Sidetalk co-founder Trent Simonian summed up what Bia brings to a function (besides access to a bus with a DJ rig inside of it): “Anything that Zack Bia is doing, people think is gonna be pretty cool.” In other words, where Bia goes, a crowd follows.
“My path isn’t like, let me go be an internet figure and that’ll translate to real life,” says Bia. “Mine is the opposite, which is a much slower path, but a much more personally impactful one, because mine is like, let me go DJ parties in real life. Let me go shake hands in real life. Let me go be friends with someone. And then that’ll reflect online.”
“I think everyone that knows me personally loves me,” he adds.
After lunch, on a stroll through Dimes Square, a young guy wearing Sambas walks by, before circling back and dapping Bia up. To some people, mostly dudes, Bia—with his relatable physique and neckbeard—is a folk hero of sorts. Still, Bia doesn’t take any of it for granted. “I have to win fans one by one,” he says, after posing, arms crossed, for a photo with the guy.
Recently, the fervent interest in Bia has become more pointed, and his narrative control (or lack thereof) more urgent. This spring, Olivia Rodrigo released “Vampire,” a heartbreak ballad that twists the knife in a manipulative former flame. TikTok Sherlock Holmeses got to work decoding the lyrics. They quickly pointed their fingers at Bia, who dated the 20-year-old pop sensation last year, and put a wooden stake through his heart in countless explainer videos.
On first listen, the lyrics kind of check out. I should’ve known it was strange / You only come out at night was just one piece of evidence used against Bia.
When I bring up the song, Bia thinks for a second before choosing his words. “I don’t think it’s really about me,” he says, evenly. “I think the Internet just ran with it.” Which sounds a lot like what Rodrigo’s blood-sucking ex would say. He concedes that he might be one part of a composite character—“Look, I’m in the industry so I know how a song gets made,” he says—but he also denies that their relationship was breakup-track-worthy. “We hung out, we’re both busy, and we ended up not furthering our relationship. There was never any drama, you know?”