Painted Zeros Return With Quarantine-Inspired “Break” Video

Photo Credit: Kenneth Bachor

Painted Zeros, the indie-pop project of Brooklyn-based artist and sound engineer Katie Lau, is known for songs full of witty sarcasm and biting social commentary. “Commuter Rage” rails against men who demand emotional labor from women, while “This American Life” paints a grim picture of the empty-feeling lives many live. One tool much of Lau’s music employs is contrast: between angry lyrics and happy-go-lucky melodies; between wholesome-sounding titles and dark subject matter.

Their latest video, for the single “Break,” is no exception, with a series of outdoor images that resemble a nature documentary accompanying lyrics expressing Lau’s feelings of hopelessness in the wake of several breakups.

Lau captured the footage on her iPhone through her window while she was quarantined in her apartment. “Experiencing the natural world primarily through these narrow window-views is a phenomenon particular to NYC and to quarantining, and it can perhaps be seen as an analogue to the kind of introverted depression that inspired the song in the first place,” she says.

Lau started making music using Garage Band when she was a teenager in White Plains, NY. “Growing up in the punk scene was formative for me, and I embraced the ethos of DIY/DIT (do-it-together): the belief in community over corporatism, but also the belief in self-reliance, which was particularly important to me as a queer woman making music,” she says. “I wanted to hear more narratives like my own in an overwhelmingly male-dominated world.”

She became a full-time sound engineer after college, and in 2014, she started Painted Zeros — a name inspired by the Sonic Youth lyric, “He acts the hero / We paint a zero on his hand.” She explains the moniker: “I was attracted to the idea of a painted zero representing defiance, a rejection of power structures.”

“Break” is off Lau’s second full length album, When You Found Forever, out May 29 on Don Giovanni Records. The album also deals with recovery from alcohol and substance abuse, toxic relationships, and self-destructive tendencies. To Lau, the record’s two sides represent the journeys through these difficult times, and ultimately past them. It’s her first full-length since 2015’s Floriography.

When You Found Forever acts in some ways as a document of the past three years of my life,” she explains. “I kind of crashed and burned around the end of 2016/beginning of 2017 and hit this dark rock bottom. Thanks to the help of so many incredible, patient friends and loved ones, I was lucky enough to get into recovery, and through ongoing spiritual and emotional growth, have entered into a period of my life with more hopefulness and love and levity than ever before.”
Lau’s music has historically blurred much of her vocals in the vein of shoegaze and ’90s screamo. “When I mixed Floriography, my first full-length, I thought in particular of one of my favorite bands from when I was a teenager, Saetia, whose music really requires you to read the lyrics to understand what they are saying,” she explains. “Their lyrics were interesting, and it was so surprising to me when I learned what the vocalist was saying — it felt like I had unlocked a second, deeper layer of meaning and engagement with their songs. I don’t think that mix choice was working for my own music, though.” For her new album, she made a conscious effort to make the vocals louder and more audible. “I don’t want to hide my words,” she says. “I want to connect with people.”
Follow Painted Zeros on Facebook for ongoing updates.

RSVP HERE: Bad Waitress play Mercury Lounge + MORE

Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

photo credit: Michael Amaral

I first heard about Bad Waitress from a friend who described their live set as “a 100mph party train ride,” and they have been on my radar to see their next grand return to NYC ever since. Hailing from Toronto, ON, Bad Waitress are Canada’s premiere alt-punk party band consisting of Kali-Ann Butala (vox/guitar), Katelyn Molgard (guitar), Nicole Cain (bass) and Eva Moon (drums). Today they have released “That Sedative,” their first single and video since 2018 (watch below), and this week they will be rocking NYC at Mercury Lounge on January 22nd with Castle Rat and Old Lady. We chatted with them about their experiences touring in the US vs. Canada and their upcoming trip to Las Vegas.

AF: What is the difference between touring in Canada vs touring the US?

BW: US has shorter drives… and a lot of signs for selling fireworks and Jesus.

AF: What are your favorite cities to play in the US and Canada? What’s the craziest drive you’ve ever done on tour? Craziest tour story in general?

BW: It’s hard to choose really! Every city has its own place in our hearts but so far Detroit, Brooklyn, and Montreal have been major highlights. Our craziest drive hands down was straight from Toronto to Saskatoon which lasted 32 hours. Still have nightmares of that… woof!

