Interview with Zahra

What three artists have influenced your sound the most? 

My list of inspirations is always growing and changing especially as I am constantly refining my sound and the direction I want to go in as an artist. Different artists inspire me in different ways, but I would say that the artists that have most consistently inspired me are Billie Eilish, Role Model, and Jorja Smith. All three inspire me because of their amazing and thoughtful storytelling. I love the storytelling aspect of music and all of these artists write very authentic lyrics and record them with such raw emotion. They also create these visuals that make you feel exactly what they are trying to convey in the song and that is magical as a listener. Music is such a unique language and I believe it can be used to convey emotions that words can’t. I feel like these inspirations of mine are very good at tapping into all the ways one can express themselves through music and that’s why they inspire me.

Who in your personal life has influenced your music/career the most?

I have a friend who I went through a really dark time with, and we both did some really tough personal growth and soul searching together. It is not easy to stick by a person when they are falling apart inside while at the same time you are falling apart as well. But I think that there was some comfort knowing that we understood what the other was going through and that’s exactly why I was able to find the self-confidence and drive to make my own music. She was a friend who I could talk to about my craziest dreams and goals in life and she would really understand me and take those goals seriously. That support was everything I needed to start my music journey. Prior to her, I always felt that there wasn’t much support for people who want to go into the arts. I grew up thinking that you either have to have friend/family connections or you that have to have this crazy natural talent to be in music, but I realized that wasn’t true at all. Expressing yourself through art is a part of being human. My friend really helped me realize that my creativity is just as valid as anyone else. 

Are there any moments in your life that have heavily influenced your music?

There hasn’t been a particular moment, but I feel like these past two years of me growing up into an adult has been huge for my music. Two years ago, I started journaling and really sitting with my own thoughts as a way to process all that I experience in a day. I think this

has helped me creatively. Journaling everyday keeps me in a creative mindset all the time which I feel is very useful for making music; I have definitely taken sentences out of my journal entries and put them into my songs. When I make music, I never want to sit down

and feel like I am forcing ideas out or that I’m falling short in expressing myself. But I think that this year of focusing on self-growth has allowed me to stay in tune with my emotions. There isn’t a limit to my expression because my thoughts and feelings are never buried too deeply in my mind. 

What influenced you to get into playing your specific instrument/vocals/genre of music?

I am grateful to my mom who got me piano lessons growing up. Piano has been a constant in my life, and I’ve always found my way back to it. But I never did any of my own composing and songwriting until later in life. When I fell into a really emotionally unhealthy, numb state of mind I realized that music was the most powerful tool for me to heal. Music became such a natural high for me and there were many artists across many genres whose music touched my soul in a way that nothing in my life could. Eventually I started playing covers of my favourite songs and the euphoria I got from actually playing the songs I loved listening to was insane. So, it was then when I realized I wanted to take my favourite songs, my piano background and my writing skills to make my own music. 

Any films, TV or books that have influenced your music? 

Film is always an inspiration for me when I write music because it’s such a powerful way to tell stories. I always write and compose my music with a story and visuals in mind. I have a whole playlist filled with movie soundtracks because there is something so powerful about music that is written for a visual story. Labrinth and his soundtrack for Euphoria is very inspiring to me. I have watched so many behind-the-scenes interviews for the show where he explains the process behind his production. The level of creativity and thoughtfulness that Labrinth had during his creation of the soundtrack blows my mind. 

Also, on my most recent EP, I have a song called sanctuary which was inspired by one of my favourite childhood movies called Series of Unfortunate Events. There was a scene in the movie that has always stuck with me where the recently orphaned main characters build this tent in a candle lit room as an attempt to build something that can offer them comfort and sense of home in the dark time they are in. During the scene the narrator describes this idea of a sanctuary; a safe place in a troubling world. The song I wrote on my EP was inspired by this idea of sanctuary because, for me, my memories and hobbies from my childhood always feel like a sanctuary to me in my life whenever times get hard or when I feel like I am losing myself. 

Who would you like your music to influence or inspire? 

I hope to inspire anyone who wants to do music but has never felt supported. I think at the start of my music journey, a lot held me back from making music when I knew I loved it. Now that I make music, I realize how much I would have missed out on if I didn’t follow through with my dream. I was not someone who knew a lot about making music when I started. In fact, I had never sung in front of anyone else. But my love of music was enough to get me where I am today. So, I hope I can be an example to people that anyone who wants to create should create. I don’t come from a family of musicians and I wasn’t born with natural music talent. If everyone in the world was giving the support and time to make music and express themselves, I honestly believe there would be such beautiful music made. Expression is a great way to communicate, heal, and even help other people feel less alone. No one should ever rob themself of all the wonderful things that making music has to offer.

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