When 24-year-old Zoë Kravitz released the single “Drive” last month with her new band Lolawolf, it was not an especially surprising move. Kravitz has performed a handful of times with politically charged cabaret troupe The Citizens Band and has been casually making music since she was 16. Her father is also Lenny Kravitz, so you might say music runs in the family.
What is surprising, however, are the lyrics. The synth-heavy “Drive” touches on drugs, booze, fucking, and, of course, driving. The no-nonsense narrative coupled with the delightfully cheesy electronic production brings to mind a vapid babe from a Bret Easton Ellis novel cruising around Los Angeles in a vintage Corvette.
The entire Lolawolf album, which comes out this November, is sheer indulgence. Music serves as a sort of extracurricular activity to Kravitz’s hectic filming schedule—she has roles in both the highly anticipated Divergent and the adaptation of Mad Max, which come out next year. Recorded at night and produced by Kravitz’s good pal Jimmy Giannopoulus, the record is a carefree, sleep-deprived experiment amongst friends. Kravitz was kind enough to let us be the first to know what Lolawolf is all about.
ALLYSON SHIFFMAN: Where does the name Lolawolf come from?
ZOË KRAVITZ: It’s my brother’s and my sister’s names.
SHIFFMAN: That’s sweet. Are they flattered?
KRAVITZ: They’re four and six, so they don’t care. [laughs] Maybe one day they will be.
SHIFFMAN: Was pursuing a music career something you had always had in mind?
KRAVITZ: No… I’m still not really planning on pursuing a music career. I like to make music because it’s fun to do and it makes me feel good, but I have no desire to be a huge pop singer or anything like that. I just like to make it.
SHIFFMAN: What can you tell me about your Lolawolf bandmates?
KRAVITZ: We’ve got Jimmy, he has pretty good dance moves and he’s an amazing producer. He’s also in Reputante with James Levy, who is the other band member. And we have Raviv Ullman, who’s in Reputante as well. He plays the drums. They’re pretty much just my best friends—we hang out all the time. I’ve seen a million Reputante shows and I’m super supportive of them, so it was just like… “I want to play!”
SHIFFMAN: [laughs] I have also seen a million Reputante shows.
KRAVITZ: I probably met you at a Reputante show.
SHIFFMAN: I love how blunt the lyrics on “Drive” are. Did you write them yourself?
KRAVITZ: [laughs] I did, yeah. They are very blunt. The boys came out to L.A. when I was shooting a film. We were all in this really specific state of mind and we would get together at night when I was done filming and pump out one song a night, even if we weren’t feeling it. So as a result of that, a lot of the lyrics are super blunt. We weren’t making it to release it or have people hear it, so it’s as honest as it will get and just playful and funny. It was really late nights and being like, “I don’t know what this is, but let’s just go for it and be as poppy and cheesy as we want to be.” Just making ourselves laugh.
SHIFFMAN: How did you and Jimmy meet?
KRAVITZ: Jimmy was my neighbor. We had a mutual friend that we met when he was spinning at Blackbird, which is a bar that used to be on Bedford but it closed a couple years ago. Then we found out that he lived next door to me, so I ended up running into him every day. Finally I said, “Let’s just… be friends.” Then he met a bunch of other friends of mine and we all became this inseparable crew.
SHIFFMAN: Is there one person who keeps everyone on track in the studio?
KRAVITZ: Jimmy is pretty focused, I have to say. He and James would just start finding a vibe and then I would write to it. He just lets me do my thing and then he makes these little changes or gives me a little bit of direction that will change the whole thing completely. He’ll be like, “Say it more like that,” or “Be more dramatic.” He pushes me to get out of my comfort zone in these really subtle ways and I’ll say, “What are you talking about?” And then I’ll hear it and go, “Oh my god, that made the song so much better.” He’s super, super talented.
SHIFFMAN: Have you thought about how you might translate the album into a live show?
KRAVITZ: We’re in the midst of planning live shows. I’m a perfectionist, so I think Jimmy’s going to have to calm me down because I don’t get on a stage unless everything is perfect. I feel like they’re really good at putting the work in but letting it happen organically. We’ll have to figure it out somehow. [laughs] I hope it works. It’s hard because it’s so electronic.
SHIFFMAN: What does your dad think about you pursuing music?
KRAVITZ: At this point, I’m 24 and I’ve been making music since I was 16, so it’s not a shock to anybody. For people who know me, it’s not an out-of-character thing for me to do.
SHIFFMAN: It’s funny that you’re releasing an album and your dad is doing more films; your worlds are colliding a bit. Could a collaboration happen or is it something you’re avoiding?
KRAVITZ: It’s not something we’re avoiding. We just haven’t done it yet.
SHIFFMAN: You’ve been traveling for a little while now. What are you missing most about New York?
KRAVITZ: I’m coming back soon, because the weather is supposed to be perfect right now. I’m running back to the weather.
SHIFFMAN: What music have you been listening to?
KRAVITZ: I’ve been listening to whatever I have on my iPhone. The Tame Impala album is really good. I just went running to A Tribe Called Quest, The Anthology.
SHIFFMAN: As someone who is constantly on the move, what do you do to relax?
KRAVITZ: Um… eat [laughs].
SHIFFMAN: [laughs] What is your comfort food?
KRAVITZ: Anything involving avocado makes me really happy.
SHIFFMAN: Where do you eat in New York?
KRAVITZ: I go to Café Mogador a lot. I’m obsessed with Juice Press—they’re everywhere. I spend so much money at that place it’s crazy. Also Souen and Lovely Day.
SHIFFMAN: I know Jimmy is really into skateboarding. Has he gotten you on a skateboard yet?
KRAVITZ: He spray-painted one for my birthday two years ago and gave it to me but I’ve yet to learn how to skateboard. I really want to learn.
SHIFFMAN: When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
KRAVITZ: I wanted to be a spy because I watched Harriet The Spy.
SHIFFMAN: Besides the album, what else do you have coming up?
KRAVITZ: We’re doing Mad Max reshoots in Australia in November. Then Divergent comes out at the top of next year and we’ll see how that goes.
SHIFFMAN: Is there a role you haven’t tackled yet that entices you?
KRAVITZ: I’d love to do a comedy, that’s the one thing I haven’t done yet that I really, really want to do. I did a film this year called The Road Within where I played an anorexic, and that was really challenging. That was my big dramatic role—I lost 20 pounds.
SHIFFMAN: That must have been a challenge given how much you love food.
KRAVITZ: Exactly. It was really hard for me [laughs].
SHIFFMAN: How did you do it?
KRAVITZ: I had a nutritionist help. I did this big cleanse—the Dr. Shultze cleanse—and then I was just eating nothing but vegetables and running every day. It was really intense.
SHIFFMAN: Wow. You must have been delighted when that was over.
KRAVITZ: Our last shot was in Yosemite and I brought this bag of hummus and my favorite corn chips [laughs]. We were doing the album while I was shooting that movie so I was underweight, really hungry, a little bit cranky, not drinking, not allowed to snack on everything… So I would be there drinking hot water and lemon. It was that late-at-night vibe where you want a glass of wine or you want some chips.
SHIFFMAN: Have your parents commented on the raunchy song lyrics?
KRAVITZ: No, they’re cool. I’m a grown-up now. [laughs]
SHIFFMAN: You can talk about having sex with boys and driving cars.
KRAVITZ: Yes, I can.
FOR MORE ON LOLAWOLF, VISIT THE BAND’S TUMBLR PAGE.