Zella Day turned her own abortion story into song with “Radio Silence”
On June 24, Zella Day was set to release her new single “Radio Silence,” a pro-choice anthem that shared the intimate details of her own life-threatening, unintended pregnancy. But instead of relishing the day as another musical milestone and a preface to her upcoming album, Sunday In Heaven, Day woke up to the news that the Supreme Court had voted to overturn Roe V. Wade, which federally protected a woman’s right to have an abortion under the constitution.
In the deeply personal indie-folk track, Day’s chilling vocals recount the emotional distress of finding out about the pregnancy alongside an emotionally unavailable, unempathetic partner. “I love how you told me to calm down,” she sings. “How could this happen to me?”
After a weekend of processing the news and sharing resources for women across her social media platforms, the singer-songwriter called AP from Alabama — one of the 13 “trigger states” to enact restrictions on abortion following the ruling — to discuss her new song and her personal relationship with a woman’s right to choose.
You weren’t expecting the Supreme Court to make their ruling the same day as your song was released. What’s been going on in your mind through the weekend?
I was so surprised that the song came out on the same day that the Supreme Court made the decision. Usually, with any type of trauma, my response is to get really quiet and introspective. So, in terms of the song, I haven’t really felt super passionate about promoting it, even though it's very topical. I've just been reading and spending my time reading the news, and really trying to grasp exactly what's happening, and what the next steps are for our country.
Do you have any plans to attend any of the protests?
Yeah, I actually have attended a couple of protests in Austin already. I'm out of town now, but when I get back, I have some groups that I plan on working with who are organizing and marching.
What was the energy like at the events you attended?
It was definitely more controversial. I'm from California, so I've been to plenty of rallies and marches [there]. And it always feels like everyone is on the same page. [The protest in Austin] was the first time I've been in a situation where you had right-wing counter-protesters. They're using intimidation tactics to really scare people to get off the street. I hadn’t really experienced anything like that before.
You mentioned not expecting the song to drop the same day as the verdict. Do you see it changing the impact of the song?
Music and songwriting should be used as a form of healing — whatever it is you need at the time. And so, yes, the song is about my experience in having complications with the pregnancy. It was when I had to make a really important choice for my own sake. At the time of writing it, I could have never guessed that this would actually be the reality that we're standing in today. I'm really grateful that the song has come at a time where it can contribute to the allyship. And I'm hoping that it resonates with anyone that needs to hear a story among so many stories that desperately need to be told right now in a time like this.
What was your experience with your own unintended pregnancy?
[Back when I was 24], I had complications with an early term pregnancy. I was given the choice to decide how I wanted to move forward with my body. I had an ectopic pregnancy, and I was really scared during the whole experience. In the end, I ended up not having as much of a choice and went into an emergency surgery.
So, at the time, you were put into a life or death situation?
I couldn't have imagined being more powerless than I already was. My body was doing something that I didn't really have much control over. The only sense of security that I had was to be able to make a decision to really dictate what would happen with my future. And it really is scary to think that that choice is no longer a guarantee when you're in that kind of clinical situation — or any situation for that matter.
Obviously, the song reads as pro-choice, and you've been very vocal on social media. But could you share your personal stance on abortion and the pro-choice movement?
This is the first time in history where a constitutional right has been added and retracted. And I feel like everyone should be concerned about a federal law that encourages equality being stolen away from the people. I'm deeply saddened when I think about how much pain and suffering women have already gone through, and the impact that this is going to have on so many. I really believe we deserve better.