We have so many crazy stories. One that sticks out is the mysterious black eye Kali got after our weekend playing Fest in Gainesville. Still don’t know to this day! Playing Crystal Lake fest two years ago was insane too. Katelyn met a woman who was former world champion body builder and ended up crashing at a Christian retreat owned by said body builder’s father while Kali disappeared into the woods while on acid to softly fall asleep in a nest of pine needles.

AF: You’re playing Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas next May. What bands are you most excited to see? 

BW: We’re definitely stoked for Lunachicks. They are clearly a huge inspiration for our drummer Eva’s fashion sense. Haha. Also Cock Sparrer and Propaghandi.

AF: What other plans do you have for 2020 post-record release?

BW: We are playing at the Mercury Lounge in Manhattan January 22 and also playing New Colossus in Brooklyn in March as well as SXSW and Pouzza in Montreal! So much to do!

RSVP HERE for Bad Waitress, Castle Rat, and Old Lady @ Mercury Lounge on 1/22. 21+ / $10 / Early Show (6:30pm)

More great shows this week:

1/17 Big Bliss, Parlor Walls, Painted Zeros, Free $$$ @ Alphaville. 21+ / $10-12 RSVP HERE

1/18 Nation of Language, Lou Tides, and Cutouts @ Baby’s All Right. 21+ / $10-12 RSVP HERE

1/18 NY Night Train Soul Clap & Dance-Off with Jonathan Toubin and Lenny Kaye @ Market Hotel. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE

1/18 The Hum Presents: Greta Kline (of Frankie Cosmos), Jillian Medford (of Ian Sweet), Emily Yacina @ National Sawdust. 21+ / $18 RSVP HERE

1/18 YACHT, Juiceboxxx @ Rough Trade. 21+ / $17-20 RSVP HERE.

1/19 Caroline Polachek (solo keyboard set + signing) @ Rough Trade. All Ages / Free / 2pm / RSVP HERE

1/21 Frankie Rose, Brandy @ Union Pool. 21+ / Free RSVP HERE

1/23 Water From Your Eyes, Sean Henry, Shadow Year, Sourdoe @ Trans-Pecos. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE 


AudioFemme’s Guide To Northside Festival 2016


It’s that time of year again- Northside Festival is back in Brooklyn, and while you’ve probably heard about high profile artists like Conor Oberst and Brian Wilson playing in McCarren park, or Deradoorian covering Black Sabbath at Rough Trade, here’s ten other shows you shouldn’t miss.


  • Cloud Becomes Your Hand @ AVIV

    Cloud Becomes Your Hand makes slightly weird, unapologetically different music that sounds like it came from a different world. Or, if you go by the band’s own description, “a renaissance faire acid trip underwater in grandma’s winnebago.” Stream their latest release, Rest In Fleas, here.

  • Very Fresh @ Bar Matchless

    Cindy Lou Gooden fronts the Brooklyn band Very Fresh, which plays 90’s inspired alternative rock. It’s a little reminiscent of Speedy Ortiz, but with a lo-fi twist.


  • Yonatan Gat @ Baby’s All Right

    This amazing guitarist brings the energy of punk rock to improvisational music, creating a seamless blend of genres and moods that vary from jazzy to psychedelic within seconds. Check out Director here.

  • PWR BTTM @ The Lyft Stage (Williamsburg Walks, 4pm)

    This free event takes place on Bedford Avenue and N. 5th Street and on Saturday will feature acts Petal, Benny Sings, Pity Sex- and of course PWR BTTM, who needs no introduction; their glittery reputation precedes them wherever they go.

  • Yowler – National Sawdust

    From Ohio, Yowler creates pop music that recalls the hazy aftermath of a dream you can’t quite remember- meaning, it’s really pretty, ok? Catch them at the stunning new venue National Sawdust.


  • Haybaby @ Aviv (3pm)

    Sometimes the only way to talk about a band is to quote directly from their bio: “Haybaby is a band of total babes that play honey-ass heartbreak crooning sometimes screamy sludgy pop & slop rock that will make you have some feelings.” If that’s not enough, check out “Joke/Rope.”

  • Bambara @ Palisades

    This Brooklyn rock band plays tunes that are dark and sinister, yet somehow irresistible as well. Catch them at Palisades before they leave for a mini tour of the Northeast.