Zaki Ibrahim presents Every Opposite.
Recently we had the opportunity to interview Canadian-born South African singer/songwriter Zaki Ibrahim. We found out what makes her the ever soulful singer that she is and to our delight, she is one musician you’d want to spend your money on.
Here is what Zaki had to say…
Zaki, what was it like growing up in Canada?
I lived in a small town on Vancouver Island, Canada’s westest coast. My family seemed very different from the other families on the island. We were a “bi-racial” unit or “multi-racial in many ways, with a very African percussionist and social activist Father, a blond, blue eyed school teacher Mother. We stuck out like a sore thumb. Different families from different places in the world lived with us at any given time; Korea, Russia, Japan, Nigeria, Jordan, Afganistan and Bask Country. We always had tenants that my parents “hosted” as they emigrated to Canada, as they started programmes through the local College for refugees and families seeking a better life for their children. Home life was always filled with stories from all corners of the world. As a teenager, I found it to be the most boring place on earth. But looking back, it was the bomb.
Your dad Zane Ibrahim is a radio legend, what role has he played in you choosing a musical career?
He’s always encouraged me to express myself, but has been wary of encouraging me to sell that expression. My Dad is very anti consumerism. He believes in humility and sensibility. I think as his baby girl, he’s always tried to strengthen me and protect me at the same time. I think my career choice as a musician was nerve wracking for him as he knew it’s something that flows out of me, but also shows vulnerability. The day he gave me his stamp of approval was the first time he saw me perform here in South Africa in 2009.
About her Career.
What motivated you to choose a career in music?
I suppose I’ve been motivated most by the encouragement of my peers and found that music began to take over once I gave it a fair chance. I always felt that I wanted to protect the thing I loved doing most and not depend on it to live just so I could love it forever.
What do you think every artist [new/old] should know about the industry you are in?
The thing that I’ve found is like with anything in life, there’s something new to learn. Just when you think you know it all, there’s something else to get your teeth into. It’s worth staying open to the newness. Keeps you inspired.
Who do you look forward to working with?
Black Coffee, because it’s been in the cards for a few years now and I feel like we’ll be able to do something proper this year.
About South Africa.
When you arrived in SA for the first time what did you love and what convinced you to stay?
Well, I first came to South Africa as a 3 year old. But my conscious decision to stay as an adult and as a performing artist happened in 2009. It was a combination of things: I have a lot of family and friends here so that connection has always been around. Most of all it just felt right and I base a lot of my decisions on what my gut tells me.
What would you say our best features are as a nation?
The best thing about South Africa is the people. Resilient people blessed with everything they need to make this one of the best places to be.
What would you do if you could change one thing about SA?
Free internet for everyone.
About Her Live Performance
What are some of the biggest stages you’ve played at?
Biggest per metre or biggest as in “big things” lol..coz “big things” can happen on medium sized stages but here are a few highlights:
I performed The Jazzmatazz show with Guru in Toronto just before he passed. I opened for Mos Def in Joburg, played with the Roots in Brooklyn after opening for them in Toronto, performed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, sold out the Mod club (my show was chosen as part of the year’s top ten live shows in Toronto alongside Kanye West and Drake.)
What do you normally do before a live stage performance to calm your nerves?
I like to do my backing singer’s hair and make-up while we warm up our voices. Then I take deep steady breaths and find my center, thank my maker and pretend I’m Mohammed Ali.
Any hidden “diva” requests for your dressing room we should be privy to?
None, I should start thinking of some though… And see what happens. Lol.
About Her Travels.
As a busy artist – where do you like to go to relax?
Cape Town where I live, cook and sleep in comfort. Travel is always fun for me and visiting sunny vacation spots are great, but there’s no place like home.
Has travelling contributed to your composition of music? If so, how?
Definitely. Being “on the move” always seems to help me flow creatively and the more variety I see and experience, the more it reflects in the music.
The best destination would be one where I am at?
A festival in Zanizibar with my band listening to Tinawiren, a Tuareg/Berber) band live, watching the sun set.
On Her Future Endeavours.
Your new single is out featuring Kid Foungue, how did this collaboration come about?
When I was in Canada last, Allan (Kid) wrote me telling me about his album and a producer he’s working with. He sent me the beat and I recorded it that week in Toronto. We shot the video a few months later and voila!
Before we let you go Zaki, congratulations on your SAMA nomination for ‘Every Opposite’ for best R&B/soul/Reggae, how did it feel when you got the call?
Thank you! It felt really great. I’m happy that people are into this record, it was a labour of love and my first real, grown-up project.
In one line, what do you want your fans to take away from your SAMA nominated album “Every Opposite”?
The good and the bad, the light and the dark, the fear and the courage, the interconnectedness of every opposite….
Thank you to Zaki Ibrahim and her manager for this interview, we look forward to more growth from you and best of luck to the road leading to the SAMA’s.
PS: Every Opposite is nominated in the category for: Best R&B / Soul / Reggae Album.