By Billy Ludt
Up-and-coming singer/songwriter Zella Day performed on Aug. 27 at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts in downtown Youngstown through a Penguin Productions coordinated event.
The 20-year-old indie-pop artist and her bandmates hunkered down in the upstairs portion of Suzie’s after driving all day from Toronto, Ontario. The night before, Day performed at Lee’s Palace, a staple venue in Toronto.
“You really have to just muster up the energy and really get into the mentality of giving, because that’s what music is about,” Day said.
Fans of Day yelled, “Zella, I love you,” from across the street from an upper floor of the Erie Terminal building as she walked outside for an interview in the Suzie’s parking lot.
Day was on the last leg of her tour, performing the next night at the Grog Shop in Cleveland and finishing out the night after the next in Detroit.
“For me, music is very selfless,” Day said. “And no matter what kind of day I’ve had, or how long I’ve been in the van for, when I get on stage and there’s people coming to the show, that’s the first time they’ve seen me.”
Day and her bandmates took the stage at 9 p.m. and performed for a packed-in crowd that Thursday night. Suzie’s opened up their garage door style windows, and patrons gathered on the street as well to listen to the performance.
Day is no stranger to performing at university affiliated events, playing university dates in her latest tour in upstate New York.
“They want a good show,” Day said. “They don’t care what I’ve been doing earlier that day or what I had to eat for lunch.”
Day has performed at Firefly Music Festival, Lollapalooza and recently played her single “High” on Conan.
Day’s latest release, “Kicker,” came out this past June on Pinetop and Hollywood Records. While making the record, Day said she listened heavily to 60s and 70s rock — the Rolling Stones and The Zombies — and Jeff Buckley.
“Which is funny, cause I don’t think you hear that a lot on the record,” Day said. “But when you see a live show, that comes across.”
Born and raised in Arizona, Day has played music since she was nine-years-old. Her music stylistically and lyrically is the result of what, she says, enters her psyche. An example of that is her song, “The Outlaw Josey Wales.”
Any time she spent time in her grandparents’ home, Day said they always had Clint Eastwood movies on.
“I just remembered it,” Day said. “It was probably at a very impressionable time in my life, and ‘Outlaw Josey Wales’ was just something that stuck. I liked his name. I liked everything about him.”
After their date in Detroit, Day and her bandmates will go home for eight days and then hit the road again to tour some more. But Day said she was feeling the effects of being on the road, recovering from a virus and lack of sleep.
“Being on stage is such a high that I’ll never experience anywhere else,” Day said. “It’s like receiving that kind of energy from the audience and feeding off of it and playing my music, and being in that space is unlike anything. But then, when you’re in a van for 12 hours and then staying in Holiday Inns, it’s quite the low.”
Day said that despite exhaustion and feeling under the weather, she has to muster the energy to get on stage every night.
“I work really hard for it,” Day said. “I’m never content with the last song that I wrote. I’m always trying to get better and I’m going to write more records, and I guess with that comes opportunity.”