Photo: courtesy of Sony Music

Zara Larsson Is Proud To Speak Her Truth

Swedish pop sensation Zara Larsson has been making waves since the tender age of 15. Now 21, the outspoken singer of hits like “Ruin My Life” and “Never Forget You” prioritizes using her massive platform to advocate for herself and what she believes in. She’s headlining this year’s Capital Pride concert on June 9, and spoke to us about why Pride is important to her, being a role model to her fans and sticking up for herself.

On Tap: Why do you want to perform at the Capital Pride concert?
Zara Larsson:
I always try to go to Pride in Stockholm. It’s something I really support. I’m lucky enough to have parents who raised me to believe that everyone has the right to love whoever they want. It’s really an honor to be performing at Pride, because it’s still needed. It’s an important cause for people to come out and be able to celebrate being themselves.

OT: What can your audience expect from your performance? Do you have anything different planned?
ZL:
I know we’ll have a great time because I know when I perform with my band, we always have so much fun. Most of my set is up-tempo and fun and dancey, so I hope to bring a little party. I’m very spontaneous, but I have something rehearsed that I’ve been doing for awhile.

OT: In addition to your participation in Pride, you’re known for being outspoken about your beliefs in general. Is this something you always wanted to use your platform for?
ZL:
I think that some people might be worried because they have a career in singing and acting, and might be scared of voicing their opinions because of what other people might think. I think that human rights will always be more important than my career. I just believe it’s a part of me. I stand up for what I believe in. I have no problem with voicing that.

OT: Why is that something that’s very important to you in both your personal and professional life?
ZL:
I think it’s important for me to do that because I know I have a lot of followers who are young people looking up to me. I’d like to be a good role model in that kind of scenario. A good role model to me isn’t to not drink or party or curse. It’s more how you treat people. That’s what defines a good person to me. I’d like to influence as many people as possible. I’m very loud. If I don’t agree with something, I’ll let you know. In school, I was always arguing with teachers and my parents. They raised me in a way where they allowed me to have discussions with them, question things and ask, “Well, why is that?”

I think that kind of shaped me into the person I am.

OT: That’s a very admirable way to be, especially as someone in the public eye. Do you ever feel pressure when acting as a role model or voicing your opinions?
ZL:
It’s hard because of course you want to make people open their eyes and be more empathetic and understanding. But it is hard to argue and be sensitive when someone is saying, “Oh, but if you are gay…” Some parents will say, “You don’t deserve to live under my roof anymore. I don’t want to have any contact with you.” And when things are to that point, it’s very hard to realize how to talk sense into someone like that. It’s a f–king art form. It has to be. But it’s hard. I don’t think it’s impossible. I think that’s why we need to have this debate and talk about it all the time.

OT: You’re a huge advocate for yourself, too, especially in having creative control over your work. What’s it like for you as an international pop star to exercise that kind of agency?
ZL:
I think that everyone can kind of relate, whether you’re in music or not, just as a woman in regular life. I feel like women in general don’t get a lot of credit. People don’t really want to believe immediately that you did all this by yourself or you’re capable of doing it. The songs that I love that have been doing well are songs that I had to fight for. Growing up, I had to learn that I don’t need to listen to every single person who has an opinion on what I do. I know what’s good and what’s not, and should have control over that.

Catch Zara Larsson at the Capital Pride concert on Sunday, June 9 from 6-7 p.m. at the Capitol concert stage. The concert begins at 1 p.m. and is free and open to the public, with VIP and pit passes available for purchase. For more Capital Pride programming, visit www.capitalpride.org. For more on Larsson, visit www.zaralarssonofficial.com.

Capital Pride concert: Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street in NW, DC

Photo: courtesy of Davina and The Vagabonds

AMP by Strathmore Welcomes Davina and The Vagabonds

In 2006, singer Davina Lozier teamed with musicians Zack Lozier, Steve Rogness and George Marich in Minnesota to create a sound reminiscent of New Orleans jazz and blues from yesteryear, but with a modern twist.

Davina and The Vagabonds’ retro sound, powered by a strong horn section, quickly took off and in 2011, the band released its debut album to critical success.

In July, the group will release its newest album Sugar Drops for Red House Records, its first on a studio label. Their first single “Little Miss Moonshine” is already finding airplay and exciting fans for the whole album.

“We went to Nashville and held up at a studio, the first time we’ve done that,” Davina Lozier says. “We took a big risk and hired these amazing musicians and it was great. There were 15 songs and it took a lot to prepare for it, but getting in there was such an amazing time.”

