing process was literally me doing a session with Sam (the producer/co-writer) and spilling my tea about the fuccboi of the week. After the session where we really were just catching up, I ended up getting into my car kind of heated and riled up after having told the story and just like slammed the steering wheel and yelled out “what a fuccboi! its like they need their own fucking anthem.” And after that it was like, “oh yeah, this is a no brainer.”
In conjunction with the single, you debuted the official music video on International Women’s Day. Can you tell us what the creative idea was behind the music video? What does IWD (International Women’s Day) mean to you? Are there any specific female musicians you look up to in the industry?
Humor is a really big element of my personality, I spent so many days out of the week at the Comedy Store before covid hit. And to be honest, before this video I hadn’t really shown that side of personality in video form yet, so we just decided to kind of roll with something more light hearted and jokey because I had to kind of just laugh at that stage of my life.
IWD is a huge holiday in Russia (where I’m from) – so it’s heavily integrated into my culture and traditions. So it’s been pretty innately ingrained in me as an important holiday since I was a kid. Now it’s taken on so many meanings – it’s just become a day to reflect on the magic women bring to the world, it should be IWD everyday let’s be real.
Your music is very female driven with heavy notes of self-confidence. Who inspires you musically? What advice would you give to other female acts starting out in the music industry and for those who have trouble finding their self-confidence?
I honestly feel like my musical inspirations are endless. And heavily just depend on my mood and whatever is flowing through me energy wise that day. Some days I listen to Garbage and then it’ll turn into a week straight of ABBA. Then I’ll tap into some 60’s soviet jazz. It really all just depends on my mood. Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed with this band Brevin Kim.
I think if I had to give advice to any female entering the music industry it would be to never be afraid to speak up as well as always feeling confident in asking for what you want and voicing your opinion. If you’re having trouble finding self-confidence, I’d say look inward. Seek therapy. Learn to trust surrendering and have faith that the universe will align you in exactly the ways that are meant for you.
“I honestly feel like my musical inspirations are endless. And heavily just depend on my mood and whatever is flowing through me energy wise that day.”
You were originally born in Russia and then immigrated to San Francisco as a child. How does your background inspire your music? What was the hardest part about adapting to American culture as a child?
Being Russian is definitely runs super deep – I don’t even notice it to be honest – but it’s definitely been a super substantial influence on my life and my musical journey. Culturally music was and is super respected and cultivated in Russia. Because of that I was able to start learning piano super young and really knew music before I even knew how to speak. All my conscious thoughts from since I can remember had the influence of music. And that’s definitely thanks to how much weight music carries in the Russian culture – Russia’s super rich musical history had history shifting influences from composers like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff among so many others.
The hardest part about adapting to American culture was just honestly everything lol. I couldn’t speak English when I moved, so it was really just like having to listen and having no choice but being fully immersed – so learning how to speak was definitely one of them.
But in conjunction with that kind of always feeling like I didn’t belong and that I was always “othered” was something I struggled with for a really long time. Being a third culture kid wasn’t really discussed or understood, so it took a really long time for me to settle into being someone who felt like I didn’t belong in Russia or in America. But at the same time this fueled me to create, I think. The experience of the move and then having to grow up in America really informed my identity as someone who had to embrace fluidity.
“The experience of the move and then having to grow up in America really informed my identity as someone who had to embrace fluidity.”
You’ve worked with many talented producers including Djemba Djemba. Who would be your dream producer to collaborate with?
My dream producer. Wow. I don’t know if I can narrow it down, but since I was like 12 I’ve had the dream to work with Timbaland just because so much of his music allowed me to see adventure in creation. That would definitely be a dream come true.
How have you continued to stay inspired during quarantine? Have you picked up any new hobbies or fallen into any quarantine trends?
Inspiration through quarantine came from introspection for sure. I started to listen to the quiet, you know? I was already a subscriber to a kind of introverted/introspective way of being, but that hit even deeper when the whole world got quiet.
I’ve definitely picked up cooking during quarantine! I eat so much lmfao. But now I actually made a point to explore cooking and it has become a super meditative and rewarding hobby.
What’s next for TZAR?
Well, I have some more singles coming out very soon. And an EP dropping this summer! And after that *fingers crossed* lets pray shows are a thing again and I can go out and start performing these records live on tour!