The name Zoya means “Gift of God” in Arabic, and it is completely fitting that this artist got that as her name. She is truly gifted, especially when it comes to music. Unlike other artists, who all seem pretty cookie-cutter these days, Zoya‘s sound is completely different. She is still incredibly young, and shows so much potential in her music already! Zoya is a trained musician who studied at Boston’s Berklee College. Born in India and raised in California, Zoya journey into music followed naturally after she fell in love with the world of dance – learning Indian dance, hip-hop, ballet, and belly dancing. She began writing her own lyrics at the age of 12, and has now become a popular singer in the indie scene. I had a chance to interview this rising star. Read on below for all the details and be sure to check out her official website: zoyamusicofficial.com.
Zoya: Well I collect sounds, moments and words and am most known for putting those collections into song. My music is a blend of folk singer-songwriter music and other sounds I kind of put in my pocket from my travels around the world. Many have called it fusion folk but I agree only to an extent. My sound changes song to song and record to record. For my music, it is all about what sounds I can use- no matter how in or out of the box- that will enhance the lyrics, the message, or the story.
Roopa: These days, it feels like artists are reluctant to experiment and just want to churn out a chart-busting hit. Your sound, however, is very different. What inspired you to become a musician, and what inspires you to write and create music?
Zoya: There is this feeling after you finish a song. I don’t know how to describe it but it is one of the few moments when I am truly happy and proud. I get the same kind of feeling if I finish a painting or another project but the feeling I get from finishing a song contains so much more hope and satisfaction.
A good song is something that can be recycled and re-made over and over again. It can instill the same emotion and message while being reincarnated through live shows, various recordings, and time, itself. It can change someones point of view or help someone realize their potential, what their missing, or just purely relate. Music has this huge potential to change people. To affect people. That feeling and that potential is what inspires me to continue to create.
Zoya: I actually don’t think I realized it until other people started writing about it and telling me what they heard in my music. It was something that I just kind of started doing without my own knowledge. As a kid I was surrounded by Indian music and Indian dance. My father owns a travel company and as a result I travelled to many other countries while growing up. I don’t think I realized the effect it was having on me- musically- until now.
Roopa: It is great that you studied music business at Berklee in MA. Being born and raised in MA, I know how well-known Berklee is. What made you decide to attend college for music and to really take classes and actually spend time to learn more about the field? Most artists these days do not opt to study the business of music, but tend to play it by ear (pun intended), and enter without having completed any serious study of the field.
Zoya: Well Senior year of high school I knew I wanted to go to music school, no doubt. At that point of my senior year of high school I was performing all around Southern California with my old band “A to Z” and was attending Orange County High School of the Arts in the Commercial Voice Conservatory. Deciding to go to Berklee was a no-brainer for me. I applied to many other music schools but when I got the letter that I was accepted to Berklee I didn’t even consider anything else. Music is a constant challenge and I knew Berklee would be a challenge compared to other music schools I looked into. I wanted a challenge and when I went to Boston for the first time it seemed like the perfect city and fit for me.
Roopa: It seems like you are involved in all aspects of making music – creating the sound, writing the lyrics, and playing instruments on the pieces. What is the most challenging aspect of each, and what do you find comes most naturally?
Zoya: Lyrics is always the most challenging. Sometimes it comes real quick and in 10 minutes I have a perfect song that needs no rewriting. On the other hand, sometimes a song can take me a year or two- just to make sure I find the right word or phrase to tie the whole story or message together. The sound, music, and melodies come easiest to me but writing a lyric that I know represents what I am trying to say and that won’t get old after time catches up with it is the biggest challenge.
Roopa: Where do you see yourself going as an artist? I’ve read that you are keen on touring, going to London, and ideally, doing many shows in India. Do you think you may want to score a movie?
Zoya: Well I see myself constantly getting better. I want to really dive deep into training in Northern Indian Classical Music so I can better understand and produce more complex music. I want to tour outside of America and you are definitely right about my plans and hopes to go to India soon.
I don’t see myself scoring a movie but I would absolutely love if one of my songs from any record to be licensed to a movie or tv show. That has been one of my dreams for sure.
Zoya: Right now I am working to finish my full length album titled, “The Girl Who Used To Live In My Room.” It is a compilation of songs paying tribute to the girl i used to be, who i want to be, and who i am now. I am planning to release it in early 2015 and am really excited for everyone to hear it!
Roopa: Any other message for readers of Urban Asian, and individuals who want to break the mold in music?
Zoya: Always make your music for yourself. Don’t waste time thinking about what you should be making so you can sell more records or appeal to the “masses”. Make music and art for yourself. If you make something you are proud of and it charges you emotionally – it will charge someone else and spread on its own. Basically, my advice, is to be you and be always.
Keep it locked to Urban Asian as we bring you all the latest on Indie music’s rising star, Zoya!