Despite, or - come to think of it - perhaps thanks to the fact that Swedes, in general, don't do much record shopping (it's all about streaming over there), when The 405 takes Robyn-protégé and new favourite popstrel, Zhala, to Sister Ray in Soho for an afternoon of buying physical audibles, she has a constant look of a child in a toy store. Every two minutes or so her eyes light up, as she spots an album by a beloved artist. To be fair, Sister Ray is a bit of a treasure trove and you're unlikely to leave the premises without some loot.

"I listen to SoundCloud a lot," she explains, "that's how I listen to music mostly, so I was worried that I wouldn't find anything that I am into right now. I love playlists and that has always been my thing. But, at the same time, I'm a huge consumer so as soon as I get into a record shop I go nuts and want to buy everything. I want to have everything."

Visiting London to promote her mighty self-titled debut (out now), Zhala strikes us as a genuine music lover, not one of those musicians who never bothers to listen to anything outside their studio time. And her influences and loves are wide-ranging - she is obsessed with dance and techno, yet it's the latest Tame Impala that is currently receiving her undivided attention.

On her own album, she claims to have a lot of favourite songs. "I particularly love 'Holy Bubbles' and, actually, 'Slippin Around' is very special to me, it's the song that started it all. We have a deep connection," she laughs.

The 405 allows Zhala five vinyl picks from Sister Ray's stock and her choices are as eclectic as they are interesting. Below you can see what records she opts for and find out why.


Record Shopping With Zhala

Madonna - 'Nothing Really Matters' (12" Single, 1999)

As we enter Sister Ray, Zhala forewarns us that she's going to have to find something from Madonna's Ray Of Light. When she homes in on 'Nothing Really Matters' she is ecstatic.

"I love this song, I love that whole album a lot and I love the sound she was going with on it. I think that even though Madonna is... whatever she is today, she is really good at writing pop melodies - they've inspired me so much. The video is fucking amazing. I actually watched it last week. It's so good."

The 405 asks whether she would ever consider covering this song. "I don't think so," she says. "I just think that it wouldn't fit my voice. I have a hard time covering my favourite songs because I have so much respect for them so I don't feel like I'm allowed to. But I guess it's an interesting way to connect with people who have the same taste."


Record Shopping With Zhala

Michael Jackson - Bad (LP, 1987)

Zhala seeks out the Michael Jackson vinyl section and ends up pondering whether to go for Dangerous or Bad, ultimately ending up with the latter.

"I actually prefer the artwork for Dangerous because there's a lot of stuff to look at. It kind of reminds me of the video for 'Leave Me Alone' and its aesthetic and I like that. I think 'Leave Me Alone' is my favourite Michael Jackson song, actually. 'Smooth Criminal' is great as well. You know, I love hits, I'm definitely a hits person. I'm a sucker for that. And Bad is just full of hits, every song is a hit. But that's Michael Jackson for you. I grew up thinking he was a god or something."


Record Shopping With Zhala

Various Artists - Decon/Recon/1 (12" EP, 2015)

In some respects, Zhala is very much a contemporary of the likes of Planningtorock, The Knife and rRoxymore, whom she is a big fan of. Decon/Recon brings together not only Jam Rostron (appearing under the pseudonym Aquarian Jugsa) and rRoxymore but also Olof Dreijer (appearing as Oni Ayhun) and Paula Temple (appearing as Jaguar Woman). These artists are credited on the cover without direct authorial links with the tracks, so that the listener can, essentially, listen without prejudice. Zhala is excited by this idea.

"I know Olof and we move in similar circles. I don't think what we do sound the same but we are in the same queer circle and I'm always really curious about the things they do. They have a great collective going on and they all sound fantastic and make great music. I love the idea of them releasing a record together without you knowing who does what - that's exciting. And I love techno pop! If I'm at a club, techno and acid are my favourite types of music. I didn't realise this was out already - Olof showed me pictures of it but I thought it was coming out in a few weeks. So I'm happy to be able to buy it now."

The 405 asks whether she would ever work with any of them. "For sure! I mean, if it worked out, then yes, of course", she grins. "I love Olof and Karin's energy. They're great people and I love that they're queer. That sounds so stupid but I feel a connection to what they do and what they stand for, their approach. They inspire me. And I love Planningtorock. Maybe I will work with her. Why not! You never know. I've actually thought about it before because I like her and she likes me. But I guess you never know how it would work out, if the sounds would work together. She's a super-open person and so nice and I feel like she's also very wide open. That's what I like about them - they're techno pop but they're also really wide in terms of their influences. You can tell that they listen to music from all over the world and it comes out in their music."


Record Shopping With Zhala

Millie and Andrea - Drop The Vowels (LP, 2014)

Choosing the work of yet another collective (with 'Millie' being Miles Whittaker and 'Andrea' being Andy Stott), Zhala seems passionate about Stott's work.

"I've been wanting to buy this record for a while now. I love Andy Stott's music. Before it first came out someone sent me some tracks and I liked the darkness and roughness of it and I got stuck on it. I couldn't get it on Spotify so I had to find it on other channels and, yeah, I've wanted to buy it for some time. So this is a very good find."


Record Shopping With Zhala

Tame Impala - Lonerism (LP, 2012)

"It's my favourite band right now and has been for the last year. I just think they are the new Beatles. When Beatles were at their best, you know, psychedelic and great. I think they're so interesting and it's a classic album in... I'm not sure what genre it is, pop rock? Future pop! It's super contemporary and I love the mix of what they do. The melodies go straight into my heart. I would listen to the whole album on repeat, I'm really obsessed with the whole record. But my favourite, favourite right now is actually 'Let It Happen'. I'm posting it everywhere. I'm obsessed with it."


Record Shopping With Zhala
Record Shopping With Zhala
Record Shopping With Zhala
Record Shopping With Zhala
Record Shopping With Zhala
Record Shopping With Zhala

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