Music ZZ Ward

ZZ Ward

Talking blues, hip hop with ZZ Ward

Published on June 26th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

ZZ Ward’s debut album “Til the Casket Drops” came out less than a year ago and it’s been a whirlwind year for her ever since. Her first single, “Put the Gun Down,” was a hit and she’s been touring almost non-stop ever since. She plays Thursday at Wooly’s.

Q: You’ve got this show in Des Moines, and you’re also playing next week at Saturday in the Park in Sioux City. Have you ever played in Iowa before?

No, I haven’t. This will be my first time.

Q: How did you first get interested in the blues?

My parents listened to a lot of blues. My dad would listen to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Big Mama Thornton, so they initially sparked my interest in the blues. I don’t know, I guess I was that weird little kid that liked something beyond my time.

Q: When did you start getting into  hip hop?

Through my brother. He would listen to Nas and Jay-Z and I would steal his CDs even though I wasn’t supposed to (laughs).

Q: When did you realize you could merge the blues and hip hop into your own performance style?

I think when I moved down to LA I really started to embrace my style and who I was. Before that it was always there, but I took me a bit to figure out if I could make the music I wanted to make and if people would like it or not. It took me a little bit of time, but on this record I definitely embraced both styles.

Q: It’s been less than a year since “Til The Casket Drops.” What’s been the most exciting or surprising part of this year for you?

There’s been so much. Touring… having fans can be the coolest thing. Getting new fans is really exciting, since I never had fans before. You go to places you’ve never been to before in the country and people know your music is the most exciting thing for me.

Q: For your songwriting, do personal experiences inform that, or do you prefer to make up stories?

I write a lot from personal experience, for sure. For me to be sincere in what I’m talking about, I like to write about what I’m feeling. That’s what attracted me to the blues.

Q: As far as contemporary blues artists, are there artists whose music you’re enjoying that people should seek out?

Yeah, I think the newest to the scene is probably Gary Clark Jr. I think that he’s a force to be reckoned with. If you ever get a chance to check out one of his shows, you should definitely go. It kind of transports you to a different time. I just saw him play in LA, and I’ve toured with him before. He’s like a new kid in the blues genre.

Q: I’ve read you’re doing some writing out on the road.  How does that compare to  how you usually do it?

It’s different. You have to make time. If you can make time to write, then  you’re good. It doesn’t matter where I’m writing, if I’m at home in LA or in a crappy motel in the middle of the country, I can still write a song.

Q: You’ve been touring  like crazy for this record. Have you had a chance to take a break?

No, not really. But  that’s OK because I love what I do. I think I’m very blessed to be able to do music and to be doing it every day. I try to make time to relax when I’m in LA,

ZZ Ward

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Wooly’s, 504 E. Locust St.

Cost: $15-$17

Info: or

About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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