We Interviewed Zoe Kravitz And Her Band Lolawolf And They Didn’t Seem To Like Us Very Much

In fact she told us off for asking ridiculous questions. Which is weird. Questions about cats are never ridiculous.


by Michael Cragg |

Fronted by actress/singer Zoe Kravitz, New York-based agit-pop trio Lolawolf have been creating quite the head of steam since they released their self-titled EP at the start of 2014. Full of delicate, 80s-inspired synth-lead songs that EP's sound has been well and truly ripped apart and rebuilt on the band's brilliantly raucous full-length debut, Calm Down. Like the mouthy, bastard son of Santigold and 90s-era Timbaland, it's an album to freak out too, which makes its title feel more like helpful advice than anything soothing.

About to start a second tour supporting Lily Allen (they also opened for pop's reigning Queen of rebellion Miley Cyrus recently), we had a chat with two-thirds of the band from their hotel in Paris. As you're about to see, it started well enough but then just sort of fizzled out.

I thought I'd be speaking to two-thirds of Lolawolf but it's all of you isn't it?

Zoe Kravitz: No Jimmy (Giannopoulos) just had to go to the bathroom and might be a while.

Oh dear. Can you introduce yourselves with an interesting fact please.

James: I'm James Levy and I have a receding hairline.

Zoe: I'm Zoe Kravitz and I make a really good crumble. Like a berry crumble.

I'm a fan of apple crumble, personally.

Zoe: I can make you an apple crumble.

What's been the best thing to happen to you today?

Zoe: Our friend made us a bunch of omelettes which is basically the best thing to happen to us in a while.

Do either of your keep a diary?

Zoe: No, I don't. Do you?

James: No.

Zoe: That's dangerous territory man.

In what way?

Zoe: I feel like someone's always going to read it.

James: People read other people's journals all the time.

Zoe: People can read all the emotions and thoughts and feelings that you've bottled up inside. English people do that a lot right? Bottle up their emotions?

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Of course, we love doing that.

Zoe: Songwriting becomes a diary for me in a way.

What's the story behind the band name please?

Zoe: Oh it's my brother and my sister's names together.

How do they feel about that?

Zoe: They're six and seven so they don't really care. Maybe one day they will but right now they don't care at all.

Do they realise you're in a band?

Zoe: Yeah they do. They're kind of like 'oh cool, anyway...'. They call it Zo Zo music.

When I put your new album into my iTunes the genre category didn't automatically come up. Which one should I set it as?

Zoe: Everyone's putting it under electronic, that's what people are saying about it. Electronic sounds really specific or something, I don't know. I feel like it has a lot more R&B, but with electronic elements. There's a pop thing going on as well. I'd say Electronic R&B or something like that.

I'll put it under Alternative & Pop I think.

James: That works.

Zoe: Pop always makes sense.

The album's called Calm Down. Are you talking to yourself or the listener with that title?

Zoe: Everyone involved. The listener, ourselves, just everybody.

Is everyone a bit too uptight nowadays?

Zoe: Everyone's a little too something at some point, you know. It's definitely a mantra for myself. Sometimes it's good to just calm down.

When was the last time you had to tell yourself to calm down?

Zoe: This morning (laughs).

What are your individual roles in the band?

Zoe: Just as functioning people? Jimmy gets shit done.

James: Yeah Jimmy's the producer so he gets shit done for sure.

Zoe: He's like 'you want to make music? What day? What time?' It's easy to talk a lot and not get stuff done but he makes things happen. James is the vibe master. He makes sure the lighting is correct. He leaves a lot but he also comes back, which is good because we're sad when he leaves and happy when he comes back. And what do I do?

James has to tell me what you do in the band.

James: Zoe is the face of the whole thing.

Zoe: I go the gym.

James: Zoe has to make sure she looks good alongside two old men.

Oh God.

James: I'm kidding. Zoe's the vibe. Obviously.

There's a lot of vibe in this band.

James: I guess.

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Your debut EP was written and recorded while you, Zoe, were filming The Road Within, in which you played a character with anorexia. Did that impact the music you were making? Did you see the band as a distraction?

Zoe: Yeah, that was definitely the point. I needed to find a way to keep myself sane while I was shooting. It was something for me to do that was positive and creative, you know.

Is that sort of how the band started? Was it by accident almost?

Zoe: Yeah that was kind of it. We had been messing around and playing music before but just for fun, but we always said we wanted to do more but never did it. I thought that was a good opportunity for us to make more music together.

The new album's quite different in terms of sound. Less synth-lead than the EP and much more abrasive. Was it a conscious decision to change tact slightly?

Zoe: It wasn't a conscious decision. We just put a little more thought into it. There was more of a concept going on with it. We wanted to push ourselves in a different direction and we took a bit more time working out what we wanted to do.

I'm really enjoying the demurely-titled Bitch. What's that one about?

Zoe: What is that one about? Jimmy wrote that chorus at Coachella watching Outkast and he started rapping that part over whatever Outkast were performing at that time. He texted it to me so he wouldn't forget. You'd have to ask him about that one really.

Is he still in the toilet?

Zoe: He is still in the toilet.

Oh God.

Zoe: (Laughs) The way I adapted it is just as some kind of mantra of being the most badass version of yourself.

Zoe, did people always assume you'd end up making music because of who your dad is (her dad is Lenny Kravitz, obviously)?

Zoe: I don't know what people think I'm not a mind-reader. My mum said that she always thought I would do that but was surprised when I went into acting instead. But now I guess she's not surprised, I don't know.

What do you get from acting that you don't from singing and vice versa?

Zoe: I guess acting is a little more of a challenge for me because you're working for somebody and trying to make someone else's vision come to life and in music it's about doing what I want to do because I want to do it.

You've recently finished tours with both Lily Allen and Miley Cyrus. What were they like?

Zoe: It was a lot of fun. It was an experience for us. They were both really kind to us, them and their audiences.

Were you tempted to dress up in one of Miley's massive animal suits?

Zoe: That surprisingly never crossed my mind. How about you James?

James: Yeah, wait, how many animal suits does she have?

Loads James!

James: Oh. I guess we never really thought about it to be honest.

If you had a pet kitten, who would you trust more to look after it while you went on holiday - Lily or Miley?

Zoe: That's a ridiculous question and we're not going to answer it.

Okay. Didn't you guys once do karaoke with Drake?

Zoe: That wasn't a band activity, but two members of the band were present for it.

What's his karaoke song of choice?

Zoe: I don't know, you can ask him when you interview him.

Great. This is going well. Finally, what are your favourite emojis please?

Zoe: I like the thumbs up emoji and the shocked face one.

James: I like the straight faced one. I don't know what it's called though.

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Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelCragg

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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