Chicago-based singer-songwriter Nina Ferraro has been going by the moniker BONZIE since age 17, as she says, “It’s how I process and interpret things that have happened to me or in life in general; it’s my way of trying to understand the world.”
An astute observer of the human condition, her sophomore record Zone on Nine finds her reaching across the music map to influences as diverse as Tchaikovsky and Gil Scott-Heron. The result, a powerful and honest album of intricate surrealist pop.
ARTISTdirect broke the ice with BONZIE to get the scoop on the new album, find out just how far she had to travel to get it done right, and find out what stamp she wants on her passport next.
Hello – Please introduce yourself.
Hi. This is BONZIE.
Where are you right now?
Looking at Lake Michigan.
Tell us about your new project: Who did you work with? Where was it recorded? What’s it about? Is there candy?
My new album is called Zone on Nine. I recorded it over the span of a couple years in London, Bristol, UK, Los Angeles and Chicago. I live in Chicago, and self-produced the record, but I traveled to work with Jonathan Wilson in LA and Ali Chant and Adrian Utley of the band Portishead in the UK. It was vital for songs to work with these people in these places that are so different from each other. I like the contrast that has given to Zone on Nine as a whole. To answer your candy question, I suppose it’s imported chocolate and house made truffles…
How do you describe your music to new friends?
I do what I like.
Other than BONZIE, what should your hometown be known for?
I grew up in Wisconsin, so beautiful forests, practically untouched nature…
What first inspired you to pursue music? If it was a musician or a specific piece of music, please tell us all about why you find it so inspirational…
I was inspired by a lot of artists, but I didn’t grow up with musicians around me or anything that would necessarily point me in this direction. I’d always been into other mediums, especially filmmaking— I used to make documentary films as a kid, editing them and designing the look and feel was very conducive to songwriting. When I started writing songs with instruments, piano, guitar… I was nine or ten and it wasn’t something I showed off with. I kept it to myself for a long time. When I started performing, I did it without notifying anyone … that was when I was twelve or thirteen. Music making is incredibly personal and it stuck to me so tightly—it’s become way I interpret things.
What’s the best advice anyone has given you about pursuing a life in music?
I do not read the reviews / No I am not singing for you
Not including your current crew, who (alive or dead) would you love to have in your van for an all day drive from gig to gig?
What song best sums up your life right now?
Big Sky by The Kinks
What is the best reaction to your music you have experienced so far?
I remember a group of people who drove hours, cross-state to see my show in Philadelphia. They came decked out in my merch, which was so incredible. It’s always amazing connecting with people like that.
Take a moment to dream – Where do hope to be a year from now?
I’d love to perform overseas—Asia and Europe, the UK, Brazil. I love my international audience. Perhaps another album. I have some things in the works…
What’s your next step towards that dream?
Watching more NHK! (Research…)
Renewing my passport!
For more information visit the BONZIE hub on ARTISTdirect