Plenty of people come to Los Angeles looking to make their California dreams a reality. But zzzahara has always been here, turning reality into a dream. Born and raised in Highland Park, where they still reside, zzzahara (the solo moniker of Eyedress/Simps guitarist Zahara Jaime) has witnessed both gang-blighted and gentrified L.A. along the same geographical blocks. Like the transforming city itself, zzzahara has undergone massive personal changes, their characteristic stoicism giving way to a newfound sense of purpose. Liminal Spaces, their debut LP from Lex Records, explores a life hanging in the balance between memory and possibility over frenetic Johnny Marr-esque guitar jangle. Music has always been an escape for zzzahara, who struggled to feel seen as the sibling of a terminally ill brother. Z found solace in bands like My Chemical Romance, the Cure, the Ramones, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and in recording “corny acoustic parodies” about girls they had crushes on in middle school. That same absurdist humor followed them into early projects like bombastic hip-hop persona Lil Boba and post-punk quartet Zahara & the Herd, though as a queer person of color, zzzahara still felt out of place in SoCal’s bro-ish garage rock scene. But over time, zzzahara’s inner circle crystalized around talented, prolific friends. They became touring guitarist for Eyedress after meeting Idris Vicuña in 2018. That partnership spawned collaborative duo The Simps, whose first single “On Fye” has already racked up more than five million streams. Stones Throw engineer Collin Davis helped zzzahara expand their production techniques, and the pair recently formed electronic post-punk project U.S. Velvet, releasing their first single in October 2021. All the while, zzzahara demoed songs like others might keep a diary. Some, like “Sugar Gay” and “Xxxstasy,” became stand-alone singles, while others were collected for Simp.Wav, the four-song debut EP zzzahara released in 2020. Signing to Lex Records, zzzahara bumped up production values for Liminal Spaces, enlisting industry vets Dave Cooley for mastering and Steve Kaye for mixing. Some of the songs have been with Z for a while, like “Julia,” written when zzzahara was just sixteen about their experiences with manipulative girlfriends. Others are inspired by queer culture, absurdism, love, lust, and feeling lost. Evolving stylistically, maturing emotionally, and yet still attached to a past scorched by trauma and old flames, zzzahara brings pop sensibility and hi-fi quality to Liminal Spaces that makes their work appealing to anyone and everyone: young and old; straight and queer; introverts and extroverts; the hardened L.A. locals and the daydreaming transplants.
Canopy Joc is a band from Atlanta. Their songs draw from the slower end of post-punk, wobbly Lee Perry productions, waterlogged techno, “trip-hop”, and turn-of-the-millenium rap producers like Organized Noize and the Hitmen. Their first album, Storm the Gates of Heaven, was released in 2021.