Electro-pop newbies Arizona have had a whirlwind year, between releasing their debut album, Gallery (May 19) supporting Kevin Garrett and Coin on their respective North American tours, and playing festivals like SXSW (Austin, TX) and Governors Ball (NYC).
As they get ready to take on a fully-packed summer of festivals and touring, Billboard sat down with the guys — Zach Hannah (lead vocals), Nate Esquite (guitar), and David Labuguen (keys) — to learn more about their individual styles, the band’s aesthetic, and how they cope with the music industry’s beauty standards.
How would you each describe your individual style, and how do your styles mesh together as a band?
David Labuguen: For me personally, my style is classic and relaxed. I really love well-made basics. I want something I can live in. Occasionally I’ll layer something to add a statement piece, but generally, I live in my staples.
Nate Esquite: I haven’t really put much thought into my style. I just try to keep it very punk rock, you know?
Zach Hannah: I try to fall somewhere in between “dad” and “space cowboy,” if that makes sense. (I know it doesn’t.) I love going to thrift stores and finding really cool 90’s or throwback items that have a “dad” vibe. I’m not afraid of L.L. Bean. [Laughs.] At the same time, I really enjoy things that are currently fashionable. Like, I think All Saints is cool. I just want a nice mix of things. I like ponchos and I’m definitely not afraid of hats.
I think all together, our style onstage is very reflective of who we are. Like our music and our show, [our collective style] is really about our energy — for us, it’s not really about what it looks like, but rather, what it feels like.
You’ve put a heavy emphasis on your band’s minimalist aesthetic, specifically with your album art, logo design, and social media presence. How has your style, both individually and as a band, impacted that direction?
DL: I design the graphics and generally manage our visual aesthetic as a brand, so it’s very personal for me. The minimalist aspect of our design with all of our text, I think comes from me. I also tend to make our images feel very lo-fi and gritty, which I think speaks to Nate and Zach’s aesthetics as well. The mixture of sleek, clean design and Helvetica font [paired with] the images [having] a very musical, low-fi vibe really speaks to us as a group.
ZH: I also think that being the kind of best friends that we’ve been for so long, we have traded our trends with each other, between what we appreciate aesthetically in design and physically with our own fashion pieces; there’s definitely a few pieces that we’ve shared and passed along through the band. The mesh ends up happening because we’re all so close.
Where do you get your style inspiration from?
DL: I typically browse a lot of Pinterest. I also have a lot of friends who dress a lot cooler than I do [laughs], so I follow all of their Instagrams for inspiration. It’s kind of funny, because I’m also very frugal, so what I’ll do is look at really high-end looks and sort of translate them to cheaper pieces.
ZH: Growing up, I spent some time around editorial and fashion photography working as a production assistant for a photographer named Dallas Logan, who did a lot of editorial shooting. I learned a lot about out-there, crazy fashion and how it’s all put together. That circle of people taught me a lot about fashion, and while I’ve kept [my own personal style that already existed], they helped me be less afraid and not care as much [about looking crazy and trying new things].
NE: For me, I’ve never really put too much thought into [fashion] because it’s kind of a subconscious thing for me. I just have one thing: I just try to be more and more like Jimi Hendrix every day.
You’ve said before that none of you look like the average pop star. Oftentimes, the music industry emphasizes certain body types as “ideal” for all genders. How do you all navigate that?
DL: I think that the best style for anyone is what they’re most comfortable in. Regardless of body type, people look best when they are themselves. Everything about Arizona is [based on] authenticity. We love being [body]-positive, we love people of all shapes and sizes. I mean, I think Zach looks sexy all the time.
We’re definitely not playing toward any sort of ideal [body type]. We’re being ourselves, and we want to encourage others to be themselves, too. We want them to know that they’re beautiful just as they are.
ZH: People expect certain things of people in the arts and industries where you’re more visible. There’s definitely a trend among influencers: certain types of images, styles, body types… But at the end of the day, what really fuels us isn’t really our aesthetic — whether it’s our design, or what we wear, or even who we are as people. We’ve always wanted to take attention away from the aesthetic and put it onto the final product, which is the music and art we create. The aesthetic is just supposed to be something like sprinkles on ice cream.
If we’re going to promote any kind of image or ideal, I don’t think we’d like it to be something that is widely known as cool or the best or sexy. I think we’d like to promote that you have one life to live, and you can choose to live it however you’d like. I think being healthy is important, being happy is important, and doing what you love is important. Whatever that looks like to you, that’s what it should be.