On the title track to her double single As the Surface Rose, BONZIE builds a beautifully sprawling, hypnotically detailed reverie from what began in the starkest of moments. “‘As the Surface Rose’ was written on this old piano I grew up with, the day before it was going off to someone else,” says Nina Ferraro, a 21-year-old singer/multi-instrumentalist who’s created under the moniker of BONZIE since age 18. “For as long as I can remember, this piano exists in my memories, so I was playing it incessantly before I had to leave it. I was in this unfurnished house—the last bones of the house I grew up in—with literally only myself, this piano, and walls.”
“As the Surface Rose” expands on the surrealist pop first revealed on BONZIE’s debut album, a 2013 effort praised by Spin, Vogue, and Paste. In bringing the song to life, Ferraro collaborated with San Fermin’s Ellis Ludwig-Leone and Blue Hawaii’s Agor Cowan to merge orchestral flourishes with electronic experimentalism. “We recorded strings and horns and piano and came up with this almost classical-sounding recording, then spliced everything up with electronics and completely messed with that,” recalls Ferraro. “I wanted to create a feeling of being lifted from reality, with these small but powerful sounds that shift you in all different directions.” And for the lyric-free B-side “Half Full,” Ferraro recorded at The Loft (Wilco’s famed Chicago studio), sculpting a sparse and dreamlike track woven with choirlike vocals and graceful acoustic guitar.
With As the Surface Rose, BONZIE shows a nuanced musicality honed through a lifetime of self-possessed artistry. Now based in Chicago, Ferraro taught herself to play guitar at age nine and became a fixture on Chicago’s club circuit within a matter of years. Soon releasing her debut album—whose lead single “Data Blockers” was hailed by Spin for its “narrow vocals, wordless refrains, and furious chords”—she captivated audiences with a highly lauded performance at South By Southwest, further establishing herself as a mesmerizing live act (“Delicacy and drama, surrender and anger, made a riveting combination when BONZIE performed,” wrote chief popular-music criticJon Pareles in the New York Times).
BONZIE is now set to release her second full-length, the much-anticipated Zone on Nine. Due out in early 2017, the album was produced by Ferraro herself, along with Jonathan Wilson (Father John Misty, Conor Oberst) and Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, Youth Lagoon).