Pushing even further than last year’s Xeraclius EP, "BOYS LIKE U" sees ZAND embrace warped, industrial sounds, working them into a dramatic backdrop for their power-pop songwriting. Where several tracks on Xeraclius took a moody direction, "BOYS LIKE U" serves up what ZAND's brand now promises – "pitch black pop". With its vocal hovering somewhere between sweetness and a snarl, it’s hard to believe this is the same person who wrote and released folk-inspired synth-pop ditty "Van Gogh" back in 2016 as Seafoal, particularly when distorted to extremes over grinding bass.

"BOYS LIKE U" translates ZAND’s confident approach to songwriting into an anti-love song/kiss-off to entitled creeps best summed up with the taunting title lyric: "I eat boys like you for breakfast". With its gory, fetishistic music video – self-directed and shot by Zak Pinchin – it’s an assured step out in a new, darker direction.

To help get our heads round ZAND's chilling reinvention, we had a chat with them ahead of the new release.

"BOYS LIKE U" is your first release under the ZAND moniker. Why did you pick this track to introduce yourself?

I feel like it's just perfect, you know? As soon as I'd written and recorded it I knew this was the single I wanted to introduce myself properly with. It's raw, tells the story I want it to tell (I hope), and I feel it's an accurate marker for telling the world what to expect from my music. I call "BOYS LIKE U" a feminist foot-stomper for anyone who's ever felt the pitiful wrath of a cis-het [cisgender – i.e. not transgender – and heterosexual] man... I actually wrote it after being groped for the thousandth time on a night out. It's basically just a "fuck off" song aimed at creepy dudes.

You directed the gruesome video for "BOYS LIKE U". What were your aims and intentions when putting the visual together?

You think it's gruesome? That's cool. I don't even know what I think it is. I had a specific vision for the video from the very start – I wanted it generally to be full to the brim with satire, where the characters are a bit odd, interesting and not – shall we say – conventionally appealing. The whole thing is meant to look fake and tacky, but I brought a couple of taboos into the picture for an interesting story. And I wanna start playing with stereotypes, you know?

I'm an ugly popstar making ugly pop music. I don't call myself that because I think I'm gross to look at or that my music is shit, I'm just down for redefining negative words that have been used to insult me in the past because I don't look how the majority of society want me to look, I don't identify with how society wants me to identify, and the shit I'm writing about isn't usually what everyone wants to hear in a pop song (especially the dreaded word "misandry"), or see in a music video. If I'm ugly to people for that then cool, I'm gonna roll with being ugly as fuck.

What's your favourite lyric from the track, and why?

The whole song is my favourite lyric. [laughs] But nah, I think the bridge is my favourite part. While the majority of the song is pretty much fucking with and going off men's pre-conceived notions of women/femmes based on their sexuality, along with their dented masculinity when they're rejected, I feel like the bridge goes in on this. "I know your tears taste the bestest, cos I eat boys like you for breakfast," is a jab at the same men who slutshame you for not wanting to fuck 'em. But it's kinda playing on that like, yeah I know your tears taste good, dude, 'cause I deal with you fuckers all the time. I know how to make you feel like a dumbass. Really though, the lyrics are all down to interpretation and can have multiple meanings. If you get something else from listening to them, then cool.

"BOYS LIKE U" is significantly darker and heavier than your previous releases as Seafoal. Does this reflect the direction you're planning to move in as ZAND?

Absolutely.

Can you tell us a little about what we can expect from you through the rest of 2018?

Lots of music.

“BOYS LIKE U” is out 2 March, and you can read ZAND’s full statement about their name change on Facebook.