Gabriella Zauna talks ‘Silhouette Silhouette’, TikTok and the “magic formula” of making music

LA musician Gabriella Zauna swings by Happy Mag for a deep dive into her new single.

There’s an addictive intensity to Gabriella Zauna’s latest single Silhouette Silhouette. Pulsating and sultry, the track finds the LA singer-songwriter at her most enrapturing, pairing whispery vocals with a slinky beat and effortless swagger.

Zauna’s mastery of her sound makes for a compelling listen, but diving deeper into the musician herself unveils even more surprises — especially given her young age. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

“[It was] probably the best decision I’ve ever made,” Zauna said of her choice to pursue music in her early teens.

Below, the 19-year-old sheds light on the genesis of her artistry, the conception of Silhouette Silhouette, and her belief that there’s “no magic formula” behind the process of making music.

Check out our full interview with Gabriella Zauna below, and scroll down to listen to her new single Silhouette Silhouette. 

HAPPY: What are you up to today? 

GABRIELLA: Today, I have been working on my upcoming release, “Silhouette Silhouette”! As an independent artist with a small team, there is a lot of work we do leading up to any release.

Today, specifically, I’ve just been on and off the phone with my team, coming up with content ideas for this release.

This one is super pivotal in my journey as a musician because this is very different from what I’ve done in the past, so I want to make sure that we can get as many ears on it as possible! 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: Tell us about where you are from. What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods? 

GABRIELLA: I’m from a beach town a little outside of LA. Growing up on the outskirts is a blessing because it allows me to remove myself from the “scene” and is also more close-knit-oriented, in my opinion.

I go on walks and see kids playing in front of their homes, I go to the beach when I need to collect my thoughts, and when I need to get shit done, I take a 30-minute drive into the city whether it is for a meeting, a studio session, event, or vocal sessions. Being able to have that balance is vital to my sanity. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: Describe an average day? 

GABRIELLA: Usually, I wake up and have an iced matcha and cold brew from Starbucks to get my day going, then go in my studio for hours on end, working on a bunch of new music or going to sessions with other producers/friends.

My world is music, and I could not be more grateful. To keep myself grounded, I take walks for however long I need just to get some fresh air because my studio can sometimes feel a little claustrophobic and, ironically, uninspiring at times. However, it is my safe space, it’s nice to ground myself in that way. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: You started making music at a very young age. Can you tell us about the moment or experience that inspired you to pursue a career in music? 

GABRIELLA: Funny enough, for the longest time, I did not want to be a musician. I’ve played tennis since I was barely breathing air, and when I was younger, I was so sure that that was going to be my career path.

At age 7, I started getting super into guitar and writing poetry. The older I got, I started writing music with no intention other than to make myself feel understood in what I was experiencing and writing about.

I’ve struggled with mental health throughout my childhood, and music was my way of releasing and processing what I was going through.

Eventually, the picture in my head of me being a pro tennis player was fading, and music was the path I only saw myself proceeding with. Making that decision is probably the best decision I’ve ever made. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: How has growing up in Los Angeles influenced your musical style and creativity? 

GABRIELLA: Being in LA from a young age has allowed me to explore my creativity more than I think other cities would.

Los Angeles is full of creatives and is widely accepting of making your art form into a career, so being surrounded by that encouraging environment from my family.

The city helped me feel comfortable and confident enough to pursue my passion. I’m very fortunate to have the ability to make my art my life and my career. 

HAPPY: Could you share more about your experience of having synesthesia and how is shapes your approach to creating music?

GABRIELLA: I think this question is super interesting because I’ve never known any better. I don’t know what it’s like to NOT have synesthesia haha.

I always just thought everybody associated colors, shapes, numbers, textures, etc with sound. If you don’t know what synesthesia is, it’s basically a disorder in which you associate sound with other senses.

All the music I make has different associations which are out of my control. When I’m in the process of making a song, it shapes the route I take while making it. For example, Silhouette is a deep purple and black/white.

So, when I was looking through samples to put in the song, I looked for samples that resembled those colors and put them in the song. That’s just one example of how I use it to my advantage, but synthesis is a complex thing to explain and understand. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: “Silhouette Silhouette” explores the idea of reciprocity in relationships. What inspired you to write about this theme and how did you approach conveying it in the song? 

GABRIELLA: A lot of the music I write is based on personal experience. One day, I was with my manager in the studio, and she was just talking to me about life, and we ended up coming up with the idea of exploring physical intimacy with someone who is not used to it.

For me, subjects like these are ones that I do not like publicizing and something I like to keep private, but hey, we ended up making a good song about it haha.

