Zahna is gearing up for a busy 2021, so what better way to close out 2020 than with a very loud reminder that she is very much a force in the hard rock and metal genre? Contributors Matt Durlin and Jessica Walker bring you an exclusive look at all things Zahna.
The Review: High Quality Cover of Taylor Swift
By Jessica Walker, Contributor
“Look What You Made Me Do” is a Taylor Swift song originally released in August 2017, the first single off her Reputation album. The song has quite a bit of attitude and edge, and is different musically from previous Taylor Swift singles; it is darker, with an electro-pop feel. I thought it was extremely unique and well done, and I hold high expectations for anyone attempting to cover it!
It might seem unexpected that Zahna would choose to cover Taylor Swift. At the same time, “Look What You Made Me Do” meshes so well with the message that is conveyed within some of Zahna’s original songs on her Red for War album, it shouldn’t be too surprising that this specific T. Swift song is right up her alley.
The Zahna cover is very guitar-driven, with fascinating riffs and catchy rhythms that showcase Steve Ozbun’s talent for arranging and playing. Patrick Madsen’s drumming is also another element added to the song that musically makes it much different from the original, giving it a more full and driving sound. Vocally, Zahna definitely brings more edge right from the beginning, even in her enunciation. The song is a balance between singing and screaming, and Zahna often alternates between the two or layers both. While listening, I was constantly intrigued to hear what she would do for each lyric of the song.
The two highlights for me were her taking verse 2 up an octave, and the heavy screams that transition out of pre chorus 2 into the chorus. The arrangement is of such high quality that I cannot give anything but high praise to the team for a successful undertaking!
The Interview: Zahna, Patrick Madsen and Steve Ozbun Talk T. Swift Cover
Interviewed By Matt Durlin and Jessica Walker, recorded via Zoom.
Watch the full length interview or read the highlights below.
Jessica and I are very excited to be talking with Zahna along with her husband and
drummer Patrick Madsen. We’re also joined by musician and producer Steve Ozbun.
Good morning, thanks for having us today!
Let’s start out by talking about “Look What You Made Me Do,” the Taylor Swift cover
song which was released on New Years’ Eve. Whose idea was it to cover a Taylor Swift song? What was the inspiration behind doing this?
Steve: Yeah, so that was kind of my fault. I have been a big Taylor Swift fan for a long time, and also a fan of those pop goes punk albums where they take a pop song and bring it into a genre that I love. So I brought this idea to Zahna on Instagram and said it would be perfect for her, and she agreed.
Zahna: It’s funny because I had no idea there were already covers of this song. It is something I’d wanted to do but didn’t have time, but when COVID hit, I was looking for work cause touring went down. Steve reached out, not even knowing who I was. He just randomly reached out to me about his cover band project. I told him I kinda wanted to adopt it for myself. And Pat was able to do some drums, right?
Pat: When I first heard about this and it was a T Swift song, I was like “okay…” and asked “who are we working with?” It wasn’t until I started recording the drums that I thought this was a sick song. I was late to the game, because she was already working on adding her style to it. I had a lot going on at the time too.
Zahna: It was difficult because we started doing this in March or May, and all the studios were closing, and we had to bounce around. I tried to track drums for Patrick and it didn’t go well.
Patrick: I had to track drums like four times. But you only need to get it right once!
Zahna: We had a really good time. I was able to track vocals with Eddie DePool outside of Nashville while we were there recording for my new album.
Compare and contrast this version of “Look What You Made Me Do” to the Taylor Swift version. What are similarities and differences between what you’re doing to the original?
Zahna: I loved the original. When it came out I was like, “this is everything I want to say about the Christian music industry but I can’t.” It is a song about overcoming the obstacles thrown at me. I just wanted to convey an angry emotion with it, but she is more calm and cute, in a creepy kind of way.
Pat: I sit back and listen to the final product, and we found a way to capture a cover but have our voices still on it. The music and breakdowns are all Zahna-esque while making it a cover.
Steve: This is the fourth or fifth cover I started working on, and so I just take a base template so it doesn’t feel different. The structure is 100%, but we add our own flavor flav, and we were all able to put our personalities in it. It was awesome working with you guys.
Zahna: Yeah, and there are other covers of it, but ours is significantly different. It’s more metal than the other covers. I think ours stands out.
Tell us about the concept video, where was it filmed and what the process of making the video like?
Zahna: Yeah, so my new album is written and will be mixed and mastered soon, but we need some time to figure out the release and marketing plan. So I needed to give something to the fans. It will be like a snack for the fans until the new music comes out. So when we were in Nashville, we had Steve– who is from Alabama– come up, and we worked with the same producer who worked with The Persuaded. He was able to schedule us in for election night and it was done at 1087 Studios. Couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out.
This is not the first time Zahna has covered another artist– there have been Flyleaf covers in the past as well. What other artists would you like to cover at some point?
Zahna: Me and Steve started talking about it and we talked about My Chemical Romance songs. Definitely a My Chem song.
You’ve been teasing that this is a big year with a lot in store from the Zahna camp. What can we look forward to from you in the upcoming year?
Zahna: Yes, everything’s pretty much done. There are 11 demos right now, but I’m kinda waiting right now. We’d like to release an album and tour and make the first week really good. But we wanted to get the Taylor Swift cover out and buy us some time.
Pat, you have season 2 of The Guilty Party coming out?
Pat: We have season two coming out, and it’s going to be great now that we know what we’re doing. And shoutout to Micah Labrosse– he is great with the tech stuff and keeps me organized.
What about you, Steve?
Steve: Earlier this year I started a cover project called Sincerest Form of Flattery. Earlier we released a single called “Holy Grail,” and I’m not solo, so this is a collaborative project. I pair up with singers who want to make pop songs metal. I have a song coming out in the next month or two with the singer from Wolves at the Gate.
Thanks so much for taking time to chat with Rock On Purpose today! Before you go, can you tell us how we can find “Look What You Made Me Do” and keep up with what you all are doing this year?
Zahna: Make sure to follow Zahna (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), Steve Ozbun for The Sincerest Form of Flattery, and follow Pat’s The Guilty Podcast too. You can find the song on Spotify and Apple Music and the video is on YouTube.