Culture Envy: Zinni the Queen

The Vancouver-based indie artist dives into her debut album Four a Season

Zinni the Queen is a Vancouver-based indie artist who released her debut album, Four a Season. (Submitted)

Zinni the Queen is a Vancouver-based indie artist who released her debut album, Four a Season. (Submitted)

Growing up, Zinnia McQueen always felt like she had to choose between academia and pursuing art. But that all changed after she graduated from the University of Victoria with a bachelor of arts in psychology last year. 

After her graduation, she was in a research program and planning to go to grad school. What struck her was when people told her she had to have her own reason for being there. McQueen realized it wasn’t the right path for her and wanted a chance to explore her artistic side. 

Taking on the stage name Zinni the Queen, she began to dedicate her time to learning how to engineer, produce, and mix Four a Season, her debut album which was released on March 2. McQueen used the skills she learned as a student such as time-management, creating an outline, research, and writing to help pursue her new, musical path.

“I have kept it close to my heart until I was ready to share the album,” she says. “It’s a very personal album too. It’s nice when you’re creating it and it’s just for you and only you know about it, [but] it’s also special to share that with the world.” 

The 12 song album dives into two themes that intertwine with one another; the stages of falling in love and how they move like the four seasons throughout the year. 

“There’s the springtime, where everything is new, fresh, and exciting. There’s the summer, where everything is hot and exciting again, and you feel like there’s no time limit on anything, just freedom,” she says. 

“Then there’s the fall where things are kind of getting chilly and it’s like, ‘Which way are things gonna go?’ And then there’s winter where things can feel more dreary [and] feel a bit dark, but then there’s that hope of springtime again.” 

McQueen started writing songs at 10, and by the time she was 18, she realized she had a whole album’s worth of songs. She thought it would be great if she could press play to listen to each song instead of singing them in the shower, and a few years later, that’s exactly what she did.

While the album is personal, she felt comfortable sharing it with the world. 

“What matters most to me is that it resonates with people, and that someone else can just feel seen, heard, and understood,” she says. 

Putting together the songs “(Rec)Over” and “Dance” was the most challenging part of the album as McQueen was writing about a current, personal experience and wasn’t sure what she felt comfortable saying. 

“When I’m performing this live … I’m going to have to relive this moment. So how can I tell this story in a way that’s fair to myself and the other person involved, and doesn’t put me emotionally at harm” she says. 

“That was really tricky to do, but I did find a way to do it. The balance was just being honest and not forcing myself to create in those moments.” 

McQueen says learning how to produce music is important as an artist because she’s able to create music the way she envisions it. 

“Because I’ve actually produced this album, engineered, and mixed it, I know what I want something to sound like,” she says. “It’s empowering to know how to do something yourself.” 

McQueen hopes the album allows listeners to reflect on themselves and the unique process of falling in love. 

“We all have our own preconceived notions on what a romantic relationship should look like,” she says. “I also hope it just increases people’s empathy. I tried to write from different perspectives, and consider different sides of the story.” 

“Whether you’re Black, Indigenous, white, or Asian, we should all be carrying ourselves with dignity and recognizing that we are valuable, we have something important to say. Anyone can be a queen, a king, a ruler, whatever it is. I wanted to embody that myself.” 

Four a Season is available to stream on Spotify or SoundCloud