Born into a musically inclined family, Nicole Zell, grew up singing, song writing, and playing multiple instruments from an early age. A seasoned and established solo artist, Nicole has over a decade of experience from being the former guitarist for alternative rock band, American Wolves, and to taking on the mantle of lead singer for alternative pop band, THRILLCHASER. In the second interview celebrating the LadyBug Festival, Women Crush Music speaks to Nicole about her inclusion in the 2020 line-up of the festival, her female inspirations, her opinion on the trend of livestreams and much more.
1. Tell me about your music and your journey so far!
First off, thank you so much to Women Crush for taking the time to do this! I am a big fan of what your organization does for women in the music industry! In response to your question, my relationship with music has existed for as long as I can remember thanks to growing up in a musical family. My dad and his sisters played in rock'n'roll bands since the seventies, which meant there was often some form of music or band practice happening in my home. I started singing when I could speak, playing instruments a little after that, song writing when I was old enough to string somewhat cohesive sentences together, and performing live as a young teen. I graduated high school one year early at seventeen so I could pursue music full-time and I've been doing so ever since. Since then, I've had the opportunity to work as a solo artist, former guitarist/vocalist for alt rock band, American Wolves, and lead singer of pop band, THRILLCHASER. Additionally, I've had the privilege of hosting a local music radio show, SoundStage on WCHE 1520, since 2013 and a podcast cantered on the arts, Follow Your Art, with fellow female singer/songwriter, Alexandra March. (Fun fact that I never get tired of sharing, but everyone is probably tired of hearing: if it weren't for The Ladybug Festival put on by Gable Music Ventures, I never would have joined THRILLCHASER and met Alexandra March.)
2. What was your reaction when you were added to this year’s line-up at the Ladybug Festival? What can you tell us about this year’s festival particularly as it’s been moved online?
I was honestly SO shocked and humbled! Gable Music Ventures is like family to me and I've played The Ladybug Festival a few times over the years in person in Wilmington, DE, but I knew it was going to be bigger than ever this year so I wasn't expecting to be part of it at all! I'm just really grateful and honored to be included in an event that empowers female acts - not to mention being on the same bill with some of my idols who inspired me to be the artist I am today. It's pretty surreal. The pandemic has affected the music industry in so many negative ways, but Gable Music Ventures chose to not back down in the face of extreme, unprecedented adversity and they found a way to not only adapt, but make it better than it possibly could have been! Moving the festival online allowed for so many different opportunities and opened so many doors.
3. What are your thoughts in general about the trend of livestream concerts and festivals? Do you think this trend is here to stay as a part of the music industry?
Speaking in a totally selfish sense, my introverted self has been LOVING livestream concerts. Plus, you can connect with audience members from all around the world. It's brought a lot of people together which has been beautiful to see. I hope it can continue in some form, while also not taking away from the venues and industry workers that are trying to survive this. It's a very complicated predicament unlike anything we have ever seen.
4. As a woman in the industry, what are some challenges you’ve faced particularly when it comes to playing festivals that Ladybug has helped break down through their efforts?
Wow, I love that question. I mean, most festivals are disproportionately packed with not only male acts, but male workers which is why historically, Ladybug boasts an all-female lineup and also specifically hires female employees, live sound engineers, and more. Honestly, just being seen, heard, supported, and championed is something all female artists deserve and rarely get. I was lucky to essentially grow up within the Gable Music Ventures community which provided a rare resource and platform. A company like Gable and an event like Ladybug values your worth and celebrates you as a female artist - and that is priceless. I wish every community had that.
5. What’s one message or piece of advice you’d give other women who are trying to find a place in the music industry?
Okay, this subject is literally one of the main reasons Alexandra March and I even started our podcast, Follow Your Art, in the first place so I love discussing this. When you grow up in a time in history where the industry's landscape is perpetually changing, it can be very challenging and almost impossible to know where your place is. I grew up idolizing and studying young female artists of the 2000s. Because of that, I always had an unrealistic, ignorant notion that if you didn't get signed before you were 18, that was the end of your career. Those days are long gone. There has never been one correct formula to a successful career in the music industry and I think you have to ask the question: what even is "success"? You have to define what that is for YOU. Is success working a part-time or full-time job so you can write songs and perform during your spare time? Is success making music your full-time job? Is success pursuing music on a global scale or on a local level? Is success about fame and wealth? Is success purely about being an artist in whatever capacity you can? There are so many more options and pathways in this day and age than ever before. Figure out which path you want to take and then pursue that. The answer is within you. Also, a closing reminder: as a woman in the music industry, know your worth, speak up for yourself and your fellow women, stand your ground, and most importantly, always follow your feminine intuition.
6. Who are your personal inspirations?
In the spirit of women, I'm going to only list some of my female inspirations: Stevie Nicks, Heart, Mariah Carey, Allee Willis, Vanessa Carlton, Gwen Stefani, and Michelle Branch. I could go on forever, there are SO many! Also, if I may take the liberty, I'd like to share some of my favorite local female inspirations: Alexandra March, Angela Sheik, Joy Ike, Hoochi Coochi, and Nalani & Sarina
7. What are your future goals?
The pandemic really gave me a chance to slow down and do some introspective work. I'm really just focused on living more simply, connecting deeper with nature, making art, and having a positive impact however possible. I just want to let the current of life and the force of creativity take me where I can best be used as a human and creative.
Ladybug Festival 2020 was supported by Girls Behind the Rock Show, Guitar Girl Magazine, Interiorstate, and Soundgirls. Follow the festival’s Instagram for highlights and more.
Find out more about Nicole here.
Written by Malvika Padin :
Malvika Padin is an Indian-origin freelance journalist, editor and publicist based in the UK. An NCTJ-qualified journalist with over 450 by-lines, you can get in touch with Malvika on email@example.com if you’re looking for PR plugs or write-ups
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