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Zoya Aims for Pop Stardom on New Album ‘Bad Girls Dream’

The Los Angeles-based singer enlists Lady Gaga’s producer Mark Nilan Jr. and worked with different songwriters for the nine-track record

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Anurag Tagat May 15, 2020

Zoya on the cover of her new album 'Bad Girls Dream.' Photo: Sinead Fleming

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It’s only 21 minutes, but Zoya packs in everything you want from a solid pop record on her new full-length album Bad Girls Dream. Weaving in fairytale-gone-dark narratives and experiences in complicated love, the Indo-American singer is gunning for pop glory with what is her third album.

She’s traversed singer-songwriter, folk and electronic territory with her 2015 album The Girl Who Used To Live In My Room (2015) and Natural Disaster (2016) but when Zoya moved back to the U.S. in April 2018, it was time to change things up again. The result is Bad Girls Dream, nine tracks that see Zoya sharing writing credits and almost completely offer the production reigns to names like Mark Nilan Jr. (Lady Gaga), Chuck Inglish (Chance the Rapper), American duo SMLE, Boston-bred Johan Lenox and Los Angeles-based Dreux. Zoya says the album has so far “been received better than anything I’ve released to date.”

While three of the songs produced by Nilan Jr. and Inglish – “Bad Girls Dream,” (with a guest verse from rapper Jack Harlow) “Worth It” and “Here” – were out in 2019 as the first phase of launching Zoya’s new pop direction, the singer says she had the freedom to work with a host of producers. It wasn’t smooth sailing even then, however. “It was a struggle at first because opinions were coming at me like wildfire. After a while, though I caught wind of a newfound confidence that I had completely lost for a while.” Fully in charge and calling the shots, songs such as the dancefloor-ready sub-bass employing “Champagne On A Monday,” the openhearted guitar-aided electronic banger “My Last Prayer,” the wonky chill hip-hop-informed “Two Ways” and the minimal electronic pop of “Beautiful Lie” made it to the album. The end-goal remained to have a cohesive collection of songs that enticed the same way her first three singles did.

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Listen to “Bad Girls Dream” ft Jack Harlow below. 

As someone who’s often reinvented herself, she says it’s never easy no matter how many times you create new imagery and aesthetics. “At times I had to compromise for the greater good of ‘cohesive.’ Yet, there were times that those compromises gave a more connected and impactful message and body of work,” Zoya adds. Part of her current project is the launch of a lifestyle brand and social platform called This Is Life. Teaming up with Kolkata’s ethical and zero-waste fashion/design studio Lata Sita, a new collection of fabrics is in the works for “the millennial female,” plus a social platform that “provides a space for women of color to converse about socio-economics, environmentalism, fashion, race, culture, and their own personal challenges on their journey to become a successful artist or entrepreneur.”

She’s also been chatting over Instagram with fellow artists for her Dream Series, including singer-actor and poet Monica Dogra, multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale, singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad, singer-producer Sid Sriram and more. She says, “Each of these people have been a part of my journey at completely different moments and even in completely different countries.” Simultaneously, there’s work on for releasing music videos and live videos. She adds that this album will still be her focus for a few months ahead. “I’m hoping in time when the world heads into a new-normal we can start touring,” she adds.

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Stream ‘Bad Girls Dream’ below and on more platforms here.

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