Billie Zizi
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Billie Zizi

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Alternative Folk




"Album review Billie Zizi, Gun Metal Dress(Independant)"

There's a certain amount of misdirection in the blues-jazz title track of Billie Zizi's debut album in that it doesn't quite prepare you for the wooziness to come. Sure, there's plenty of Gypsy violin(courtesy of Zizi's pops, Cam Neufeld) scattered throughout, snaking through Windog Blues, bringing an irresistible jauntiness to Dancing Shoes, but Zizi's heart is apparent when she slows everything down to mournful. Like the looping backwards guitar melting into the sparsest of intros on You Do Me No Good, with Zizi abandoning almost all lyrical drive by simply repeating in an oddly matter-of-fact voice “drag me down” over and over again on the chorus, or the long, slow build in Jukebox Baby, leading to chaotic squalls of Zizi's guitar. A fine first album, laying down ground work for what will no doubt be one of the country's most inventive voices for years to come. - Written by Tom Murray, published in Penguin Eggs.


Release Date: February 7th, 2015
Label: Independent

The opening track (and title track) to Billie Zizi’s ‘Gun Metal Dress’ is a rock solid blues/folk tune, which is strongly evocative of Ricky Lee Jones. Although highlighted by the excellent fiddling of veteran Cam Neufeld (who happens to be Zizi’s father), the music is very much centred on Zizi’s sweet but strong vocals and her stellar blues guitar playing. But that is just the beginning…

Zizi has a varied musical background (can you believe she was once in a thrash metal band?) and has travelled the world, including stops in West Africa, Asia and Europe. She puts all of this to good use here as she pushes the envelope and explores new musical terrain. “The Other Room”, for example, sports a stutter rhythm and a vaguely Eastern vibe to the melody. Zizi also brings in elements of R&B, like a female Bill Withers. On the other hand, she takes a more jazzy approach to her innovative vocalizing on “The Sky in the City”.

Another high point is “Windog Blues” with Neufeld setting the stage with the bittersweet screech of his violin. From there Zizi takes over in a fairly traditional blues number that feature some exquisitely restrained guitar distortion. Arguably the album’s standout is “You Do Me No Good” on which her guitar playing is at its most gorgeous. The vocals here are particularly striking as her voice occasionally cracks under the emotional strain. When she repeatedly moans “… you drag me down…” you can literally feel yourself being pulled into the maw of an unhealthy but irresistible relationship.

Although ‘Gun Metal Dress’ is her debut full-length, Zizi has been around the music business for years, so it should come as no surprise that she displays such poise here. At a minimum that we can look forward to more cleverly arranged and crisply produced blues/jazz/folk as her career unfolds. However, if she continues the innovation that is in evidence throughout her debut then we can expect something even better – an idiosyncratic sound all of her own. - Ride the Tempo, Mark Anthony Brennan

"Billie Zizi’s new path and new album, Gun Metal Dress"

Billie Zizi could have been a baller. Before becoming the diverse musician she is today, Zizi was on four competitive-level soccer teams, with hopes of training professionally. She saw her future on the field since the age of 10.

Things were going smoothly when she was 17 and at the start of her athletic prime, but fate threw her a head butt and she tore her anterior cruciate ligament.

Zizi then spent some time on herself to try to deal with this adversity. She finished high school, started playing guitar more (she began at age seven), travelled the world and did some volunteering. Only after she finally cooled her heels did she realize her sporting days were behind her. This gave Zizi, as she puts it, an existential crisis.

“I thought I might want to do international development (for soccer),” Zizi says. “I didn’t know what to do with myself. Then my dad said, ‘I got us a gig.'”

Her dad, local fiddle hero Cam Neufeld, thought it prudent for his daughter to get some real-life musical experience playing a set or two of gypsy jazz. Problem was, she didn’t know any of the songs.

“I just remember sweating so much,” she recalls. “I was so nervous and tense. But I somehow magically survived. After that, I was hooked. It was a big turning point where I started studying music and playing more.”

Zizi, whose album Gun Metal Dress will be released on February 6, understands there are direct comparisons between being a professional musician and high-calibre footie player. In her eyes, there is a strong connectivity with the field and the stage.

“It’s all about performance,” Zizi says. “When you are on the field you are performing. You might be nervous or tired but you can’t let your opposition know that. It’s adrenaline too, as well as a skill you can work on.”

She is in tune with her audience. She feeds off of them and those along side of her on stage.

“I took the sports mentality,” she explains. “When you are in a band you are on a team. You have a common purpose and you support your teammates.”

It is not all about the physical world with Zizi as the ethereal bleeds through into her music. A reactive writer, Zizi takes her inspiration in as if in symbiosis with her natural surroundings. From the sky to relationships, from poetry to sibilance, her lyrical melodies are both personal and relatable.

Gun Metal Dress, written over three years from 2010 to 2013, shows a maturing growth from Zizi. Trying to describe it properly would like taking a musical dictionary, putting it in a blender and then shooting it with a shotgun—in a good way. From pop to timely traditional folk, Zizi’s work embraces all and tries to make sense of it.

“It is hard,” she says. “You know, when you are playing a festival and you want to describe your music, to categorize it, it is difficult to say. So basically what I’ve settled on is jazz-influenced folk with dirty guitar.”

But it is more than that.

Making use of her pop sensibilities, the strength of her musical background and, in some of her strongest tracks, (“Sky In The City,” “I Love You”), layered woven loops, Zizi’s sound has a sense of depth when complimented by her vocal style. From Zizi’s perspective, using looping as a tool is something not to be taken lightly.

“Looping is unwieldy,” Zizi says. “It can really go south on you. I’ve been lost in a terrifying loopland before.

“All my songs have a bit of a through line,” she adds. “They are like cousins as opposed to siblings.”

Fri, Feb 6 (8 pm)
With Bramwell Park
Artery, $12 advance, $15 at the door - Edmonton Journal, Trent Wilkie


Gun Metal Dress- Independent - 2015



BioThe reviews of Billie Zizi's debut album "Gun Metal Dress" agree that it is a sign of things to come. "Penguin Eggs" calls it "a fine first album laying down the ground work for what will no doubt be one of the country's most inventive voices for years to come and Turkish critic, Hande Eagle predicts it "will one day be looked back on a the starting point of a most incredible career." Billie Zizi has laid the foundations for a satisfying future and with her solid contributions to several side projects (The Gadjo Collective, The Black Wonders, Gypsy Jive) she already has a satisfying career behind and all around her.

Billie grew up in a family of artists, casually playing music but was gunning for a professional soccer career until  injury forced her to reevaluate her life's ambition. After traveling to West Africa, Asia, India,Europe and the Balkans, she started gigging, enrolled in MacEwan University's jazz guitar program and began developing her own sound-one that is lovingly rooted in traditional forms and yet unmistakeably contemporary. Billie calls it "jazz-influenced folk with dirty guitar" and it's full-bodied lushness and lyrical directness hits the mark.
Having begun 2015 with the successful release of "Gun Metal Dress," Billie continues to gain momentum. After a spring and summer of touring and festivals, Billie will return to the studio to record her next album and her growing number of fans can't wait.

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