She admits that she does feel stressed when in the studio because of the “permanence” of it all, and while she’s a huge fan of performing live, she is often scared of the result. But upon listening to the final product, Lozier and her band were happy.

“This is our seventh album and it feels like every album is crazy,” she says. “I think people are going to really enjoy the new music.”

Life wasn’t always easy for this frontwoman. A drug habit in high school sent her down a path that eventually led to her to homelessness, and included several stints in jail. She cleaned up her act, started the band and has been working hard to become a success ever since. Much of her emotional journey can be heard in the lyrics to her songs.

“I’m still me, I can’t get away from that, though I’ve tried a few times,” she says. “Honesty is a huge thing for me with my music. Even if you’re doing music from eras past and paying homage to music that you, yourself have been influenced by, it needs to come from the heart and from your own truth.”

Davina and The Vagabonds is coming through town in June for a concert at the AMP by Strathmore. Lozier hopes the audience will enjoy the band’s high-energy performance and feel a sense of individuality.

“It will be a great high-energy show with a level of musicianship that is just exceptional,” Lozier says. “I love making people laugh and smile, so I interact with the audience. There’s a freedom to it. I want people to feel they can be themselves while listening, even though there are tons of people around them. I want them to enjoy the show the way they want to.”

She knows that performing is what she was meant to do with her life, and she is thankful that she’s getting the chance to do what she loves.

“I think people who see me know that there’s nothing else in the world I should be doing. I love being able to relate to people and have them relate to me,” Lozier says. “I love telling stories and moving people and making them think. Seeing them do that live is extremely important to me.”

See Davina and the Vagabonds at AMP by Strathmore in Bethesda on Friday, June 7. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are
$17.50-$37.50. Visit www.ampbystrathmore.com for show details.

1810 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda, MD;
www.ampbystrathmore.com

Walk Off the Earth at Fillmore Silver Spring

Walk Off the Earth returned to The Fillmore Silver Spring on May 29. Earlier this year, the band lost a dear band member in Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor, when he passed away on December 30. He was not only a multi-instrumentalist, but was one of a the founding members of the band. Despite their loss, the band has continued to pay tribute to “Beard Guy” by bringing amazing performances to the world. Highlights from Wednesday’s show included a performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (which quickly became a crowd sing-a-long) and other great covers such as “Shape of You” and “No Scrubs.” Everyone in attendance left the show smiling and happy. Photos and write-up: Shantel Mitchell Breen

DC Polo Society’s Opening Day

DC Polo Society kicked off its summer series at Congressional Polo Club with tailgating, yard games, cocktails, beer, food trucks and more. Get away to the countryside monthly, on Sunday afternoons, for more than just a polo match, visit dcpolo.com for more. Photos: John Gervasi PhotoArts, LLC

Budweiser Music Series at Nationals Park: Lovely Rita

Every Friday night home game at Nationals Park, the best place to pregame is on the Budweiser Terrace, and last week featured live music from Lovely Rita. Photos: Mike Kim

CityDance Dream Gala After Party

The CityDance DREAM Gala at Lincoln Theatre features the world’s hottest dancers and acclaimed companies in jaw-dropping performances in support of CityDance DREAM, a tuition-free dance program that seeks to level the playing field for students living in underserved DC neighborhoods.Guests enjoyed an after party at the Thurgood Marshall Center. Photos: Mike Kim

ziMS Foundation’s 10th Annual A Night at The Park

Nationals Park hosted the 10th Annual Night at the Park for Washington Nationals player Ryan Zimmerman’s philanthropy, ziMS Foundation, raising money to fight against Multiple Sclerosis. Guests enjoyed a VIP experience within the Club Level at Nationals Park, including mingling with Ryan, his Nationals’ teammates and other celebrity guests, cocktails and dinner, and the chance to bid on fantastic silent and live auction lots. Photos: Mark Raker Photography

DC Funk Parade 2019

Funk Parade hosted it’s sixth year in DC on U Street, celebrating the city’s vibrant music and arts culture with a long lineup of local artists. Photos: Devin Overbey

The Who at Jiffy Lube Live

Rock royalty played the Jiffy Lube Live on May 11 when The Who made a Virginia stop on their latest tour. Photos: Mark Raker

IDLES at Rock and Roll Hotel

IDLES’ latest album Joy as an Act of Resistance is an attempt to be vulnerable to their audience, to encourage vulnerability; a mere brave naked smile in this messed up new world. The band played DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel on May 12. Photos: Mike Kim