Zsela is letting go and leaning into uncertainty with her debut album ‘Big For You’

Zsela’s debut album ‘Big For You’ is transformational both in theme and in process

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Zsela leans into the ebb and flow of uncertainty and invites listeners to do the same throughout her debut album “Big For You.”

The album, written over four years, follows Zsela’s 2020 EP “Ache of Victory,” which she describes as “an imprint of time.”

“I'm connected to it since it'll always be a part of my story, but I'm excited to tell new ones with this album," said Zsela. “I was working a lot on myself and on this music. It took time. And I feel really fortunate that I got this time to get the songs to where I wanted them to be, and I feel really excited about where they landed,” she said.

For Zsela, working on “Big For You” was a test of trusting her instincts and pushing beyond her comfort zone both sonically and vocally.

“I got really into experimenting with my voice in ways that would dictate my writing. I had this character that I sang with that came from a day that I just wasn’t feeling my voice. So, I was like, let me try something different. Like really different,” says Zsela about a character within the album. When asked where the character appears, she simply says, “I think it’s more fun to leave that for the listener to find.”

Zsela has a rich, alluring voice. Her warm tone intertwines with upbeat, dreamscape melodies and instrumentals, especially heard on tracks like “Fire Excape" and “Not Your Angel.”

“I feel like I established a confidence in just the practice itself of experimenting and not being so precious and opening up to people and ideas and really trying to practice listening to myself and where I want to go and outside of, like the noise of the world,” she says.

But while embarking on the metamorphosis, Zsela says she had a strong desire to pursue “lightness, fun and levity” throughout the process.

“I really tried to bring that into the room every time I was with myself and working on, like, figuring out what I wanted to say,” she said. “It’s just about like opening up and letting go and experimenting."

“Big For You" was a chance to see how far she could go, cementing her creative confidence and creating an enchanting and energetic album full of musical tension and release.

“My friend described it as a sweaty album, like, it feels like you’re tense and hot,” she says.

“Big For You” translates to ‘I love you' for Zsela, and the album is about love and all of its complexities.

“The big is the space that we fill up and take inside of love. Like being ‘full for you’ and ‘full of you’ and this complexity in the magnitude of that space we take and we fill up,” said the artist.

The Brooklyn-native is taking listeners on an adventure beginning with the fantasy-filled “Lily of the Nile” and landing with “Play,” a song that she says “ends with this question of love.”

“It kind of has been this way of leaving it (the album) open-ended and hopefully making you want to start it again to see what the answer is or if there is one.”

She has once again teamed up with longtime Frank Ocean and FKA Twigs-collaborator Daniel Aged to produce, alongside Gabe Wax.

“I’ve kept my world of collaborators pretty intimate. And it’s not to say that I like don’t want to invite more, but I think that intimacy has really like built a lot of trust and that has really been important to creating it and being able to experiment and find your way back home.”

Zsela has played numerous shows with artists like Caroline Polacheck and Arooj Aftab. But this summer she will embark on her first headlining tour and looks forward to meeting listeners who resonate with her artistry.

“I am excited to see who is in those rooms,” she said. “I’m excited to play these songs live. The whole time in making this album, I’ve just been thinking about playing them live.”

“Big For You” is set for release Friday. Zsela hopes listeners will soak in the melodies, lyrics and arrangements while driving with the top down.