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The 99% Episode #13 with ZØYA

ZØYA originally from Belarus is an Indie-pop singer-songwriter and recording artist living in Los Angeles City. Growing up around Christian music, she found the likes in inspirational and instrumental music. Starting at only six years old, her influences and artistic skills came into play with writing poems and songs. Trained at the Columbus International Children’s Choir Academy, she recorded her first music album called Shalom. It was obvious she was on a mission as she didn’t wait too long to release her second collection called Gratitude.

Her storytelling crafts carry messages of struggles and life hassles of her own throughout her teenage years. ZØYA envisions to assist anyone who listens to her music that might need some motivation or inspiration. With her strong and heavenly raspy voice, this artist channels raw emotion. Listen and read her interview on the 99% Podcast in episode 13.

Listen To ZØYA’s 99 Percent Podcast Interview:

[00:00] Steereo:

We’re here with singer-songwriter, Z0YA. Thank you for joining us today! How are you?

ZØYA:

Thank you so much for this opportunity, I’m doing great.

Steereo:

Where in the world are you waking up today?

ZØYA:

Los Angeles!

Steereo:

Are you not originally from Los Angeles right? Tell us a little bit about where you’re originally from, and the music scene from where you were.

ZØYA:

I was originally born and raised in this country called Belarus. It’s in Eastern Europe and I was a born in the small town called Pennsic. It used to be part of the Soviet Union but now it’s independent. Now I’m based here in L.A. and I grew up in Columbus, Ohio before moving out to L.A. I’m half American half Belrossian. I speak Russian it’s my native tongue; you can probably hear my accent right now as well.There is a big pop music scene in Belarus, and there it’s like kind of a techno pop music, house, that is very particular. Right now it is kind of in. We primarily focus on pop singers and songwriters as well.

Steereo:
When you were growing up, who were some of the pop artists that influenced your career?

ZØYA:

Definitely The Beatles, Michael Jackson, some legends in here. I’ll always listen to Christina Agulera, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion. These were my inspirations. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had them as their inspirations. Amy Winehouse and Eta James, Eta Fitzgerald, and Sia, too.

[03:12] Steereo:
What was it like when you were first breaking into the music business? Was it at a young age? Is it a relatively new thing for you?

ZØYA:

Started out pretty young. I started singing in the church when I was very young, around ten or eleven years old. I was singing covers; I started out with covers of inspirational songs, leading worship in church. That’s how I started my music journey. I started writing worship songs myself. I recorded a couple of albums. They were not my original songs, they were more of Russian inspirational songs that I covered and then recorded in a local church of mine. I released them and one of the covers went viral on social media in Russia Belarus, in Christian media. So many people started listening to it so I was like, alright, maybe I should do this music thing. I started diving into more of the Christian music scene, but it didn’t really work out for me because I was traveling and doing it as a volunteer because I didn’t really make any money from it. Then, as I was growing up, when I was like seventeen years old I started writing more of my own stories. Life happened I guess. I was writing about my own struggles, my own experiences, circumstances, relationships I’ve been through. I started playing them live. I did lots of acoustic sessions and jams in my town, in Columbus Ohio, so that’s how I started diving into the secular music scene. Or just the music scene in the U.S. I was singing songs in random places, in bars, clubs, coffee shops.

ZOYA via Facebook

[06:00] Steereo:

You spoke about your music going viral. You know, our platform, Steereo, is where we mix music and technology together. How do you feel technology has given artists the opportunity to be discovered?

ZØYA:

I feel like technology is the leading tool right now to promote your music very well. Basically, without it, less artists will be discovered nowadays. It’s a powerful tool that needs to be its utilized very well. As long as you know how to use it, strategy wise, it will be very useful. It help me a lot and that’s how I have been discovered most of the time.

Steereo:

I read in your bio that you also directed two of your music videos. What made you decide to go into the directing as well as the performance and the writing and the music?

