India-born but California bred Zoya grew up thinking art was her destiny but life had other plans, as she puts it ‘I thought I would be a painter but I guess, a song happened.’ Music and songwriting became her new passion and when her father bought her a guitar she never looked back. Her new path led her to Berklee College of Music in Boston but when she got there the sheer amount of talent surrounding her took its toll on her confidence and she traded in her songwriting major for one in music business where she felt more capable. For two years she all but gave up on creating her own music until one day she felt the itch and sat down to pen ‘Letters to Toska’ which then evolved into her first EP that she took on tour around the US and Canada. Her Indian debut came when A.R. Rahman shared one of her interviews and labelled her a voice to look out for.
After much deliberation she made the move back to India and has since signed with an Indian agency, gathered a band and has become a permanent fixture on the festival circuit. She feels that India has more to offer musicians than the West, space to grow, people to inspire and freedom to think differently. She thinks her move has given her a new purpose, to create art that makes a difference and she hopes that she will eventually be remembered as ‘Someone who reached for the stars but didn’t forget what solid ground feels like.’
I. What would you describe as your perfect day from the moment you wake up til you go to bed?
Days when I lock myself in my room and record a new song. Writing a new song is one feeling, but when I finally record it and can listen back to it - it is the best feeling in the world. That’s when I am truly at peace. It’s kind of my meditation.
II. What is your first memory of exploring your medium?
At around eleven or twelve years old I would go down to this little creek near our house in California and take this pink sparkly notebook out by the water. I would sing on the top of my lungs and write down words that would come to mind. My dad would overhear me singing them in my room and took my to India when I was about 13 to record my first album. That was my first experience in a studio, with professional musicians, and my first time hearing my creations come to life on an album.
III. What according to you is your best creation?
I think my song Letters To Toska has been the best so far. I guess “best” to me means “timeless.” That’s what I am searching for in my art. There are many songs I have written that are my favorite and may not be someone else’s. Letters To Toska seems to be the most timeless at this moment. It is the song that most remember after every show. But, I like to believe that that timeless song is still out there for me to find and write.
IV. What are the three things you are really into, besides your art?
Music Business, Spin! (I am secretly a spin instructor), and Fashion photoshoots.
V. What is that one thing, that really annoys you?
Being far away from home most of the year. Either I am on tour or now I am in India. I love traveling and being a bit of a nomad but, everyone needs home.
VI. Something that you have always wanted to do, and really look forward to doing it some day in your career?
I look forward to one day being able to have production be a big part of my show. To be able to plan visuals, lighting, props etc to build upon the message of each song and put on a show. Also just to travel and perform in other countries other than Canada, the US, and India.