Zoe Montana Hoetzel has evolved into the multidimensional artist known as Zolita while cultivating a massive following.
Her personality is multifaceted as well. She identifies as both a lesbian and an activist, but she's also a singer/songwriter as well, quickly gaining popular success right out of the gate for her track "Explosion."
Extended play releases followed with Immaculate Conception and Sappho. Her debut studio album, Evil Angel, was released in 2020 and her latest work, Falling Out/Falling In, was recently unleashed in 2023. This has taken her out on the road and landed her in the heart of the Windy City.
Zolita talked about her career backstage at the music venue Subterranean after her first headlining gig in Chicago.
Windy City Times: Start off with your family background.
Zolita: We are German and Danish.
WCT: Where does your middle name Montana come from?
Zolita: My dad wanted a name to tie my siblings and me together, just in case we ever wanted to change our last name. We all have Montana as our middle name. He's a German guy who loves the state of Montana.
WCT: Speaking of people with similar sibling names, you are from Calabasas, California just like the Kardashians.
Zolita: Yes, growing up there, no one knew what Calabasas was until the Kardashians arrived.
WCT: Was your family supportive when you came out of the closet as a lesbian?
Zolita: Very supportive. I am very lucky my parents are super-artsy and European. There were some growing pains for my mom when she was letting go of previous ideas she had for me, and what she thought my future would be, but she was never homophobic in any way.
WCT: I noticed how you have created a safe space for your live concerts. I saw a wide variety of people from the LGBTQ+ community attending this Chicago show.
Zolita: Yes and the other amazing thing is people make friends. Some people come alone to my shows but will leave knowing new people. Someone posted on social media yesterday that a fan gave them their VIP bandana.
Everyone is so kind to each other. It is awesome to see.
WCT: You give a dollar for every ticket purchased to the Trevor Project?
Zolita: Yes, I wanted to have a charitable component to this tour. The Trevor Project was a perfect fit, with everything that they do as an organization.
WCT: Let's talk music. Your new EP Falling Out/Falling In was just released?
Zolita: Yes, on February 10 of this year.
WCT: Where did the title come from?
Zolita: I chose the six songs that I liked the most for the EP, and then thought about what the through line is between each track. I realized half of them were about the process of falling out of love and the other half was about falling in love.
WCT: There must have been many songs that didn't make the cut.
Zolita: Oh my gosh, so many. I was in sessions every day and there were 40 songs to choose from. I chose those six because I liked them the most. I write the songs myself, but sometimes I will use a co-writer or a producer to help me.
WCT: The track "Ashley" was something special to see performed live with a singalong from the crowd tonight.
Zolita: It is one of my favorites. My girlfriend's middle name is Ashley so that is where it came from.
WCT: Do you worry that people will think you are crazy after watching the video for "Crazy Ex?"
Zolita: [laughs] I am not a crazy ex. It is me tapping into a character that I don't get to be. If I didn't have a girlfriend and was single, I would worry about that more.
That is what is so fun about the song and video, because I am not that person usually. It was fun to play a character different than myself.
WCT: You use movie references in several of your music videos. What is your overall favorite film?
Zolita: Black Swan is the one I love so much.
WCT: I interviewed the director of Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky, recently and met Piper Perabo, who you pay homage to in the Coyote Ugly segment for the "Crazy Ex" video.
Zolita: No way. I referenced Piper's movie Imagine Me & You for my "Ashley" video.
WCT: Did you always want to be a performer?
Zolita: No, I wanted to be a director, which I am. The performance aspect doesn't come as naturally to me as the director part does. It has gotten better now though.
I love performing when I am behind the camera, because I have control over how it comes off in the editing room. This live space is very new to me, and I am having a lot of fun with it for sure.
WCT: You have control over the treatments in your music videos?
Zolita: Yes, I do literally everything.
WCT: This is a short tour, so what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Zolita: Right after the tour I will be going to South by Southwest because my video for "Somebody I Fucked Once" will be part of the film festival there. I turned it into a feature script. That is my next foray, to bring the script with me and make some contacts out there.
After that, I think we will do a longer run of this tour and visit all the cities that I didn't get to. This was only East Coast, West Coast and Chicago.
Festival season is coming, so I play Boston Calling on May 26 and Governor's Ball Music Festival on June 10. I am so excited!
WCT: Maybe a Chicago Pride festival will be in your future. Have you played Chicago before?
Zolita: I was here in 2019 when I had an opening slot at Chop Shop, which is just a few doors down from here.
WCT: For those that haven't discovered you yet, what would you like people to know about you as an artist?
Zolita: I want people to know my projects are so much more than just the music. There are visuals and a message to create an entire package. When people ask me about my music, I tell them to go to YouTube for the full experience and not just listen to the music.
This is why I started doing videos, so people can have a full experience and see the concept of my project. I make music, but visuals mean something. I want to be an activist through my music and videos. I am much more than just my music!
Look for this talented creator at ZolitaMusic.com, where links can be found to stream videos and much more.