A brother and sister 'brat pop duo from County Durham have released a new single. Emily Parsons talks to Liv Griff from ZELA about their 'Gallagher moments'

“I’m forever writing lyrics; I can’t stop that”, says musician Liv Griff.

“I always have a bank of words ready to go when Max comes to me with an idea and he’s written the foundation of something cool.”

Liv Griff makes up one half of the Newcastle’s rising electronic “brat-pop” duo, ZELA. Along with Liv’s brother, Max Griff, the band have recently released their new single, titled ‘Gaslighting isn’t real, you’re just mental'.

Music has always been a big part of family life for the pair, with their father working as a musician and taking them along to support all of his gigs. By the ages of 13 and 14, Max and Liv had set up their own cover band, and were performing in pubs and clubs all over their home town of Spennymoor, County Durham.

The Northern Echo: Brat-pop duo ZELA, originally from Spennymoor, have released their new single:

Naturally, this evolved into creating their own material. ZELA was birthed in 2020, just around the beginning of the first lockdown.

“We’ve always had our ‘Gallagher moments’,” Liv says, explaining how she finds working with her older brother.

“And I’m definitely Liam, out of the two of us. But we’re so close in age, that any disagreements we have end up being very brief and often quite funny. We tend to have a very different view of things – he’s very practical, while I’m very impulsive.”

This is certainly demonstrated in the process behind writing their recent single, ‘Gaslighting isn’t real, you’re just mental’, which was something that happened “suspiciously quickly” for Liv.

“I just felt like I needed to write this song,” Liv says.

The Northern Echo: Brat-pop duo ZELA, originally from Spennymoor, have released their new single, TITLED 'Gaslighting isn’t real, you’re just mental'Brat-pop duo ZELA, originally from Spennymoor, have released their new single, TITLED 'Gaslighting isn’t real, you’re just mental' (Image: BRIAN NICHOLSON)

"I had been in a pretty toxic relationship for a few months last winter, and I was in a strange place mentally. Max had this bass loop that he’d written on our MacBook that he’d nearly deleted, and I found it and just wrote the whole song over this one bass loop.

“We’ve fleshed the song out with producers since, but the lyrics are still very raw - I’ve barely touched them.”

Liv describes how their signature “brat-pop” style was inspired by their bold, unapologetic and in-your-face attitude to music and life, made special by their own hybrid of the electronic music they produce in the studio and the live instrument aspects of their onstage performances.

It’s not just the music scene they’re taking over, though. ZELA have also risen to viral fame on TikTok in the last few months, as Liv’s ‘Bratty Healy’ and ‘British Olivia Rodrigo’ impression videos have amassed nearly two million views each on the platform.

“TikTok is kind of known as something you have to utilise to the best of your ability, you have to always be creating content, which can be really hard to keep up with,” Liv says.

"But I’ve found my space on here, so we’re getting the right traction.

“When we talk about songs in the studio now, TikTok is definitely a conversation. It’s about seeing what’s connecting on there, what people want to hear.

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"But it’s also about people feeling heard. We notice people relating to our music and tagging each other, saying ‘I feel so much better for this’. And that’s what it’s all about – I want people to feel better”.

ZELA are headlining The Grove in Newcastle this Saturday, November 25. For tickets, visit: https://www.seetickets.com/event/zela/the-grove/2795661

Other upcoming live shows: · Years End Fest, Manchester – Saturday, December 9; The Finsbury, London (Headline Show) – Tuesday, December 12; X-Fest, Stockton – Friday, December 29