Just as the sun-dappled, craggy terrain of Laurel Canyon birthed the sounds of psychedelic rock, the 4 pm sunsets and ice-glazed pavement of New York winters is giving rise to an au courant, localized sonic sensibility: noir gaze. “We’ve been called dark wave and noir gaze,” explains multi-instrumentalist Jennifer P. Fraser of Brooklyn dream-rock act ZAZA, “It’s a little peppered with goth, co-authored by sentimentalism from the 80’s and early 90’s. I think it has to do with the landscape of New York, frankly. I think the pavement and the gloom, extreme seasons and angular nature of New York informs what’s going on in music right now.” Comprised of Fraser and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Danny Taylor, ZAZA creates spaciously orchestral, oneiric fuzzscapes that recall the the bite and scratch sensuality of 90s acts like Spiritualized, My Bloody Valentine, and Slowdive. Rooted in Taylor and Fraser’s love affair — which quickly spun its way into musical collabo territory — ZAZA’s music is intimate, vertiginous, primal, and bewitching. Just like love.
Fraser and Taylor are both West-coast natives who met by chance at an out-of-the-way concert in Brooklyn, each brought there by the intuitive sense that they would meet someone important that night. Californian Fraser had been on tour for four years with traveling neo-psych collective The Warlocks, and was on hiatus in New York visiting friends. Taylor, an instrument restorer by day and Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist-about-town by night, had worked with the likes of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Kordan. Soon after this momentous first encounter, Fraser moved to New York, and the two found themselves spending a particularly hard biting winter confined to Taylor’s Brooklyn loft. There, prodded along by the stray instruments that were always lying around, the duo began creating Philip Glass-informed orchestral soundscapes and collaging random looped sounds. ZAZA, in its first, raw iteration was born. Now, with live percussionist Dru Prentiss added into the mix, and a further-evolved sound which melds the orchestral with pavement pounding percussion, spectral vocals, and somber washes of drone, ZAZA is looking forward to releasing their first LP later this year. OAKAZINE caught up with Jennifer and Danny and spoke a bit about noir gaze, processes, and fate. To download ZAZA’s newest MP3 “Distance Creator” visit www.zazasound.com. Interview and more pictures after the jump. — Text by Marlo Kronberg. Produced by Peter Berwind Humphrey. Photos by Therese and Joel.