Interview By: Nudrat Mustafa
Zoe Viccaji’s down to earth nature & her workaholic personality is an inspiration for all. Let’s read on and see what she had to say…
- Tell us about your initial journey in the industry…
‘I was born in Pakistan, and have spent most of my life in Karachi. My mother has always been very involved in music, playing the guitar from an early age, doing numerous musicals and singing with friends, all of whom either played an instrument or sang as part of a choir. My mother also sang beautifully and I remember her form of entertaining us as kids was to hand us chopsticks to conduct music that she would play. My father, also had some connections to music, he used to play the violin at one point, and his father had a music shop in India- so I guess you could say music has had a strong presence in my family for generations. Right through highschool, I majored in science because I wanted to be a vet, but when I got to college I realized I didn’t have the aptitude for chemistry and began to concentrate on Art which I had always loved. Since it was a liberal arts college in New York, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects along with my Art major- music, theatre sociology, film, literature and so much more.’
- How did music become a part of your life?
I guess you have most of that is answered above. I think picking up the guitar at the age of fifteen gave me the ability to compose my own songs, and perhaps that is where it began.
- Did you take any professional training for it?
Not until recently. Once I got to college, I began taking courses in music, and joined the college choir where we had the most spectacular teacher. After college I continued doing workshops in music and performance, and I supplement my career with regular classes with an ustad now. I love learning.
- Tell us about your experience in ‘Coke Studio’.
That was really long ago- all I can say is it ignited my appetite for indigenous music, and showed me the endless possibilities with cultural music.
- What were the most horrible odds you have fought with, to enter the industry?’
Haha I wouldn’t say horrible- but something I continue to find difficult is putting original music out there. When I release a cover it gets so much attention, but the attention a fresh song receives pales in comparison. Still, I continue to release new songs every few months because it keeps me going creatively.
- Who has been your inspiration in the music industry? Why?
When I was 14, a friend of mine introduced us to Sarah McLachlan. When I heard her album Mirror Ball, I knew music had immense power to express, and I wanted to be part of that world.
- Do you plan to experiment in acting or directing/producing?
Yes, I have been into production for a while now, and theatre/acting has always been a part of my life. My dream would be to do an original musical which brings together everything I love.
- You have studied abroad; was it difficult to move back to Pakistan? What basically made you decide that you need to go back to Pakistan?
Yes I went to New York for college (with a year at the Glasgow School of Art)- moving there was much tougher than moving back. I have always been attached to home, and was thrilled to come back- so there was never the question of not coming back.
- How much importance you give to professional singing training?
I think one can learn a lot on their own, and it’s great to start there so you can find your own path. Professional training isn’t a must if you are an extremely driven person and find ways to further your art and skill, but personally I have gained a lot from having a teacher. It helps to have an outsider’s ear.
- Do you think there are next to no singing/music academies in Pakistan? Are they important? Give your stance on it.
There definitely isn’t enough! And I believe music must be made a more integral part of school curriculums. Even if one doesn’t go into music professionally, I think we’d all be more rounded as individuals with a deeper exposure to art and music.
- Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
When I first started writing and composing it was in English, so my focus now is to wrap up production on those songs which I started and putting them out. There are quite a few projects on the back burner- so much to do!
- How do you maintain a balance between your personal and professional life?
I think I’ve only just found the balance. I make lots of lists /goal sheets to keep my head in order and make sure to not burn myself out.
- A lot of your fans are eager to know that is marriage somewhere near in cards?
I know it’s something I want and will happen, and it will happen when it happens. Haha nice and elusive I am!
- What qualities you would like to have in your life partner?
For me honesty and good intent is integral. Someone who is kind to both humans and animals and has consideration for others as he does for himself. I believe someone who matches me in being an adventurous soul, loves the outdoors and health would be fun to have as my other half. With the kind of career I have, it would need to be someone who understands what I do, and be comfortable with my passion and obsession with what I do, and be equally driven about his own work and dreams. The list goes on, but these are among the top.
- What advice you would like to give to the aiming singers who look up to you as their inspiration?
Find your passion and chase it like there’s no tomorrow. If someone tries to take it away from you or discourage you, stand strong because only you know what is good for your soul.
- Quick choose round:
- Organic or Junk food? Organic- junk only as a guilty pleasure now and then
- IPhone or Samsung? Iphone
- Facebook or Instagram? Instagram
- Karachi or Lahore? karachi
- Coke or Pepsi? Neither
- Day or night? Day
- Cats or dogs? Both
- Book or movie? Movies
- Sports or games? Sports
- Laughter or smile? A bit of both