Monday, October 08, 2018

10 Questions For: ZOË


She is a complete artist – she is a great singer, and also a great songwriter. As a singer, we have no doubt: she has one of the sweetest voices of European music. And, after this interview, we now know the voice is an extension of the person, as she is extremely sweet herself! These are our 10 questions for ZOË:

Sounds European!: You have been singing since you were a little girl. How did you start it? And who were your inspirations at such an early age? Going further, you come from a musical family. What was (and is) your family's role in your relationship with music?

ZOË: I grew up with music all around me, since my father is a musician and has had his studio at home. To me, being a singer, being a musician, has always been something "normal" and not out of the ordinary. So my first dream job, at the age of three, was becoming a pianist. At the age of four, it changed into becoming a professional opera singer, since my grandfather had shown me "The magic flute", by Mozart, and I sang the "Queen of the night" aria all day long. Thankfully, my parents have always been very supportive of my ambitions, but never pushing me into something. So when I was 10 years old, I wanted to participate in a singing contest for children. They told me to think about it very carefully, but if it truly was my wish, they would support me in every way.

SE!: All the songs from your first studio album, "Debut", were written in French. It is an interesting choice – and even unique, we'd say, as Austrian artists usually sing in German or English. Why did you choose French? And are we correct in saying that it is possible to feel a French influence, besides the language, in the musical style of the album, too?

Z: When I first started writing music together with my father, it was just for fun and we didn't plan or even think about all of the things that would or could happen – we were just happy creating something creative. I went to a French school in Vienna, as well as my father many years before me, so we both speak French fluently. That one evening of our first songwriting session, I just came home from school. He took the guitar, played some chords and I sang along... in French! I suppose that those French lyrics came because I still had my whole school day in my head, and somehow it fit. So we decided that maybe we should just follow our instincts and write in French.
About the musical style, I actually don't really know if language and style worked together, but the spirit of the first album was very much influenced by the gipsy swing style.

SE!: After a first try in 2015, you were chosen to represent Austria on Eurovision in 2016. What made you want to participate in it? What can you tell us about your experience in the contest, as a whole? And you performed "Loin d'ici" on a huge stage, all by yourself. How did you handle that pressure, especially in such a large-scale event?

Z: Participating of Eurovision has always been a dream of mine, which I thought would never come true – because it was just so big, so amazing and thus too unrealistic to actually be a part of it. So after school, I was just starting to write music with my father, at that point just for fun, and we had just written two songs so far. One of those songs was "Adieu", and I was to perform it at one of my father's events, which was hosted by an Austrian radio host. He went towards us after the show, and told us that our local TV station was currently looking for singers, to be in the national preselection for Eurovision, and that we should send in our song. I was really scared, because I had never thought that I would actually have a shot at it. From round to round, I went further, and then ended up being third place. Since I saw that this might really be a dream that could come true, I decided to try again the following year, and that time it came true.
The pressure was still very high, because then I really wanted to go to the final. But I enjoyed every moment of this journey, which helped me cope with my pressure – and all the energy that came from the Eurovision fans was so overwhelming that I just loved being on stage.

SE!: "Debut" peaked at #5 on the Austrian album charts and was certified gold. On Eurovision, "Loin d'ici" was very well received by the audience, placing eighth in the televoting of the final. How is it for you to have your music recognized by the public, both in your home country and abroad?

Z: It is amazing, to be working a job that actually is my biggest passion, so being recognized for this is such a huge compliment and I am extremely thankful.
Also, when you write your songs, when you are on stage, you show your most intimate persona, the person you really are, to people you don't really know, and you put yourself in a position to be judged – that is part of the job and, perhaps, the most frightening part of this job.

SE!: Your most recent singles mark a shift in your style, as well as in your choice of language. Looking back and comparing with your present work, how would you describe the changes in your music?

Z: I was always curious to try out new styles of music, since we never stop growing, changing and getting to know ourselves. I think it is quite natural that the process of finding "your style" of music never stops, either. I love trying out new things, and I enjoy almost every style of music, so I am pretty curious about what comes next.

"I just want the audience to escape from everything and enjoy my music, feel what I feel when I sing and connect with them"

SE!: Since we are talking about music styles, how would you classify your own music, in genre and style?

Z: I would say my music is still something with a lot of emotions in it, may it be in French, English or German. I love to write about love, so whatever style of music it might be next, it will be about real emotions – that, I ought to say, will never change.

SE!: You are not only a great singer, but also a great songwriter. How is the process of writing songs for you? Is there any time, location or situation that inspires you to compose? What do you want the public to feel, when listening to your songs?

Z: Thank you so much! I love the songwriting process, it might be my second favorite thing after being on stage. I almost always write together with my father, and it is just something so fulfilling to create something. Sometimes, we work for hours on a song and in the end we decide that that song wasn't "it", but we still enjoyed every moment of the writing because it simply is so much fun. We usually start with the melody and then focus on the lyrics. The mood is usually already set by the chords and the melody. After that, we just ask ourselves: "What kind of story do we wanna tell this time?". I think you can be inspired by every moment in your daily life. I just want the audience to escape from everything and enjoy my music, feel what I feel when I sing and connect with them.

SE!: Austria is a country with a very rich music history. But sometimes, currently, we feel most Austrian artists are a bit dependent on the German market, having to adapt to their preferences and needs. How would you analyze the current Austrian music scene? And how is it, for you, specifically, to develop your music career there?

Z: I believe that the music business in general is very tough, and to make the choice to be a part of it is always a risky one. You have to be passionate, have a lot of discipline and you really, really have to want it, and be prepared to fail and try again.
I was really lucky to have the chances I had, and to have this very supporting family around me. I know that in the future there will be tough times, better times and hopefully great ones, but I am prepared to face them and to not give up on my dreams.

SE!: What can you tell us about your plans for the near future? What can your fans expect from you and your music? And looking a bit further in the future, what do you still dream of achieving in your career?

Z: I can't really tell you that much, but we are currently working on new songs... I also hope to continue my acting career, because one of my biggest dreams is to be a singer, a songwriter and an actress in the future, because those are my two biggest passions.

SE!: We would like to finish this interview with a song of yours. What is your favorite song by ZOË, and why?

Z: Hmm... tough question. I think because of what happened after we wrote that song, one of my favourite songs is "Adieu".

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