Zarina Nares isn’t an old soul.

Instead, she’s timeless—with a nostalgic aura and wisdom beyond her ages that keeps you endlessly engaged. We talked to the LA-based creative about her views on modern love, Patti Smith and the greatest muse—wine.

You come from an artistic family…do you think growing up in a creative environment inspired you to become a songwriter?

Well my dad is an artist and my mom is a creative director in the fashion industry…so my entire life I was watching two people always making something,  my dad especially. My mom was making things based off of what a client wanted which I’m sure was her vision as well, but It was kind of always for somebody else, where as my dad was always working on something new. He’s known for his paintings (and more recently for his films), but he would make mini sculptures, he would take photographs, he would make these little films, paintings, everything…and every time we’d go to his studio or see him it would be something new. He’s kind of an inventor in a sense because of how he paints or how he makes things. He builds all these weird machines and stuff. It’s not necessarily that they pushed me in the direction of music, but I was definitely encouraged to always be working on something and creating something. Music is just the world I always felt closest to and most inspired by, so I always knew I wanted to work in music and write songs.


Who are some of your favorite writers or poets?

Patti Smith is a big one because I think a lot of the famous poets that I studied in school were primarily men. Something I really like about Patti Smith is that she’s a poet, she’s a writer she’s a songwriter, she’s a performer…she’s great and everything, but she wrote in a way that was like, “okay so women can speak this way” which was really important for me. I’m not a tomboy at all, I’m very feminine, I’m very girly, but I’m not conservative when it comes to my sexuality and I feel like people tend to think it’s one or the other. Like you’re this badass chick or you’re this tomboy who hangs with the guys or you’re a girly girl and they don’t need to be mutually exclusive. But she was really important for me as an example of this woman who wrote like her punk male contemporaries…

…but she has a feminine way of writing too which has this nostalgia to it.

Yeah, yeah.

A lot of your influences are from another era…you seem like an old soul. In your songs ‘Playboy’ and ‘You’re Not Interested In Me’ you express frustration in getting to know a lover…do you find it difficult finding substantial relationships in this day and age?

Yeah, I mean…I do have a boyfriend who I’m happy with, but as an adult woman I’ve never existed in a world without technology and social media, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to. I do think the same sentiment exists with songs that were written ages ago…the same frustrations exist, they’re just existing in different worlds. I would love to know what having a relationship would be like without cell phones or Instagram or Facebook because I do feel that it’s a huge distraction.

Especially just the act of conversation—I don’t feel like I go places and people really have conversations or someone’s really interested in getting to know one another. Either they’ve stalked you on Instagram beforehand so they’ve already made up their mind based off of this curation of images you’ve chosen, OR they’ve never stalked you on Instagram, but they’re also not really interested in talking to you they’re just like “oh what’s your Instagram” and then they go home later that night and stalk. I think that frustrations with love and relationships will always exist, just in different ways.

So you model as well, do you feel like that informs your work as an artist or vice versa? Do you feel like any other forms of art influence you while your modeling or does modeling come into play when you’re onstage or anything like that?

I think becoming a model, which a lot of people don’t realize is pretty recent for me, has made me more confident as a person. It’s made me more confident when I’m onstage and it has given me a bit more confidence in myself as an artist. I think it also makes me feel good knowing that I’m a musician walking into a photo shoot…

Because you have more to offer …

I definitely think that the fashion world in general influences me because I think style is just so important as an artist, not that you have to be trendy, but having a  style that you feel you identify with is really important as an artist. It helps shape the person you are, the person you’re trying to be. I think also being a musician, you have to be aware of your imagery which I wasn’t at all until I started modeling. You have to think about album covers and press photos and concert posters and all the creative mediums connect in some sort-of way. I don’t know that I’ve ever walked into a gallery opening and seen some paintings and been like “whoa that really inspired me to write a song”, but I think just surrounding yourself with people and experiences that involve different artistic mediums is important in general. To see your peers creating things, to see your peers succeeding—I love being friends with people who are just really good at what they do. Not like “oh I just want to have successful friends”, it’s nothing like that, it’s just to know people who are at this genius-level of talent, you know, it’s so exciting to be around, and then it motivates me to want to be a better songwriter.

