After the premiere run of her theatrical dark comedy Hell Hath No Fury at His Majesty’s Theatre last month, Western Australian writer, musician and performer Zalia Joi is set to release one of the show’s feature tracks, Bomb Shock, as a single this Friday, August 13. As the clock ticks down to its release, BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with Zalia Joi to find out how much like the play itself, the track is both a positive message born out of – and a fiery response to – the “Basement of Hell” she found her way out of.
Congrats on the release of your new single Bomb Shock this week. Do you recall when you first started writing the song and what were you feeling at the time?
Thank you so much! Yes… the song started coming out as part of a song-writing course with Aminah Hughes. I had an experience where my life was turned on its ear and I was putting back the pieces.
Around that time, I found that the only way I could make sense of my life was to sing everything. I would wake up and sing what was on my mind. It helped me not have to hold onto the feelings. Music was the only thing that I could focus on and hold onto to stop me from really going down the downward spiral.
I wrote this song as part of a class exercise. We were working with concrete images and I started to write down how I felt and what had happened. On my way home I started singing over and over. “Then my blood dropped/ and the world stopped/ and the 10-week churning it swapped/ out with the bomb shock/ then my tears locked/ and the universe that I knew/ would be no more.”
I got inside and plonked on the piano and the song began. It was originally called Broken Queen then Holocaust and it was only after workshopping with a dear friend Sean Downs that he said the title has to be Bomb Shock.
And how has the song changed from how you originally expected to what it is today?
It is better than what I had imagined! I always had wanted it to be a heavy song, with distortion and a de-tuned bass. Something to impinge how I felt. I love the dirty sounds of Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden, Disturbed with the gutsy-ness of strong female vocals like Alanis Morrisette, Suze DeMarchi, Tarja Turunen and P!nk.
What was the process of capturing the tune on record and who helped make it come to life?
I was chatting to a long-time friend Vinnie Crea about direction. He is the course Coordinator/ Musical Director for the Music Artist Course at WAAPA. I had written a bunch of songs and was thinking about going back to study. Vinnie suggested I give his friend Eddie Parise a call. Eddie was the bass player from The Baby Animals, who were, ironically, a major influence in my early career. Being from Perth and just giants in the world music scene they were very inspiring to me growing up.
Like most people, I love to have synchronicity in my life and meeting Eddie made it very easy for me to decide I wanted to record with him. He is an incredible producer and really duplicated what I wanted. He asked if I wanted the song to be a folk song as I played it for him on acoustic guitar. I was like – “Hell no!” The reference song is The Sound of Silence by Disturbed. When he sent it back, he asked if it was “too heavy” but it was perfect.
I then got an old friend Dave Reynolds – amazing guitarist – who I used to write with, and a new friend Jesse Brewer to lay down the solos. Jesse added the screams and swirls through the bridge, and Dave catapulted musically the feeling of what happens when one’s whole life implodes. When I listened to it the first time the feel of the song was exactly as I had imagined. They all did such an amazing job.
The tune was used recently in the play Hell Hath No Fury…how did the themes of the song tie in with the story of the play?
The show was about how to get out of the Basement of Hell when you find yourself there. Bomb Shock was the song that opened the show, what the lead character sings before finding herself in the Basement of Hell. It set up the show. It sets up betrayal and how to deal with it. Bomb Shock was the starting point, but it is the other songs in the show that carry through the narrative and how to get out of that dark place. Bomb Shock is about what happens when you find out some news that changes your life forever.
Is this release a step in a new direction for your creative career…can we expect any new music from you in the future and if so, what might it sound like?
I’ve been performing since I was about four, played guitar since I was nine and been writing music and theatre since I was 13. Writing this song and having it produced has definitely aligned me to my purpose which is to be of service through sound and to create and communicate that which touches and moves people.
It feels like finally I have taken the courage to put myself out there. For so long I have had the most crippling insecurities. But now, I’m like “Fuck it!” What the world needs now is people to take courage to create, create, create. So knock it off and just do it!
I want to create music that unifies people and puts emotion, word and music to their experiences and feelings. I am just about to embark upon recording of the other songs from the show, which were well received in doing the show and because of the reception it has given me conviction to continue recording.
I feel like I’m 17 again and that I’m creating from that place of “everything is possible!” I am aware though to keep my feet on the ground whilst my head knocks about with the clouds. May we all have the courage to pour coals on our creative fires!