Zeph joined Joel Madden on Episode 7 of Artist Friendly. The 23-year-old alt-pop singer spoke about her artistic vision, mental health journey, inspirations, and more on the podcast, which is available now wherever you listen to podcasts. 

As Zeph details on the podcast, the singer-songwriter, who's known for crafting heartfelt DIY pop songs full of word play, began recording music in 2018 while still living in Maryland. Since then, she's moved to LA, released a handful of singles and EPs, toured with acts like Waterparks, and is currently gearing up to release her latest single "like everyone else," which is due March 10. On the podcast, she dives into the progression of her career and a great deal of the pop culture that's informed it, so below, we're breaking down several takeaways from the episode. 

Her mom helped shape her taste in pop culture 

On the podcast, Zeph shares that it was her mom who noticed how musically inclined she was as a child and signed her up for classical piano lessons. Beyond that, her mother was a librarian who helped introduce her to a variety of movies and records that have informed her taste to this day. 

Checking in with her mental health is very important 

Zeph sought out mental health support on her own several years ago after her family didn't see it as necessary and has since found ways to help with her anxiety. Because focusing on her mental health is so important, she says it's often the subject of her songwriting — which is inherently what so many fans have connected to in her music. In fact, she even tells a story that once someone told her that they showed their therapist her songs to explain how they were feeling. 

Zeph cites poet/illustrator Shel Silverstein as one of her biggest inspirations

Zeph's songwriting is known to be full of one-liners and sly in-jokes — so it's no wonder that she cites beloved poet Shel Silverstein as one of her biggest inspirations. In talking about her very funny Twitter presence that's as full of witticisms as her lyrics, Zeph and Madden joke that she should turn her tweets into a book of poetry, leading her to mention Silverstein. It's "funny to think about," she says, but it's all about his style of being "a little goofy" and focusing on "word play" that informs her work. 

She's already had a full-circle moment with one of her favorite artists

Not every musician gets the opportunity to get to know their favorite artists. As Madden asks Zeph who she's the biggest fan of, she lists Owl City, the Band CAMINO, Waterparks, One Republic, Gracie Abrams, early Katy Perry, and more. She also mentions pop artist Jeremy Zucker, who she's a "huge fan" of and has even had a full-circle experience with. She recalls, years ago, "I was begging my sisters to get me his signed vinyl for my birthday, and now I just see him and parties and stuff and we talk." Here's to hoping the next one of her goals — to tour with Owl City — comes true, too. 

Movie scores are incredibly important to her 

As much as Zeph is informed by pop artists and alt music, she also discusses on the pod how much movie scores and soundtracks inspire her. Not only did she listen to them all growing up, she actually originally wanted to be a movie score composer — and it's still one of her "biggest dreams." Even to get her music on a show or movie soundtrack would be huge. She says, "A lot of people tell me that my music sounds like coming-of-age movie soundtracks, and I'm like, 'Yes, I'm doing it right.'" 

She has advice for other aspiring artists

Zeph's advice for people who want to get into music? "Just do it," and "don't be afraid to start small." She says, "I've seen a lot of people stop because they think their stuff isn't good enough to put out," or "think they don't have good enough equipment." She makes a point to say that she began her career singing and playing piano into an Apple earbud mic — implying that even if you have humble beginnings, the results can be limitless. She says, "I've had so many bad set-ups, but it doesn't matter because if you have something to say and you sing and record, people will listen."