Zolita Is a Dystopian Schoolgirl in New Video For ‘Holy’
21-year-old musician Zolita just dropped a new video for her song “Holy,” and it’s a Wes Anderson-esque dystopian work of art.
Set in what she calls a “patriarchal dystopian schoolhouse,” Zolita’s new video touches on issues that are especially important in the wake of Orlando. Check the video out below and read our interview with the artist.
Let’s talk about you as an artist first, how would you describe the type of music you create as far as influences and sounds?
I grew up playing bluegrass which has been a huge influence on the singer-songwriter aspect of my music. Right now I listen to a lot of R&B and that’s kind of where the darker side of my music comes in. My producer Ømen, who has worked with people like Beyonce and Drake, does mostly hiphop work so that’s how the cross genre music we make comes together. I like to say my sound is like a female centric Weeknd. That’s what I’m going for- dark, gothic, and sexy.
Your sexuality is a large theme throughout your work, how do you allow that to influence your art?
My goal as an artist is to tell stories that mean something to people who feel underrepresented. I want to make music for people who don’t have something that they can see themselves in, I want them to be able to turn to my music and find themselves. You know, obviously across the board, love is always a huge influence on any artist. I just happen to fall in love with women, and I make music about that!
Are you influenced by other artists that identify as queer, and if so, how?
The artists that I’m most influenced by are generally the ambiguous ones. I understand that people in the public eye kinda have a duty to label themselves, but I also understand the argument that they shouldn’t have to. Homophobia is obviously still very real and when artists come out it gives the LGBT community representation. But labels can also be stifling. It’s so tricky! Humans are complex and I really hope one day we get to a place where labels aren’t even necessary.
So you don’t want to be limited by labels like queer and things like that. How do you work around those labels then?
I don’t want to be known as a “lesbian artist.” I’m an artist who happens to make work that depicts lesbian love, and who happens to like women.
The media got accused of straight-washing the Orlando shootings, leaving out the LGBT community. Your music videos shed a lot of light on love that’s not straight, how important is it to you to address that area?
I think right now the concept of pride is more important than it has ever been, I’m very proud to make art that deals with that theme. When tragic events like Orlando happen the worst thing we can do is be silent because then we let hate win. The people who lost their lives were living proudly, they embraced every part of themselves, and they did not die in vain. I feel like the now more than ever the LGBT community has a duty to live even prouder and love even harder.
Do you think it’s a problem that not only the media, but also pop culture in general, has a lack of LGBT representation? How can we change pop culture to not be so straight?
We definitely need more representation. Representation has gotten a lot better in the indie fringe culture I exist in, but in mainstream media we are still underrepresented.
What was your inspiration for the “Holy” music video? It kind of reminds me of “The Crucible.”
That was actually a huge inspiration! Two of my biggest thematic influences were The Crucible and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve always loved how powerful and feminist the witch archetype is. The concept of the actual schoolhouse was heavily influenced by the world of the Handmaids Tale. The idea is that women are sent to schoolhouses at age 13 to be trained to become the perfect woman. I don’t know if it comes across, but my parents are the ones who own the schoolhouse, and I’m their daughter. Which makes the conclusion even more shocking. I have pages and pages of backstory… I want to turn Holy into a teen novel!
What was the process of filming the video?
It was an incredible experience. All of the girls in the video are close friends, and most of the kids that collaborated with me also worked with me on my last video. We spent the weekend together at this schoolhouse, two full days of shooting from 4AM to 12AM! I’m very lucky to be surrounded by friends that are so talented and believe in my work.
How did other people react to the video before you showed it to the public?
This one manager I showed it to told me it was too strident and that people didn’t want to see political arthouse films. I actually didn’t know what strident meant at the time so I quickly looked it up under the table and read, “presenting a point of view that’s controversial in an unpleasant way” and was like well yea, strident is exactly what I was going for!
Is there anyone within the LGBTQA+ community that you look up to?
I look up to Lady Gaga a lot. Mostly because of what she’s done for young people and the LGBT community. Born This Way changed so many lives! She’s an incredible artist and has had such a positive impact on mainstream culture.
Are you doing anything fun for Pride this weekend?
Definitely going to the parade! I don’t know how I’m going to top two years ago though, I dyed my hair completely rainbow and looked like a Lisa Frank character. Nevertheless, I’ll be spending all weekend dancing and celebrating with friends!