Interview: Zowie

JJ McConnachie

JJ McConnachie is a writer, book and movie lover, and a technology geek.

JJ from Chelsey sat down over hot chocolates with the talented Zowie, the new face of Cool Charm, to chat about Bowie, drumming and No Doubt!

I understand you’re the new face of Cool Charm. How’d that come about?

It was an idea that Cool Charm had, and they approached us, asking if it was something I’d be into. It’s kind of edgy, but it’s a bit like my music and still very pop. It’s such an iconic Kiwi brand, and they’ve always had cool ads.

Was it different filming an ad, as opposed to a music video?

It was different because there was a lot of acting – there were so many scenes where I wasn’t singing, and in music videos I’m constantly singing, so it’s this shield. It was physically quite demanding, because I had to wear this big brace that had a camera on the end of it. It was kind of like a canoe, but it was all metal rods and it was really heavy. It was worth it though, because the effect looked amazing!

You have your own unique fashion style. What inspired you fashion-wise?

I’ve been into fashion ever since I was little, always wearing crazy things! Whenever I was performing I’d always want to be in something a little different to what I’d normally wear. My parents have got amazing taste in fashion as well – I wear a lot of my Mum’s stuff from the 80’s and 90’s. I’ve even worn a couple in music videos.

I find it really fun on stage being a little bit removed from Zoe Fleury. But I just wear what I like when I’m on stage - I’m not trying to go for a particular look.

Do you think you have a ‘stage personality’, or is it all you up there?

I’m definitely very Zoe Fleury, but I’m more vocal and kind of a smart arse on stage. But I was always looking up to artists like David Bowie because he was so shy and removed off stage, and I’m the same where I feel in a weird way more comfortable when I’m performing.

Obviously, you can sing, but can you play any instruments?

Drumming is my main instrument – it’s what I studied at music school. I still play a bit of that on stage. I’m hoping to extend the drum kit on stage, because I miss it so much.

Drummers are usually confined to the back of the stage, while as a singer you’re at the front with all attention on you. How did you manage that transition?

It’s quite bizarre. I got asked to do a song with someone, and I’d done a little bit of singing – more sort of screeching, but I’d never ever thought of myself as a singer. I hated choir at school! I wasn’t into it at all. So it just kind of happened, and I enjoyed the feeling of being able to move around instead of sitting for a whole show. Drumming is my heart – drumming is my boyfriend. I’m really looking forward to making it more of a feature again.

How old were you when you knew you wanted to get into music?

From the very beginning. My father’s a musician, and my mum was a musician as well. So I was always around it and going to the studios with my dad, and going to his gigs. I was around people like Dave Dobbyn, because my dad used to play with him. I didn’t really want to do anything else. Apart from be an astronaut

Can you describe your musical style?

A mishmash of really dark, industrial elements, with a real burst of pop. It’s two extremes in one!

Other than David Bowie, who are your musical influences?

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan, Peaches, Gwen Stefani.

What do you think about Gwen Stephani getting back together with No Doubt?

So excited! I’m a huge fan of her solo stuff as well, but it’s so exciting. I’m loving their new album.

Describe your ultimate show.

The Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, and I want to sell that out one day.

You featured on Feel Inside (and stuff like that) for Cure Kids. What was it like working with so many talented musicians?

It was quite intimidating at first. I walked into the room and there was Dave Dobbyn, and I was in Neil Finn’s studio and Boh Runga was there… I knew them all from growing up as well, from Dad, so it was super cool. It was such an honour, because they are all amazing musicians.

It was nerve-wracking because we didn’t know the melody of the song. I was standing there with them, and they said, here’s the melody, and I just had to do it! It was so much fun and it came out really well.

You’ve also toured with Katy Perry! What was that like?

That was amazing. We did eleven dates with her over Australasia. We only put ourselves forward to do one Vector Arena show, and then she came back and said she wanted us for the whole of Australasia. It was insane! 13,000 people every night.

What artist would you most like to work with in the future?

Prince would be amazing… Trent Reznor though… Too many to pick! I admire to many artists. Grace Jones… I think I need a festival haha.

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