Thursday, January 10, 2013

Interview with Zoe Viccaji

Zoe Viccaji is not an unknown name in music scenario of Pakistan. She is a gifted singer and a painter based out of Karachi. She earned fame very quickly through her consistent performance as a vocalist in the last three years. Her career came to boom when she was picked by Rohail Hayyat for Coke Studio – Season 3.  She later performed in Coke Studio - Season 4 and 5. Her soft and soothing voice left a spellbinding impact on many listeners and her acceptance as an accomplished singer has been touching new heights since then.

Recently, she did few jingles and an OST for drama serial Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay (sequel to PTV classic Tanhaiyan) which turned out as an instant hit. She is not stopping here and is fully geared up to continue experimentation with her voice and the kind of music she does. She has also been fortunate to work with three legends: Rohail Hayyat, Shahi and Aamir Zaki.

I got a chance to interact with her lately and thought of sharing my insights about her as a person and as a singer. Here is brief question and answer session for you to read and enjoy:

Who is Zoe? Tell us something about her.
I’ve never really been able to put my finger on that one. Zoe is just another human being who loves living and doing what she does with passion. Random thoughts - she loves animals, is a bit of a tom-boy, and loves Haleem.

Who did choose your name and what is the meaning of it?
My mum and dad did. I sometimes think they turned to the last page of the “baby-names” book and chose the last name. Zoe means life.

Zoe with her guitar

Where did you get your basic and higher education and how did you develop taste for the music? Who were your inspirations at early age?
I’ve been in Pakistan right up to the age of 19, and then did my bachelors in New York. My taste of music I think has a lot to do with the stuff my parents used to listen to: The Beatles, Abba, musical scores, all the old greats like Ella Fitz Gerald, Tina Turner, Louis Armstrong and many many more… I guess then while you’re growing up, it’s just a mix of all the stuff you hear along the way. More recently my involvement with Coke Studio has given me a new-found appetite for eastern music. Ella Ftz Gerald, Sarah Machlachlan, and Sajjad Ali have been my inspirations.

When did you make your mind to take music as a career and how was the reaction of your family?
I did that just recently in 2010. My father was a little afraid of how I would sustain myself financially but other than that they’ve been very supportive and happy for me. Even now after a TV interview my dad calls me to tell me how I did!

Being a shy person, how do you manage to gather so much courage to sing so well in front of so many people?
I don’t really think I’m a shy person anymore. With age, I’ve overcome that awkward space. I think the more people there are and the more encouraging they are, that just gives me the boost to deliver on stage. But to this day I get nervous before a show, and bang in the middle of the second song the tide changes, and I feel pretty confident.

You have been fortunate to work with two ex-members of the leading band Vital Signs. How was your experience of working with Rohail Hayyat and Shahi?

They’re both very different producers, but I’ve learnt a lot from each of them. They are both people who approach their work with great passion and resolve, and I think that has made me a much stronger artist now.

Apart from music, what else keeps you occupied?
I’m generally a sporty person. I run regularly, and play football every now and then. But of recent I’ve become addicted to yoga. When I’m not doing music I’m either with my family or friends just relaxing.  P.S I love the beach.

Which is your most favorite song these days?
It’s an old song called Boat Behind by Kings of Convenience. Beautiful.

Most of your songs have soft melodies. Don’t you think you should experiment with rock, classical and other types of music too?
I have, and that’s what the album is for. Unfortunately even though the album has been ready for over 5 months now, the whole process of signing and releasing an album takes a bit of time. The album is my little experiment with all the genres of music that I’ve loved, so you should hear quite a mix.

I have read somewhere that you write and compose songs yourself. Don’t you find it challenging and time consuming knowing the fact that you can rather rely on people specialized in these fields and focus on the singing part?
It’s the part I like the best. Writing and composing songs is the birth-place of a thought or emotion and its so much more rewarding to sing a song from its inception to the finished piece- right through production in fact. And I generally don’t like relying on other people. 

What is the status of your most awaited album? What is the thought behind it and message for the listeners?
 Its in the process of being released- no dates yet, but March I hope. The thought behind it is that life is transient and ever changing, and my coming to terms with that. One of the songs is even the first song I ever wrote when I was sixteen, so the songs take quite a journey.

Many singers have raised their voice on social issues through music. Do you have any plans to take benefit of your voice to reach out the whole nation with your message?
Yes I do, and its going to be a message that I need the right time for.

What is your resolution for this year?
To put more of my efforts towards making other people happy. I think I was a bit selfish in 2012.

What is your message to readers of this interview?
Learn to love yourself, and treat yourself to the kind of life that makes you happy rather that keep up with other people’s expectations.

This interview was conducted on Jan 9, 2012. Please leave your comments here or contact on Twitter by following @faisalriaz.
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