Music is Love
Meet ZOE MAZAH… Zoe was born in Monrovia/Liberia to a Liberian woman and a German man. Due to life circumstances, Zoe was brought to Germany as a child and lived with her German aunt, husband, and son, who became her parents and brother. Zoe grew up in a small town in the south of Germany, spending most of her time at her grandmother’s farm close to the alps.
In this farmhouse was a grand piano, and one day Zoe heard someone playing, and she instantly fell in love with the full-body sensation the instrument made her feel. Soon after, Zoe had the chance to take lessons in a public music school program where her Piano time became more critical. She could read notes long before she learned to read and write in school. The Piano and the concentration while practicing started to be her safe place, a time to dream and escape. The world of music became her wonderland.
She became very serious with studying classical music from Mozart to Beethoven along with the usual classical studies. Her teacher gave her ragtimes and easy blues and jazz tunes to learn and to open her horizon. He shared his life story about music with Zoe and planted the conviction inside of her that playing an instrument is a very useful survival skill. He also taught her the discipline of practice. To this day, Zoe can still hear him in her head when she would mess up on the same chords… “slowly, Zoe, play it again and again until you’ve got it.” By the age of thirteen, Zoe was sure that she was a musician.
Flash forward to March 2020, and Zoe Mazah’s musical journey is alive and kicking. On March 6, 2020, she released her Ep, ‘On Repeat’, featuring six highly rated tracks. The EP was well-received by an international audience. Recorded in Porto, Portugal, Zoe considers it one of her most personal works to date.
Zoe Mazah | Immigrant
Release Date: March 6, 2020
Copyright: 2020 Zoe Mazah
Total Tracks: 1
Time Length: 03:24
In Zoe’s words:
“I can’t wait to continue. There is so much to write about. As an artist, I see it as my duty to take my very own personal stance and speak my mind, which is not always beautiful, soothing, or entertaining. Sometimes life is tuff, and then the songs forming inside me will talk about this. Some songs come easy; others are tough to write until I find the correct form for what I want to say. I try to be honest in my music, just as I try to be an open-minded person in my daily life.
To write about social injustice, racism, or writing an authentic love song. To me, this is all the same. It’s music, and it should come straight from the creator’s heart. You will never find me singing a song about something I don’t feel. Yes, of course, this can also be a party tune with no other intention than to make you dance with me or with easy lyrics, like a summer breeze. Causes are also valuable, and necessary subjects and emotions are absolutely worth writing about. The big and the small all count, but authenticity is crucial. To be real to myself and in my art is what I’m trying to be. I think it’s a lifetime journey, and I am curious about what it has in store for me. Music is love, ZOE.”
IRIE. What inspired you to choose Reggae as your choice of music genre?
Zoe Mazah. There wasn’t one memorable moment I could tell you that led me to Reggae Music. Reggae has always been there, just not so obvious and not of easy access to me.
A boyfriend of mine was a Selector and collector of 7-inch records (45s) and took me to dances, and I learned a lot and started to like Reggae more and more. The Lyrics Riddims dances fascinated me, and like many others before me, I couldn’t stop listening to Bob Marley. But it was in Jamaica where I fell in love with Reggae. It just overwhelmed me. Like nothing I could compare it to, I felt this organic groove, this rhythm, this uncomparable vibes.
I loved all sides of Reggae, especially its deepness and spirituality that sounded entirely different for me when I heard it in Jamaica. It was like a totally different listening experience. Through my friend, I had the chance to meet amazing songwriters like Jack Radics and President Brown, and I tried by myself how the songs I was writing would feel like if I would add some Reggae spice to it. To my surprise, it worked. It was like this piece of a puzzle I couldn’t find before.
Somehow I grew into Reggae more than I actively chose it from the beginning. Maybe it chose me too.
IRIE. What were some of the challenges or resistance you faced while pursuing your passion and love for reggae music?
Zoe Mazah. Well, first of all, I’m not Jamaican. Reggae wasn’t always around me. I had to find my access to it. Maybe that’s why I developed my not-so-very classical independent mix out of the genre. At the beginning of my journey into Reggae, I wasn’t excited about the German influencers of that time cause the first success I had as a recording artist was a single produced for a movie that was straight pop.
People like to have things in boxes, and my sound and personality didn’t fit all in one cause I refuse to be put in boxes and mix vibes how I feel. So they didn’t see me as credible and for sure not as a Reggae artist even though I was developing my style.
After I hit the charts with my song ‘Could it be’ you feat. Ky-Mani Marley, I was still a woman, and unfortunately, this wasn’t very popular to book female reggae artists on festivals.
The success of this tune opened many doors for me. I can’t complain because I played a lot and my fans are just the best in the world.
They showed me so much, love. It still isn’t easy for female reggae artists. It wasn’t then, and it still isn’t.
IRIE. Your music is like an awakening… a vibrant blend of soul and roots reggae. Do you feel that your childhood experiences of being different and trying to fit in helped achieve your beautiful, uplifting sound?
