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Exclusive Interview: The Rise of Rockstar Zoe Ko

In the digital era, musicians have a better chance than ever to be discovered. While many view the internet as a way to find instant fame, it also provides us a track record of the length of a journey artists take before trending and catapulting to a new level of recognition.  While I don’t believe in gatekeeping music, it feels like a gift to stumble upon an unknown artist before the rest of the world discovers them. 

Just a few months ago, as I mindlessly scrolled on Instagram Reels (don’t judge me), my thumb stopped in its tracks as I heard the most infectious beat, with an edgy/rebellious flare resembling the early days of Ke$ha. I was instantly hooked. Thanks to the mysterious wonders of the algorithm, I discovered my new favorite song, “Dirt” and my newest hyperfixation, Zoe Ko.

The alt-pop singer came into the scene two years ago after releasing her first single, “Line”. Since then, she has kept busy, ending 2023 with the release of her first EP, “Baby Teeth”. Then, within the first half of 2024, she signed with Big Loud Rock, released her first two tracks under the label “Dirt” and “Eat,” and just concluded her US and Canada tour with Games We Play. I had the privilege of chatting with Ko about her music and what she has planned next.

How would you describe your music to first-time listeners?

Cheeky, flirtatious, alt-pop bangers that make you dance and sing. 

What story did you want to convey when you wrote your first EP “Baby Teeth”?

Each song was about my past or a new problem I was dealing with. “Baby Teeth” was about myself holding on to past traumas and not letting them go. “Petri Dish” was about the new girl I was becoming and me in my hoe phase. “Pink Noise” is me discovering the common struggles of a woman in today's society. “Tangerine” is introspective about my past, upbringing, and hardships, and still trying to have a positive outlook on life. “Rib Cage” is about my hardships growing up but finding healing in new relationships and love.  I think it’s all about growing up, coming to terms with your past, and eventually finding yourself and what matters to you most. 

How did you come up with the title “Pink Noise”?

Honestly, I was in class at NYU, and we were learning about the different types of noises, like white noise and pink noise, etc. I loved the phrase pink noise from a while ago and never let it go. I thought it would be the perfect metaphor for pure feminine rage. 

I noticed a lot of familiar faces in the “Pink Noise” music video: King Mala, Catie Turner, Sophie Truax, and many more.  What was it like having so many fellow artists on set? 

Omg, it was so fun!!! Love all of them, and it was the perfect powerful girl group I had envisioned having in this music video. 

Your recent single, “Dirt”, is an absolute banger! With an infectious beat and catchy lyrics longing for the grit of NYC. Could you dive a bit into the headspace you were in while writing this track? 

I had just moved to LA from my beloved city, NYC, and boy, I missed the city. I missed the clubbing lifestyle and crazy dirty nights out with my girls. So, I wanted to create a song I’d hear in one of my clubs about missing the DIRT and wanting DIRT in general. It was mainly just fun and hilarious to write. That’s why it’s so fun and such a good listen: you can feel the fun we had while making it. 

After living in NYC and LA, where do these cities differentiate within their music scene?

I don’t know how different they are. There are definitely more influencer artist figures in LA, and LA has a bigger music industry at the moment, but in general, they operate the same, just in different sizes. 

 What can we expect next from you? Maybe some new music?

Yessss, so many new songs are on the way!! I'm excited about the music video and, hopefully, more shows soon! All leading up to another project this year :) 

You can find all of Zoe Ko's music on Apple Music and Spotify.

Written and Interviewed by Ashley Murphy

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