ZØYA:

I’ve been through some issues in my life and I’ve got so many stories to tell people, and I’ve been through many struggles when it comes to music or the media making process. For me, it’s very crucial to get involved in the process of making the video for the single or the music because I’ve been through that song. Whenever I write something it’s honest, it’s authentic, I’ve been through that. It’s my story and that’s what matters to me the most. Every song has to have a story, so that’s what I’m trying to implement in videos. I tried to tell my story and get the audience’s attention, and tell them, “hey, you’re not alone. I’ve been through this, maybe you’ve been through that as well.” You’re not alone so that’s my goal. To use music to heal people’s hearts. Maybe it sounds cheesy but it is what it is and that’s what I want to do. I want to use my story for people to hear because maybe it’s going to speak to them and maybe they can relate to it now. Visuals are a powerful tool, it’s very important to use. Especially when you have a story to share. Sometimes music is not enough.

 

Watch ZØYA’s in Her Official Music Video “Chaos in My Head”:

Steereo:

I think it’s very brave of you all to not only to expose yourself from a vulnerability point, in terms of songwriting but also directing. It’s a huge thing to put yourself out there for people to criticize. Your music but also your directing skills.

ZØYA:

If you have a vision, you’ve got to do it. You just have to do it. You can’t be reluctant about it. If you believe in it, if you truly are firing for it, find a team who will truly believe in you and will help you out as well. It takes time but as long as you believe in others will too.

[10:00] Steereo:

As part of the Steereo family, when people jump into a rideshare service, what is it you want them to feel?

ZØYA:

I just want them to feel what I felt. I want them to feel that struggle and pain that I’ve been through. iti’s not always a story, it’s an emotion. That deep feeling. I just want them to relate to that and I want to share that message of hope with them. I want to give them the hope and I want to highlight the reality of it. There there’s always a solution and there’s always a way to just move forward and overcome and conquer and achieve things. Overcome that struggle.

Steereo:

As an independent artist, for people who are your fans or people who are listening to this looking for information on starting their career in the music industry, what challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

ZØYA:

There are so many challenges. The business side of music is my number one challenge because it’s very tough to make a living out of it. It’s tough to find the right people and the right scene that will believe in you. It’s a struggle to find the right people to work with; they were interested for other reasons like money. Finding all the right people to work with, producers, media directors, even like booking gigs. The gigs sometimes don’t pay that much, especially living here in L.A. There’s a system called pay to play where an artist pays to play a show and I can’t really deal with it. I don’t get it. I don’t take these gigs by the way, I never pay to play. I feel like it’s stupid to do that.

Steereo:
It’s really important to be surrounded by the right people with the right intentions and the right energy. I think when that all lines up, then your career can be smoother and easier.

ZØYA:

Especially finding the right people who can you trust, who are loyal to you, because these trustworthy qualities do matter. Kindness, loyalty, being a good person, that’s very important in this industry. For me it’s kind of tough to find the nice folks right now. Especially being surrounded by so many people here in L.A.

Steereo:

Tell us a little bit about what are some of the new and exciting things coming up for ZØYA this year.

ZØYA:

I finished a new single. It’s going to have a different sound. There are three different independent labels who are interested in releasing it right now so I’m trying to figure out choosing the right one. Hopefully they’re going to be released by the end of summer, if everything works out. I’m putting together my second, sophomore E.P. I’m planning on releasing it next year, hopefully in the beginning of the year. I’m going to play more shows here in L.A. I’m going to be releasing more music videos directed by me and my co-directors as well.

 

ZØYA via Facebook

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FOLLOW ZØYAWEBSITE // FACEBOOK // INSTAGRAM // TWITTER

LISTEN ZØYA: SOUNDCLOUD // APPLE MUSIC // SPOTIFY // YOUTUBE

 

Kai McDaniel is a Los Angeles-based writer, lover of entertainment, art, and film.