You might know her as Angie Miller, runner up on American Idol Season 12, but now she is known as Zealyn. Zealyn is a more open, free, true to herself musician. Zealyn encapsulates many attributes, whether it’s her flawless vocals and beautiful melodic songwriting or her personality and ability to connect with her fanbase. If there’s anything we know about Zealyn, it’s that she’s “So Damn Charming,” which is the title of her recent single. ECHO had the chance to chat with Zealyn at her last show on her A Weekend in Maine Tour in Los Angeles.
How are you doing?
I’m doing well, it’s the last show on tour, hometown show so all my friends are here, so I’m good.
You released “So Damn Charming” recently, talk to me about the creative process and the message behind the song.
The creative process was really fun actually. My producer David Buris and writer Kiah Victoria, such a fun time to work with them. Right when we started writing it came to life. I kind of knew that I wanted this song to talk about the ups and downs of things your passionate about. You can love something and be so passionate about something that it also brings you so much pain. That’s kind of what the music industry is like for me, I love it and it brings me so much joy but I also hate it and sometimes frustrating. The song is the back and forth of how something can look so perfect and great because of social media, but it’s not, it’s hard-work.
Being from the East Coast and Massachusetts, does that part of the country inspire your music still?
Yes in a way. I love where I’m at now, I love LA, it’s home, it’s so great. I think looking at my time in Massachusetts growing up, I just realized how much I learned from that, I don’t necessarily miss it, I’m not a very super nostalgic person. I just look at how many incredible life lessons I learned growing up on the East Coast.
Your EP is titled “A Weekend in Maine,” what about Maine inspired you to title it that?
Every year, maybe even twice a year, my family would take a trip to Maine and it was special. It was kind of one of those times I was talking about where there were so many lessons learned. That was before cellphones, before social media and all that stuff. My brother and I would just play in the woods for hours, there was no concept of impressing people or social media. I look at those times and realize how simple and beautiful those times were and seeing how my family loved each other, seeing the nature. There was a lot of really special things. That shaped me into who I am today, so I thought that this whole EP was a good way to focus on where I’m at now.
You changed your artist name from Angie Miller to Zealyn. Why did you decided to change your artist name and how did you come up with Zealyn?
Angie is not a cool name on a poster, I knew I needed to rebrand and have something that had more mystery behind it, appealing to the eye, plus I knew my sound was going to change and I wanted to set myself apart from American Idol, so that decision was easy. Finding a name was hard and Zealyn was a name that I fell in love with right when I heard it, there’s no crazy meaning.
Was there a time that made you think Zealyn was the perfect name? How did you come up with the name Zealyn?
I was looking everywhere for names, I was looking at flower names, street names. I was looking in enclyopedias, googling random stuff, poems, I was looking at. Eventually I looked at countries, there was New Zealand, I was like “Oh Zealand,” but it’s a country and I don’t want to be called a country and then somebody recommended me to make it a girls name and do it in Hawaiian so that’s how I came up with Zealyn. It was something that right when I said it
How would you described Zealyn now?
It’s FREE, I don’t know how else to describe it. I think if people see a live show they get it. I embody this music so much, like it is me. There’s so much joy and pain, there’s so much in my music. I feel confident and free when I make my songs. So, I hope when people listen they feel a sense of freedom.
How was tour and do you have a favorite memory?
I’m definitely one of those artists that don’t want to live in the studio, I don’t want to write songs all day, I want to be on the road all the time. I want to be playing shows and being out there, meeting fans. It has been awesome. Favorite memories are with the band, I love these guys, they are great friends, great musicians and meeting the fans is something special.
How have the fans stuck with you? Have they been with you since day 1?
Very well, yes. It’s kind of 50/50. Half I haven’t heard from in a while and the other half comes to every show and are so supportive and honestly have become friends.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
There’s so many. I would love to collaborate with The 1975, with MØ, with Wesley, the list goes on and on. Khalid, The Killers.
If you were to put a fan in a setting to listen to your music, what would be that setting?
In the middle of nowhere by a lake in a forest with a hammock by the lake and look at the scenery.
Why is it important to be authentic?
I mean what’s the point of doing music and having a fanbase if you’re not being authentic. The music industry is exhausting enough as is, I can’t imagine how exhausting it would be trying to be something you’re not. There’s something so beautiful about being honest.
What is one inspiring quote that you’ve heard in life that you want to ECHO out to your fans?
Something I’ve learned is whoever you surround yourself with is who you become, I’ve seen that in my life. I love my friends, they make me so happy, put effort into who you chose to spend time with.