With the release of his second full-length album, Laps around the Sun, Australian singer-songwriter Ziggy Alberts is making a journey around North America to share his deeply personal music. After his set at the Treehouse Stage of Firefly Music Festival, Ziggy sat down with Odyssey to discuss the meaning behind his writing and why he continues to be a voice of hope for all who listen.
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Odyssey: So your set at Firefly has basically been the start of the North American tour. What do you have in store for fans and what can they expect from it?
Ziggy Alberts: I think for North America, I'm trying to make a good balance between Laps around the Sun and the old stuff. It's my second time back here, but my first full run regionally. My first run was like 10 shows – this one is more extensive in two parts [in the United States and Canada]. The set list has a really good flow of soft songs, of emotive, of upbeat, of happy…a full range of emotions. You can expect to just feel it all. It's going to be an emotional roller coaster.
O: How would you say that your new stuff is more emotional than the older stuff that you had started out with when you were first in North America?
ZA: I'd say that there is more subliminal messaging in the new stuff. There's some undercurrents that people might not pick up on, some stuff that is very personal, but that's the beautiful thing about making music – you can write out so many different degrees of personal experience and people can interpret it how they want. I wouldn't say necessarily that they're more emotive, I would just say that they're hopefully a little more clever or a little more mature in the way that they've been put together, so people connect with them all.
O: Right. And it's a whole journey of finding your artistic voice – coming into yourself and learning how to become vulnerable in front of people.
ZA: And this very much a singer-songwriter album, whereas the last album was more folk.
O: Right! Like, more happy-go-lucky stuff.
ZA: Yes – I was a "coastal folk" songwriter. I wasn't a singer-songwriter. I didn't want to just stay within folk – I wanted to stretch myself a bit into pop, country, and borderline rap stuff to truly step into my maturity as a singer-songwriter.
O: What brought out that change in you?
ZA: As you grow in your career, you don't necessarily need to limit yourself to [one thing] because it doesn't benefit you, the music, the writing, or the fans. So, I think what brought about this change was a coming of age. I don't think it was benefiting me or anybody else to stay within just one genre. I run my own independent record label [Commonfolk Records] with my family management team. No one's telling me how I have to creatively conduct myself. So why not just explore?
O: Right. It's very much your specific artistic voice, which is something I really admire.
ZA: And I think even in the coming year, people are going to see even more change – hopefully in a positive way. People are going to see some new stretches that you might not pick for me, you know? But I'm excited about that because I think within reason it's nice to challenge your fans. I just want to give [music] as my most honest form. If you're being honest to yourself, you will resonate with other people.
O: I'm really proud of you for being able to do that.
ZA: Thank you. It's a scary thing. But when you see how well that resonates with people, when everybody else is also craving to do the same thing and then you start doing it all together, then it's pretty cool if we're all improving our experiences and opening up in ways that make life better. That's a nice thing to experience with people when you're on stage. You open up and, in return, they also open up. It's a great back and forth of trust and expression.
O: Do you have a specific song that like means the most to you that you're the most vulnerable on from Laps Around the Sun?
ZA: Probably the most vulnerable is "3 Degrees South." It's a piano song. I think that song was the hardest to write…it's talking about hitting rock bottom. I don't like singing songs in that kind of form because I don't like leaving songs without hope. I don't like really dark songs that don't go anywhere with no resolution. There has to be light at the end of the tunnel. I think that song, if you really dive into lyrics break down each moment, it's a vulnerable song and people feel those ways, so it's important to speak about it. It's a beautiful thing to have that sort of song on stage because it means no matter how bad a day you've had, you can sink into that song, express yourself, wipe your hands clean, and play a banging show. It's actually a relief to have that song to play. I love emotive, sad songs, but I just feel like a lot of my role [as an artist] is about the hopefulness in songwriting.
O: I love that! Music is the best thing to look to when you're feeling down, so you can be that voice for the people who need someone to look up to.
ZA: Oh, we all do! Like, you have those songs, I have all the songs I listened to for inspiration. It's nice to contribute to that wonderful sonic pool, because we all draw from it.
O: I admire that so much. Thank you so much for being who you are. You know as well as I do how great of an impact music can have on people, so the fact that you can be like that voice of hope but also be real at the same time is something I really value.
ZA: Thank you so much. Everyone has a different approach to music, but my music is so personal to me that I don't have any reason not to conduct myself in the most honest way I can. There's no façade. I think what I've gotten in return from that is most people meet me on that level, it's not like there's a wall between us.