Lolo Zouaï Has a Very Chill Day Off in NYC
The singer’s “Brooklyn Love” really shines through.
By Annie Harrigan and Lolo Zouaï
Published on 1/5/2023 at 5:15 PM
Photo Courtesy of Lolo Zouaï
Lolo Zouaï is a French-Algerian singer from San Francisco, California, known for her ability to sing in English, French, and Arabic. In 2019, she released her debut album High Highs to Low Lows, a pop album with R&B influences. Since the release of her first record, Zouaï has landed campaigns for Coach and Tommy Hilfiger, had her single “Desert Rose” go viral, and earlier this year she joined Dua Lipa on the North American leg of the Future Nostalgia tour. In October, the 27-year-old singer released her second album, PLAYGIRL, which she will be taking on a world tour in the spring. Zouaï now splits her time between Los Angeles and New York, but chose to share with us her perfect day off in New York City, where she had her first apartment and began her music career.
I like to start my day off with a run through Prospect Park. To me, Prospect Park feels like an underdog when compared to Central Park. Central Park is in the movies, everybody knows it, and it is beautiful. But Prospect Park is just as beautiful. There’s a lake that freezes over in the winter. People can ice skate there. There’s boats and swans, and so many different sections of the park that you can discover a new one every day.
Running around the whole park is about three miles and that’s a really good run. Going for a run in the park would be the one thing that would get me out of my depression. When I start running, I feel this immediate confidence boost that I always forget about when I don't feel like running.
The run is also the perfect amount of time to listen to a full album. I remember when I was working on my debut album, High Highs to Low Lows, I listened to it all the way through during my run to test it out and realized it wasn’t ready yet. I like to think of an album as a workout. You get the hard moments, the sped up moments, and the more laid-back moments. If I was to run through Prospect Park to my new album, PLAYGIRL, I would start with the title track “pl4yg1rl,” because it is such a hype song. Then I would go into “Picking Berries,” “Gummy Bear,” “Free Trial,” and “Crazy Sexy Dream Girl,” to continue pumping me up. To cool down, I’d hit “Tamagotchi (intermission),” and “Skin & Bones” to stretch.
Prospect Park | iStock / Getty Images Plus
“There’s a lake that freezes over in the winter. People can ice skate there. There’s boats and swans, and so many different sections of the park that you can discover a new one every day.”
After my run, I like to stop at Loud Baby Coffee, which is right outside the park. Loud Baby is a small shop owned by two sisters. I like to say it’s meant for short people because it’s so small. It’s a really cute cafe that also sells baby clothes. For a long while, it was the only place where I could find a really good espresso. Their lattes are perfect in the late fall and winter.
For lunch, I go to Risbo, a French-African restaurant just across the street from Loud Baby. The restaurant’s owner’s name is Boris. In French, we have a form of slang called Verlan, which is where we flip the order in which syllables are pronounced. So the popular artist Stromae, for example, is Verlan for “Maestro,” and Boris is now Risbo. Boris came into Brooklyn and made something that really fits the neighborhood. Risbo just has a really cool vibe. There's an outdoor patio where they’re always playing really good R&B. The food feels like a home-cooked meal. Their kale salad is just delicious. They put plantain or a sweet potato in it with sunflower seeds. They also have good drinks. It's definitely a treat. Now that I’m in LA, I miss it.
Risbo | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
“There's an outdoor patio where they’re always playing really good R&B. The food feels like a home-cooked meal.”
Next, I leave Brooklyn and go into Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I spend a lot of time at Flux Studios. Flux is my home base in New York. I started recording High Highs in their basement, which felt really grungy. A$AP Rocky recorded some stuff down there and Mark Ronson owned a room in Flux at one point. Flux is a really gritty place that feels very different from the modern, “spaceship-y” music studios. It has a grit to it that makes the music feel more raw, but it’s still a really great quality studio.
I started recording in the basement in 2017, and over time, started recording upstairs in the nicer rooms. The owner of the studio, Fab Dupont, helps mix my albums and curates such an incredible community. I spent a lot of hours there working on making this album with Joey Wunsch, my engineer, co-writer, and producer. I have so many memories at Flux spending late hours laughing, drinking the champagne that’s always in the fridge, and writing. There's always somebody there and it feels like family, which is why I love it so much.
Photo Courtesy of Flux Studios
“Flux is a really gritty place that feels very different from the modern, 'spaceship-y' music studios. It has a grit to it that makes the music feel more raw, but it’s still a really great quality studio.”
After working in the studio, I like to get drinks with my homies at Cherry Tavern, which is a dive bar with really cheap drinks also in the Lower East Side. They’ve got some bar snacks and pool tables. You can get a really good, strong dirty martini there for $7 and you can pay with Venmo, which is fun. I’m into clear liquors, so when I go there, I like to get a gin and tonic or a vodka Sprite.
If I have time, I love to go thrift shopping. I would say a perfect day for me always includes a solo trip to a thrift store. L Train Vintage is a super popular thrift store with a bunch of locations, but I think the one in Gowanus is their best. I always find amazing stuff there. Thrifting for me is an activity I love to do alone. I put my headphones in, zone out, and go to work. The fun for me is finding gems. I’ve found so many cool NASCAR jackets thrifting, and I have this fake Fendi purse—well, I think it’s fake, but it looks real to me—that I love. I generally prefer thrifting over going to a vintage store. I'd just rather be like, “I found this thing and they priced it way too low and I love it.”
Annie Harrigan is an Editorial Coordinator for Thrillist.com. Find her on Twitter @AnnieAHarrigan.
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