I feel like reciprocity in a relationship is something you would expect to be standard, but a lot of the time, that isn’t the case.

I know that reciprocal intimacy is something many people fear; being intimate in any form is a scary thing, and being open with another person is one of the hardest things to do that a human is capable of.

I hoped that through making this song, it would help others understand that reciprocal feelings of intimacy is a good thing, not something that should scare you. 

HAPPY: You mentioned drawing inspiration from Middle Eastern drum patterns and Afro beats in the production of this single. What drew you to incorporate these elements, and how did they contribute to the overall sound of the track? 

GABRIELLA: Going back to the previous question, I was sitting down in the studio with my manager when she was showing me songs that have different drum patterns from what I usually gravitate towards.

She was like “why don’t you try making a song with a Latin/African percussion feel to it” I haven’t really taken that approach to any of my music before, which is what made making this song so new and fun.

This song is about exploring someone for the first time, so exploring new sounds for the first time and experimenting with them was something I found fitting. The beat in my opinion is the core of the song. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: Can you give us a glimpse into the world you’ve created for “Silhouette Silhouette”? 

GABRIELLA: This song is about exploring someone for the first time intimately. I wanted this song to feel like an exploration of the body with a sensual drive behind it.

For me, taking the meaning of a song and matching its sound to it is key to making music that resonates with people, so I really hope I did my job correctly with this one ahaha. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: How does the music and visuals come together to immerse listeners in this world? With a significant following on TikTok, how do you utilize the platform to connect with your audience and promote your music? 

GABRIELLA: Like I’ve said before, synesthesia plays a massive role in how I make my music, as well as my visuals. Because the song is purple/black/white, the cover art resembles those colors.

The initial cover art idea I had for this single had purple in it, but we decided to go with the full black and white photo because it matched the vibe of the song more.

If I were to do a music video for this song, many of the visuals would have purple influence. Synesthesia is often how I determine my visuals that correspond to the music.

As far as being on TikTok, it’s been an amazing platform that has given me the opportunity to connect with people through my music, thousands of miles away, through a singular video.

The idea of it is incredible. One of my favorite things about my job is that people get to connect with my music and apply it to their own lives, to help them through whatever they are going through.

At my first show in October 2022, I had kids hugging me so tight, saying that my music had saved their lives. A statement like that is something a human should never be able to process, and I still struggle to process it.

Listening to music and making it has always been my safe space, so the fact that my music is that for others is something I will forever be grateful for. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: Could you share some insights into your creative process when producing and writing music? 

GABRIELLA: My creative process has changed so much over the years. I started producing at 12, but really releasing at 15. The way I produced when I was 15 compared to me right now as a 19 year old are drastic.

It used to always take me 20+ versions to complete a production, but now I am able to get my ideas out much faster, and I attribute that to just growth as a artist, knowing what I want more of, and being more skilled at music production.

Often songs will now take me 2-5 versions, even then sometimes it’s only 1 version. Sometimes it will take me 10 minutes to write a song, other times it will take me years. It truly depends on the song in general and the topic of the song.

For example, if I’m writing about a breakup, it will take me ages to finish songs like that because it is so much to process. If I’m writing about being in love, it’ll more times than not take me 5 minutes.

For me, something effortless like being in love makes it effortless to write about. Something heavy is not effortless to write about all the time. Silhouette silhouette came about pretty quick and seamlessly. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: Do you have any specific rituals or routines that help you get into the creative flow? 

GABRIELLA: To be completely honest, no. There is no magic formula to the way I get into the flow, it kind of just happens. However, a ritual I do to ground myself at the end of the day is journaling.

I cannot recommend it enough. Going to therapy and journaling is the best combination for grounding. The life of an artist can be hectic; needing to be creative as your job/source of income while also being technical with it by using social media to promote.

It can get exhausting so making sure you are grounding yourself at the end of the day or the start of it super important. Other than that, I don’t think I do any exercises to get myself into it. If I’m feeling it I’m feeling it, if I’m not I’m not. 

Gabriella Zauna interview

HAPPY: Lastly, what makes you happy? 

GABRIELLA: Doing what I love most and experiencing life in my present with the people that matter most to me. It has taken me a long time to be able to say that.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing life in a whole new way, and writing about those experiences has brought me a lot of fulfillment. I just can’t wait for people to hear all the new things I have coming because I have a BUNCH of shit.

I’ve never been so busy in my life creating, and while it can get exhausting, it has been the most fulfilling and euphoric thing. Being exhausted by something you love is a blessing.