Nordic New Music: Zöe

5 years ago Zöe travelled from LA to Iceland and fell in the love with the country. The emotional journey she has experienced in that time has been a difficult one and her new album Shook is made up of a lot of those traumatic life events.

For those that may not have discovered your music yet how would you best describe it?

This is always a difficult question because I’ve never necessarily kept to a particular feeling or sound when it comes to song writing. I have a very hands-off approach when it comes to the writing process in that I allow songs to come out however they want to naturally, without trying to steer them into one specific genre or sound. With that being said, my music is often put under the dark-pop umbrella. Though I think that umbrella is vast and varying.

Most of my music tends to revolve around pretty massive vocal arrangements. I think my signature “sound” often centres around several walls of vocal harmonies playing against 2 to 3 other walls of harmonized counter-melodies. The vocals play just as much of a role as any instrument in the recordings, most of the time even more so.

All of these vocal walls mixed with very visual, biting lyrics are also usually dripping with different reverbs, delays and other “haunting” types of effects, which gives the overall feeling of the songs a ghostly, uneasy quality.

Your new album is out today – what is the theme behind the album?

Shook is made of many themes, all of which fit together into one complete autobiographical journey through 3 consecutive traumatic life events: the death of my father, shortly followed by the end of a long-term relationship in which we were engaged to be married, and shortly after that entering a 3-year-long relationship in which I was the recipient of emotional abuse and mental violence throughout.

The sequence of these events compounded into one dark 5 year stretch which ended with me being barely a shell of myself. But, as they say, you have to hit bottom to reach the light.

I think living in that low, dark place allowed me to rebuild and reinvent myself on my own terms, which includes being able to open myself up artistically and personally by funnelling all of dynamics of experience into a tangible collection of music.

With the album now out what comes next for you?

My main objective now is to continue playing live as much as I can, as recorded material and that material being performed live are very much counterparts to one another and yet completely different experiences, both for the artist and the audience.

In addition to that, I have another album as well as some extra tracks written that I am working on finishing and releasing steadily.

You moved over to Iceland from LA – where are some of your favourite places to hang out and visit?

I moved here 5 years ago and have never looked back. The thing that drew me to Iceland most was the nature, as it does for most people, so my favourite place to hang out is actually up on a mossy mountain someplace.

My boyfriend and I have kind of a tradition of hiking up a mountain and having a sushi date together once we reach the top. But in terms of things in town, am a huge fan of unique little coffee shops, libraries and live concerts (now that they’re back on the table again).

In Reykjavik, I really enjoy Lóla Flórens and Kaffihús Vesturbæjar and the public library downtown, and my favourite concert recently was Vök.

It was definitely a fun surprise. The thing about trying to get your music into film or TV is that you never know when or if it is happening until the very last minute, which makes preparing for it nearly impossible, but at the same time makes it much more exciting.

I think my absolute favourite TV finale song moment was the final episode of Six Feed Under with Sia’s “Breathe Me.” When music placement is done perfectly, it can elevate an episode or a moment to such an extreme emotional height for the viewer.

For me, the music playing behind the most important scene of a show or film is every bit as important and affective as the dialogue or the visuals.

Check out Zöe’s debut music video SUMMER FUNERAL which was directed by the brilliant Baldvin Z (Let Me Fall and Life in a Fishbowl)

What was the last TV Show/Film you watched, book you read, and album you listened to?

I actually just finished watching Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster for the 5th or 6th time…just because I find it both very hilarious and also fascinating to see the intersection of such wildly different personalities trying to co-exist enough to finish an entire album (albeit an inarguably horrible one).

I have slowly been re-reading The Goldfinch for the past year. I only allow myself to read 8-10 pages at a time because I find the language and flow of imagery so gorgeous that I can only emotionally handle that much at a time. I love those kinds of books…so beautiful you can barely handle them. Recently I have been re-listening to the album that made me want to be a songwriter: Chris Cornell’s first solo album Euphoria Morning.

Interview by Alex Minnis

Want to discover more Nordic New Music – check out our playlist on Spotify:

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