What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.
On the grill
Who are you
I am an Ethiopian-born, Canadian-raised singer-songwriter from Whistler, BC. Last year, I debuted my first track, “Nomad”, produced by Chin Injeti (Eminem, Drake, Kanye) and Brian West (Nelly Furtado, K’naan, Bono). Since the Summer of 2022, I have released seven singles. On August 8, I put out “Atlantic Times”, a single from my upcoming album, and performed it at Honey Jam in Toronto! I’m excited to share what I’ve been working on, and I can’t wait to perform more songs from my album. It’s been a wonderful experience getting to songwrite with friends (Elliott Beenk, Devan, Kyra Mastro, Mr Hudson) and travel for this project.
I remember we had this green John Deere wagon my sibling and I would use to pull each other around in. Sometime in 2007, my mom had this idea to pull us in the wagon to the base of Blackcomb for the World Ski & Snowboard Festival. I don’t remember all the details because it was during my first year in Canada—I was quite young at the time—but I know we had an insane amount of fun watching K’naan and Stephen Marley perform. Long story short, everything came full circle when, years later, I met one of my producers, Brian West, who had worked on a K’naan album that I listened to often while growing up!
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in love or obsessed with music; I started playing around the age of eight and bounced between a few instruments for a couple years before settling on the piano and, later on, the guitar. That being said, I was very inspired when I saw Stephen Marley and K’naan in 2007. I also saw Charles Bradley the year before he passed away, and I was enthralled.
Top three records
J. Cole 2014 Forest Hill Drive Much of my taste in music comes from my family, but eventually, I created my own soundtrack for my youth. J. Cole was the start of my exploration. I used to hear him on the Oahu radio station “Power 104.3”—they played a lot more Black music than I was used to, which was something I was craving. But it wasn’t until I got my first headphone set that I got to delve into J. Cole’s catalogue uninterrupted. I felt like I had my own world, gazing through the window as a 12-year-old watching the Tantalus glacier pass by with the lines, “Don’t be sleeping on your level/’Cause it’s beauty in the struggle” while driving up and down the Sea-to-Sky highway for piano lessons.
Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires Of The City Vampire Weekend was always playing in the household—it was our staple band, and we couldn’t get enough of them. I absolutely love Ezra Koenig’s vocal performances and lyrics—my favourite being, “The gloves are off/the wisdom teeth fell out/What you on about?” Vampire Weekend’s music makes me think of canoeing in the summer, bushwhacking through long treks, and living room dances with the family.
070 Shake You Can’t Kill Me While this came out in 2022, 070’s record has inspired me as a musician—I love all her songs’ textures, softness, razor edges, and deep metaphors. The first song I heard was “Skin and Bones”—the synths, cut of programmed drums, and devil-may-care attitude mixed with Danielle Balbuena’s vocals. It was all so addictive and vibrant. 070’s fearlessness and experimentation had me finding new elements in each song after every listen; the depth in her lyrics and production had me captivated. Especially on “Blue Velvet”—that was something else!
All-time favourite video
Outkast “Hey Ya!” I would watch this all the time on the weekends—the first time I saw it I would have been six, and by the time I got to middle school, it would be a treat for when I finished my maths tests or had to study again.
What’s in your fridge
Trader Joe’s Habanero Hot Sauce. My family and I have literally dedicated whole conversations to this bottle of hot sauce. I don’t think we have a meal without mentioning or addressing our current state of Trader Joe’s hot sauce—we’ll literally ask, “Where’s Joe?”
Burndo Awaze Sauce. As an Ethiopian, I struggle not to add this sauce to every meal. My favourite way to have it is with scrambled eggs, toast, and spinach. My family and I came across Brundo Spice Company and have never looked back; I’ve got to get more because I’ve run out. Thankfully, my spice cupboard has berbere (my second favourite), which is holding me down for the moment.
Starter for sourdough. My mom makes fresh sourdough—it’s incredible and is perfect with almost everything. Usually, I open the fridge and see this mason jar of starter tucked in the corner—we call it “the baby” because you can’t close the lid, and you have to feed the starter. Plus, if you leave it for too long on its own, it will make a mess.
ZADA's new single, “Sweet Things In Life”, is out now and is streamable here.