Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ZE! WHAAAAAAAAT?


Ze! is a 20 something Electropop / Dirty Disco songstress, originally from Kuala Lumpur but now based in London. I'm not to sure how I first stumbled upon her myspace page but I'm bloody glad I did. Starting out her career as a rapper in an RnB trio, Ze! (pronounced Zay) decided to fly solo and released her first EP in '03. With a sound as diverse as her musical influences she's bound to appeal to everyone from indie kids to club heads. A quick listen to tracks like "Boys I Like" and my personal favorite "Professional Bitch" shows how versatile this girl is, not something you can say about a lot of emerging artists these days.
Coupling her music skill with a clothing label she co-runs with her sister called Osixnine (the label's called Osixnine, not her sister) and a style M.I.A. would be jealous of I'm predicting some fairly big things for Ze! in 2009.
Taking a break from some shows in Brussels, Ze! was kind enough to have a chat with Mr.Jones.

Shortie: Give us a quick introduction for the uninitiated.
Ze!: Hello, I’m Ze and I sing electropop.

S: Malaysia to the UK… How did that happen?
Z: It came about out of frustration; I was not satisfied and wasn’t getting what I wanted from the music scene back in Kuala Lumpur. It took me 2 years to plan the trip to UK, and I went with no expectations but with 100% commitment and determination. I have spent some time with my producer in Brussels before and decided to make London my base because I felt that would put me in the centre of things. And I have no regrets.

S: You've had some pretty big success and accolades in Asia, was the move necessary to break out on the European scene?
Z: Absolutely. Mostly, I was simply following my instincts which were strongly telling me it was necessary if I seriously want to continue doing my thing. I feel that in Asia it is too much about copying what other people are already doing and I was out wanting to be different which doesn’t work very well in this region. I guess I am happy to have found that there is space for me in Europe 

S: I'm gonna draw a few comparisons here, vocally Madonna, musically Santogold and stylistically M.I.A. It's a unique mix and something that seems to be working. Does it bother you being compared to others?
Z: It is a huge compliment to even be compared to 3 of my biggest influences. I do think that although we might be similar, mostly because I am also targeting the same group of listeners, but I think I do have my own approach music and style-wise. It is natural for people to first compare you to artists they are already familiar with before learning how to distinguish you from everybody else, and I am absolutely okay with that.

S: You're currently running your own clothing label along with your
sister, which comes first fashion or music?

Z: That is a tough question. But then again, no matter how good your image is, if your music sucks, you suck. So, I’ll say the music comes first.

S: How important is your style to your music?
Z: Since I have a producer to help me with my music, I have more time to also think about my style – which I think plays a huge part. On my myspace for example, I put a lot of time in it. Because like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover. On top of that, with the kind of music I make and the lyrics I write, the image needs to be just as powerful to compliment it.

S: So you don’t produce your own stuff?
Z: No, I write my songs and they are produced by my Brussels-based producer, Ruben Debusschere. I met him in 2004 when we studied in Australia together; we have been working on music together ever since. He is like, my other half, without which Ze! wouldn’t have existed.

S: What's all this about working on commercials for McDonalds and Toyota?
Z: Lol. I got a part in my first commercial when I was 19, which was to star in a Mcdonalds 3-series long advertisement. It gave me confidence and I was paid good money. I was hooked on going to as many castings as I could, as it was also rare that they look for brown-skinned girls to put on TV so it wasn’t exactly a modelling career. I keep all the money to invest in my music and the clothing line.

S: Have you got a masterplan or just seeing how it goes?
Z: I have a good mixture of both. I do spend a lot of time just planning things, because without it nothing ever happens. But at the same time I am open to taking a different route as long as it leads me towards the right direction.

S: There's a world of difference between some of your tracks like
"Professional Bitch" and "I Am Glam". Is your writing dependant on
your mood or is it the other way around, like do you set out to make a club tune or an electropop tune or whatever?

Z: I am, personally, a very moody person. I have crazy mood swings, and my producer would know all about it. So I think my writing is highly dependant on my mood, I can never force it out of me. But the joy, the anger, the envy, the frustrations, the love and whatever else it is I feel as a normal human being I express, with brutal honesty, through my songs and lyrics. I would never want to make 2 identical songs and have people buy my cd and say ‘her songs all sound the same’. So I’ll take it is a good thing!

Quickfire Questions

Favorite clothing label (not ur own)?
Johnny Cupcakes
Worst tune ever?
Big Big World by Emilie(?) , I don’t know her name but I can never understand how a stupid track like that could become a hit!
Best tune ever?
I don’t know a dance track more influential than Billie Jean.
Favorite movie?
Sound of Music.
Daily Websites?
I’m a gossip whore, I love thesuperficial.com. Cant go a day without it.
What question would you like me to ask you?
Out of all the boys you like, who’s your number one?
Now answer that question.
James McAvoy, in case that isn’t already obvious.
Random piece of information?
I’m a control freak, which is good and bad at the same time.

So that's Ze!.. The girl's got a work ethic matched only in size by her talent, her diversity and her addiction to gossip apparently. She's a surefire hit if you ask me...
Check out Ze!'s myspace to hear some of those tunes and be sure to click on the Osixnine site to sneak a peak at her fashion designs...
Cheers Ze!