Zhavia Talks New Single, “100 Ways,” & Her Debut EP: Interview

Zhavia's Soulful 'Deep Down'
The 17-year-old shows off her powerful pipes on new single, 'Deep Down.'

After showcasing her huge voice and unique style on Fox’s The Four, Zhavia Ward quickly inked a deal with Columbia Records. The transition from talent show standout to real-life artist can be rough, but the 17-year-old hasn’t put a foot wrong. She made a splashy debut with a feature on Diplo, French Montana and Lil Pump’s appropriately-titled “Welcome To The Party” and then landed streaming hits with “Candlelight” and “Deep Down.” The talented teenager now returns with a banger called “100 Ways.”

I recently caught up with the newcomer to find out more about “100 Ways,” an empowering ode to thinking outside the box. Zhavia also opened up about her eclectic sound (she bounces around between pop, rock, R&B, soul, hip-hop and reggae) and gave a couple of insights into her upcoming debut EP. Other topics of conversation include growing up in a musical family and receiving vocal advice from fellow belter Jessie J. Get to know the rising star a little better in our Q&A below and watch her new video at the bottom of the post.

“100 Ways” sounds completely different to “Deep Down” and “Candlelight.” Is that intentional?

Yeah. I mean, as a writer and as an artist, you have different feelings and with those different feelings come different sounds. You know what I mean? I feel like even though they’re so diverse, they connect all in certain ways.

Who produced it?

Oak, he’s really amazing. It was really cool because he’s just so fast with his thinking process. He already knew all the harmonies that he wanted on which parts when we were producing the vocal and when I was singing, he said “Okay, sing this one, sing this one.” Usually, I come up with all of my harmonies and I was just, “Okay.” But it was cool because he gave it a different sound. It sounds big.

The song is really upbeat and positive. What inspired it?

“100 Ways” is about how, in my life, I’ve learned that no matter what obstacles present themselves, I can get around it. I can find a way around it because there’s not one way to do something. You know what I mean? My passion and love for what I do drives that.

The video is cool.

Thank you! It’s just supposed to be a vibe. It’s very moody and it’s just kind of me kind of yelling at the camera like, “What’s up?” and how I feel because for me, I love to have a message.

So, you have three songs. Is an EP or album coming?

My EP is coming out at the top of the year.

What’s it called?

[Laughs]. The title of the EP… honestly, I don’t even know if we have a title yet. I don’t know if it’s just going to be called Zhavia or 100 Ways. I’m trying to decide.

How many songs?

There’s six.

That’s almost an album…

I might do a whole different album just because I want to give my fans something new. Instead of trying to recycle the songs that I put out earlier in the year. You know what I mean? Unless it’s like the rest of a story. I feel like the album would be like a whole new era of my life.

Will there be any features on the EP?

Yes! I have a song coming out with a feature at the beginning of the year and that is a reggae song.I can’t say who it is. [Laughs].

“Welcome To The Party” was quite the introduction. What was it like being on a song with Diplo, French Montana and Lil Pump?

It was really cool because the first song that I did on The Four, well, second one, but it was the same night, was “Unforgettable” by Swae Lee and French Montana. It was really cool that I got to do a song with him as my first release after leaving the show. It was a full circle moment.

Who brought you guys together?

When the show ended, I started writing right away and I was writing for maybe like two months and Columbia Records signed me. So Ron Perry, the chairman, was like “Hey, there’s this song for the Deadpool 2 soundtrack that Diplo produced and I think you would sound really cool on it.” It was a really last minute thing. I just went to the nearest studio and recorded it really quick, just singing the chorus and sent it back. They were like, “Okay, yeah, sounds cool. Let’s do it.”

Did you meet all the guys at the video shoot?

I met French Montana and Lil Pump, but I didn’t meet Diplo. French was really nice. Lil Pump was really quiet, surprisingly. I thought he was going to be loud, because he is always turning up in his videos. So I thought he was going to be hype.

What has the ride been like so far?

I feel like my whole life, I’ve kind of known that it’s not an easy job. It’s not an easy career to choose, but I didn’t choose it. It chose me. Just kidding. [Laughs]. It has been a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work. You got to work hard to play hard. And I’m down for the work because I love it.

What has been the biggest sacrifice?

I can’t sleep. I’m so busy that I don’t get a lot of sleep sometimes. On my days off, I would sleep the whole day. I don’t really go out or anything. I don’t. I just work.

What is the most surreal thing to happen to you so far?

Maybe when Jessie J invited me to her concert. That was really cool. That was the first time that I saw her live and I always wanted to go see her live when I was younger, but I couldn’t afford it. That was really cool. I was performing the next day, so she really inspired me for my next show. I was in a situation where the sound kept getting messed up, so I had to entertain the crowd while they were trying to fix it. I was like, “Okay, what would Jessie J do?”

Did you get a chance to talk to her?

Yeah. She was really cool. She was telling me about how hard she works to take care of her voice because it’s important. I was like “Oh, my God. I should probably start.” I should probably start eating less sugar because it messes up your vocal chords.

Really?

Yeah. Dairy, all that, messes up your voice.

So, what can you eat?

I don’t know. [Laughs]. Let me ask Jessie J and get back to you.

I know you were recording music even before The Four. How long have you been on this journey?

I’ve been on it since day one. Both of my parents are singers, so I just grew up in it and that’s all I knew. That’s all that was around me. My dad is an artist as well and so is my mom. Just expressing yourself and being creative and being an individual is something that they taught me early on. I don’t remember everything from when I was a little kid, but my dad told me that the first song that I wrote and sang to him was a gospel song because he would play gospel music. He would play gospel rap. He played everything.

Were your parents in a band?

My mom had a band, she had a metal band called Xenoterra. She was doing that for a few years and then they would just do shows, here and there. My dad spent more time writing. I feel like for them, it was more about being an artist than being popular. You know what I mean? I feel like some people just want to create and some people want to create, but they also want to have a bigger platform.

They must be so proud of you.

Yeah. It’s really cool to continue what they created for themselves and what they’ve created for me along the way.

People are obsessed with your style.

It’s funny because when I was a little kid, maybe in elementary school, I would draw myself how I wanted to look. I would draw myself with dreads. I would draw myself with tattoos. I’d draw myself with piercings. I’d draw myself with the fashion that I liked because that was something that I was so interested in and for me, it’s just so fun to wear all these different things and just experiment with different styles. I feel like I got a lot of my style from my parents because they’re so fashionable.

Thank you for you time!

Thank you! It was fun!

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