Brandy Zdan explored indie-pop atmospherics to great effect on 2018’s Secretear. Now the Canadian-born singer-guitarist is following up the LP with what she’s calling her “Cover Single Series” — a collection of cover songs that Zdan has been weaving into her live show for the past two years. Up first is Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which Zdan recreates as an atmospheric swoon.
“I choose covers that I can make my own and put my own stamp on,” she says. “The version on the recording is similar to how it’s done live. I’ll do it solo a lot and people don’t know what it is. They hear the first couple lines and are like, ‘I think I know this.’ Then they go crazy and end up singing along. It’s a great way into my other material.”
Set for release on September 6th, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” sets the stage for Zdan’s other entries in the “Cover Single Series.” She has plans to release versions of the Beatles’ “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” (originally recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells in 1967), and possibly something by her fellow Winnipegger, Neil Young.
“He’s a musical hero of our time, just like Joni Mitchell is. They don’t give a fuck. They’re true artists and that’s what I aspire to. I want to remain true to my vision, and protect it to a fault,” she says.
She’s equally passionate about the vision of other female artists and sees a major void when it comes to women producers. At 35, Zdan just recently completed work on her first album as a producer, the full-length debut from Kelly Hoppenjans.
“There is something about a woman’s voice as a producer, or as an engineer, that is a special quality. There is an instinct there,” Zdan says. “I just recently met Linda Perry, which was incredibly inspiring. She kicked me in the ass in terms of needing to hear some things. No disrespect to men, but men are so willing to say they are something before they’re qualified to do so. Women need to feel like we deserve a title before we say it. But I knew I could [be a producer]. We just have to start calling ourselves the things we are, even before we are them.”
Zdan, who is married to Quaker City Night Hawks drummer Aaron Haynes, will perform with Haynes behind her during AmericanaFest in Nashville next week, playing a September 10th showcase at the Basement. She jokes that she’s not really Americana because she uses synths in her music, but she’s not hung up on tags.
Instead, she just wants to create, be it her cover singles, the proper follow-up to Secretear, or a project by an up-and-coming new artist.
Says Zdan: “It’s an über-creative time, in all the ways it can be for a woman right now.”