Zee Avi, enjoying a cup of coffee in Portland
Zee Avi is one of those artist’s that comes along and you can not deny her unique difference, and approach to music. Born in Borneo, Avi has become one of the musicians whose songs are deeply reverent and soulful. Playing at last weeks Street Scene for the first time, we caught up with Avi to talk about many things. From her excitement on being booked for the event, and how she has made friends in the music industry.
We also discussed the use of the internet medium Avi used in order to make her musical career blossom into the one she has now.
AC: Hey how’s it going?
Avi: It’s going good…I’m in Portland right now enjoying a cup of coffee.
AC: This is the first Street Scene you are going to play right?
Avi: Yeah, and I am super excited for it.
AC:Are you excited to come to San Diego and see the great city?
Avi: For sure! I’ve been told that that the city is beautiful. I’ve never been to the city before on my tour, but I’ve been told by my friends that I would love it.
AC: How did you get hooked up with Street Scene?
Avi: I’m not to sure…I hope someone on Street Scene wanted me to play for them. (Laughter came from Avi after the statement)
AC: In your early years you posted videos on YouTube, how did that help your career?
Avi: It was all completely out of boredom. I posted the videos on YouTube while I was in Kuala Lumpur.
AC: I noticed you play the ukulele along with the guitar, which one do you prefer more?
Avi: I think they are both equally excellent. Even though I play the songs on my guitar, I write them on the ukulele.
AC: How do you get the inspiration for the music you play?
Avi: I get it from everything. I get it from anything that moves me, everything from books, to art, to paintings, from other songs, to other artists, and many different things that I have been exposed to, like when I am on the road, or my past experiences, or my imagination.
AC: What made you go back from London where you studied, to your hometown in Kuala Lumpur?
Avi: Well you know..I was in London for four years, I think its a chunk of time for you to love it and hate it. But, I definitely spent of significant part of my life in London and I think it was about time were I was like “I don’t think I can take the cold anymore”. So I packed my bags and went home to figure out what I want to do.
AC: It also said you studied fashion there right?
AC: What made you choose music over fashion?
Avi: I think music has always been my passion and my hobby, it wasn’t something I didn’t want to stop or give up. I never thought, let alone expected it to be my career at all, and I am pretty grateful that I am able to do that.
AC: It says here that you are 23, how does it feel to be so young and successful?
Avi: I don’t think I’m that young babe! Look at the Jonas brothers compared to my life, look at Miley Cyrus.
AC: That’s Disney, you cant fight Disney ya know?
Avi: It’s so funny, I was watching a documentary today on all the Disney kids and how at some point they take on the Disney Image. I was like, dude come on.
AC: How did it feel when you got offered to actually do your first studio album from Brushfire Records, and Monotone label?
Avi: I rolled out the bed. I had just come back from a party actually. What happened was my video got featured on Youtube.com and then Patrick Keeler saw my video and passed it to Ian Montone who manages The Raconteurs and The White Stripes, and they collaborated with Brushfire Records to release my record. There is many, many wonderful people that I am working with right now, I’m pretty happy.
AC: Which people in the music community are your most memorable, and which one’s made a lasting impression?
Avi: Well…meeting Jack White was pretty wild. I went to a Dead Weather concert last night and meeting Jack White was probably the most memorable one.
AC: Why would you say that?
Avi: I mean, how would you feel if you met Jack White?
AC: Pretty Cool
Avi: Yeah, exactly. You’re Jack White! Do you know that your Jack White?
We both enjoyed a chuckle on that one and continued the interview.
AC: What would be you advice to people on making it, and how to utilize the internet like you did?
Avi: Well, I never expected any of this to be a marketing tool, when you don’t expect much from something you just dive in with both feet and hope it lands some place good. I took that risk, and I took that chance and I landed somewhere good, but if I had any advice I would say don’t change, and don’t be afraid to be misunderstood.
AC: I read that you were bred to be a lawyer, how was that?
AC: Did your Grandfather teach you any music, or did you learn on your own?
Avi: Unfortunately he passed away when I was very young, so I had to teach myself. I learned on my on, I am a really bad teacher and student.
AC: What is one of your most memorable events on you tour?
Avi: We played a couple of places recently with Pete Bjorn and there were so many places that we had a great response and it was awesome. If I were to say from one of my old shows it would be… wow, thats a toughy. I’v been loving all the places I’ve played so far.
AC: When you come to San Diego what is the first thing you plan on doing?
Avi: Go explore. We all have time to do that…haha
AC: Any last words you want to add for people who want to hear your music?
Avi: I just want people to have an enjoybale time, especially for first time listeners. I just want it to be an enjoyable experience and I am looking forward to meeting them.