Yeah it’s contagious, it’s like if you’re around good energy where people are really making you open your eyes and feel something then that’s good and I think it’s the same thing for the opposite…if there’s a poisonous person around you. We’re all sensitive to people’s energies.

Also I think with Instagram, not to belittle modeling, but everyone’s kind of a model. Most musicians also model now, most models also do music, and everyone’s also an actor, you know. Generally, if you click on a musician’s Instagram it’s all photos of themselves taken by other people and that’s modeling. I grew up being photographed by my dad and my sister my entire life and I’m not gonna lie, I do like being photographed just because I’m very used to it. I really enjoy if a photographer has some sort of creative vision or a story in mind, it’s fun being a part of somebody else’s project and not having to be the one in control.

Yeah and it’s interesting how all of those things sort of go together. The ultimate thing for any artist I think is storytelling and making something feel real. It’s pretty cool how those can all intertwine and it’s good seeing things from different perspectives.

Yeah, and it’s like playing dress up for a living which is fun.

So let’s talk about your place a little bit…did anything influence you with the decoration?

I mean this was the first apartment of my own and I think anyone who moves out their parents house is like “this is mine! I get to do what ever I want!”. It’s so exciting so I was definitely like, “I’m gonna make this the opposite of any place I ever grew up”. I like fun pieces of furniture, I love color and I love prints. I have so many different fabrics just in my living room. As for the art, I’m very fortunate that I’m dating a painter so art is easy to come by and I’ve been gifted a lot of my dad’s pieces as well. I think the art in my house influences what furniture I choose, but I definitely just want every room to be fun. I’m still working on it and adding things! I like everything to be clean and tidy, I don’t like to have stuff everywhere, except for my back room—that’s my studio where I keep everything.

Is having that room essential to you as a musician? Because you have your bedroom and then the separate studio space…

Yeah, which is so funny because my bedroom is the polar opposite. If I was living on my own I don’t think it would be as necessary, but because I live with somebody else who has a studio of his own I needed a space of my own and I can record in there which is great. That room really feels like what my bedroom would look like if I were a teenager, which is nice because I get my adult bedroom and my kid bedroom.  I think it’s important to have a space that’s really your own.  I like to hang photos of people I really admire or look up to because it’s nice to have that motivation.

It reminds you. You’re like, “Oh okay…”

They did it. Yeah, I don’t know, designing a room is a lot harder than I ever imagined. I have so much more respect for interior designers. It’s really hard to pick stuff that goes well together.

Do you feel like you’re more creative in the daytime or nighttime?

I think I’m more creative in the nighttime, but I wish so badly that I was more creative in the daytime. I’ll try all day to work on a song and it’s just not working, it’s not working, it’s not working—sun goes down, I have dinner, I smoke a cigarette, I’ve got some wine in me, and then suddenly I have all these ideas and I’m like, “Ugh I have to be up so early the next day”. 

What is your process for writing music?

It depends…it’s been different every time to be honest. There’s times where I start with a melody that I really like. I’ll be singing in the shower and I’m like, “oh I really like that” and I run out grab my phone and record it on voice memos as fast as possible. I rarely sit down and say, “okay I’m gonna write a song now”. I wish I could work that way, but that just ends up with me sitting for hours, getting really frustrated. It’s generally that something comes into my head and then I’ll sit down and work on it.

So tell us about what’s going on with you right now and what’s next.

I’m going to be working with Manimal Vinyl which is an L.A. based independent label. They started in Hancock Park which is where I first lived when I moved to L.A., so it’s kind of nice. I’ll be releasing some new music with them this year that I wrote last year…and a bunch of shows hopefully. My New Year’s resolution is to do a small tour this year.

Interview and photos by Jenna Putnam

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