Where did Zoe grow up? I was raised by my grandmother and grandfather in Pietermaritzburg, Mbali. I then lived with my hardworking nomad mother there after. We moved around a lot and so, ’till this day, I find home in people and not places.
Who was Zoe in primary school? I was Palesa. I still am, only a bashful, plump Palesa that was really very much to herself. I was in my own world half the time, known to be in junior choirs and played really bad recorder. I was quite crazy when I warmed up to you, using as much of my funny card to keep you in my company, but awfully shy otherwise. I was a sensitive kid, easily bullied, and quickly learnt a thing or two about developing a thick skin.
What adjective would you use to describe yourself? Sensitive
Where did the love of music come from and when did the romance start? I wish I had the perfect story for you. All I really can say is, I have always had a blended family and that gave me a chameleon perspective on sound because they all drew to various kinds of music for solace and peace of mind, enjoyment. It went from singing along to all of that, to wanting to become like it, very quickly.
How much of your personality is reflected on your work? I think I am within myself and outside myself and that reflects. At this point in my musical journey, the theme of self reflection is central and I really just express the world as I see it at that time. What is always going to be present is my openness to adding to my sound palate, very parallel to my personal sense of being open to life. Music elevates me, but it also helps me a see myself as I am.
What is on replay on your playlist at the moment? My debut project is definitely on replay. I’m just going back to it, to internalise what it meant before sharing it to the world. I am also enjoying Jo Kunnuji Experiment, John Mayer, Femi Kuti, Kali Uchis, Laura Mvula and Nick Hakim. It changes a lot though.
What inspires Zoe? GOD. Always God. It’s not a perfect relationship and my understanding is still growing but I am glad my Maker is in many ways my mastermind and good friend. People are a big inspiration, especially those that think their life has no spectators, no admirers. I love looking to them most. I get where they’re coming from. Everyone needs to be loved, seen, accounted for.
Top 2 beauty products you can’t live without? COCONUT OIL and some good cologne.
What has been your most memorable moment been yet so far as a musician? Performing in Nigeria in 2015 was one of the biggest moments in my life. I felt for out continent and how much we downplay it, even to ourselves. I appreciated being there and seeing beautiful things and beautiful people in my own people.
Can you tell us a bit about Yellow: The Novel? Yellow: The Novel is a 23 track project, my joy and pride. A passion project centred around self – realisation and very much a collaborative work with amazing artists that I felt are teaching me a lot, even in the work. It really is a body of work, very much like a novel, you need to give it time and read it. It isn’t for shock value or for fleeting time but it is a audio book that will add to your life if you give it a read. The great thing is that you make your own story, your own plot and your own ending. It’s just written in Yellow font.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance? There is no such thing haha. Just a funny plot twist really.
What’s the weirdest or most surprising thing that has happened to you on stage? So far, the most surprising thing I’ve ever done was me was doing an impromptu fall after performing grunge classic “Feels Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana on the 1st season of The Voice SA.
If you could go back to your 15 year old self, what would you say to her? You’re not a weirdo or an outsider, you’re an extra – terrestrial being with something beautiful to give. You are stronger and braver than you think. The boys at school might not admire you much but, man you are a seriously beautiful thing kid. Keep on keeping on, have fun.
What’s the most memorable thing anyone has ever said to you? An old man sat next to me in a bar, in Cape town after a long trying day. I told him about not knowing what life wants from me. That I was tired.He then randomly told me all about his roller coaster life story and a few crazy secrets, then said “Sleep when you’re dead”. Something in me shifted that day.