Zoe Mazah. Absolutely! I seek transformation. If I can find the right melody and words for a feeling, especially the hard-to-handle ones, I’m sure y’all know what I mean; then they are set free and can transform. Music is a healer. The saddest or most complex emotions or the most profound pain can find their way into light through music. Also, the direct joy and the sweetness of a song have the power to change us. Music is love, and love includes us all. Love is color blind. Love doesn’t check your bank account. Love doesn’t stop at borders. Love doesn’t care about your gender, your age, or your health. And this is music to me. Love. We can all fit in, and we are all welcomed. No one is left behind.
IRIE. You studied classical music and jazz vocals, yet you sound like a roots reggae veteran. Who are some of your musical influences that helped you become the reggae artist you are today?
Zoe Mazah. That is a tricky question for me because I am like a swamp. I soak up all kinds of sound, and if something catches my attention, I try to play or sing it myself. I’m quick to learn, and as shy as I am, I still asked other musicians to learn from them.
When I practice, I try to understand what kind of voice I have and how to use it. I found out that I probably chant more than I sing. I also found out that I like my lyrics to be the understandable conclusion of my thoughts and feelings. I’m pretty much about reasoning with myself and am constantly in the process of learning.
Most importantly, I learned a lot about the sound aesthetics I like while working in the studio with Alberto D’Ascola. He has the technical know-how to put into sound what I only have in my heart and mind. I am not a technician, but I know what I want to hear. This is such a big part of my musical journey. To learn to express what I want to hear and find a way to make it happen. It’s one of my lifetime themes as a musician, I guess.
IRIE. Your lyrics are so powerful and unforgettable. Where do you find inspiration for your songwriting?
Zoe Mazah. Inspiration comes from everywhere. The way a bird crosses the evening sky, the smell of my son’s hair, or the sound of the rain on my neighbor’s garbage can in the backyard at night.
My feelings about what is going on in the world or how some facts just hit me are inspirations. I consider myself an emotional woman, and I feel like certain things need to be said aloud. For example, take my song, Immigrant. I couldn’t write this song! I had to mean every word I sang. If my heart is full, I write. If I am bored and uninspired, I reason with myself about it. I actually find that boredom is a huge feeling many people can relate to.
So my boredoms lead me to a song. There are amazing songs about just wasting time, right? Inspiration comes from everywhere. I think songwriting is about being honest and authentic far more than having a concept of what to write about, and I always write from a very personal perspective.
IRIE. Is it essential that each song tell a story or have a particular message? If so, how do you decide on the topics of your Music?
Zoe Mazah. It’s funny cause some songs kind of write themselves. I try to be very open and let my emotions and thoughts flow as much as I can. Sometimes I form phrases and melodies only in my head before I sit at my piano and put it all down.
Yes, I like having songs that make sense, but this sense can also be about making us dance. For me, music can also be simply entertaining and make you feel good. It doesn’t always have to have meaning or stir your consciousness. Relaxation is also important, ain’t it?
Music to dance to with your loved one, music to enjoy while going to work, or music to give you energy or calm you down.
IRIE. Do you remember the first time you ever performed on stage?
Zoe Mazah. Oh yes, I was five years old. My music school had a concert of all students, and I had to play something on the piano. I remember my teacher was more nervous than me. His concern wasn’t that I would mess up my playing but that I would not sit straight at the piano and place my feet right. I didn’t mess up, and my feet couldn’t touch the floor anyways cause I was too small.
IRIE. Is there a song that you’ve written that resonates most with you? If so, why?
Zoe Mazah. I wrote a song a very long time ago, and the lyrics probably describe me a lot. I called it ‘demain,’ which is French for ‘tomorrow.’
I very much love this song, especially the lyrics, because of the vibes I get from it and the memories I have during the time I wrote it.
IRIE. What do you hope your fans and first-time listeners take with them after listening to your music?
Zoe Mazah. I hope whoever is listening to my music will feel embraced and in a good state of mind. Feel good, feel warm, feel encouraged, and comfort if needed. And feel free to play my music on repeat.
IRIE. Are there any particular causes that are very important to you right now?
Zoe Mazah. This world is so full of causes I don’t even know where to start! I hope we all will learn something from all that’s happening!
IRIE. What’s on the horizon for Zoe Mazah? Are there any new projects that you can share with us?
Zoe Mazah. As usual, I am writing and working on the next EP or Album. I’m not sure if the album artwork is outdated, but for sure, I’ll release either one or the other! Live concerts will probably be challenging due to the pandemic, but if that’s possible, my band and I are ready to go!
IRIE. Is there anything you would like to say or share with the IRIE audience?
Zoe Mazah. Dear All, show the artists your love and appreciation. Share their music on your social media accounts, recommend them to your friends, and, most importantly, let your artists know that you love and appreciate what they do. Feedback is the wonderful fuel to keep going, especially when so many of us can’t play live and have no other way to be in touch with our listeners.
Stay Irie, stay healthy, and awake. Rise and shine and never dim your light for anybody, and don’t forget – MUSIC IS LOVE
IRIE. Maaaad Love & Respect, Zoe!!
Official Zoe Mazah Website:
Zoe Mazah on Spotify | Zoe Mazah on Spotify
IRIE on Spotify | IRIE on SPOTIFY – March 2021
IRIE on Pandora | IRIE on Pandora – March 2021