Zaki chops it up with OkayAfrica.com about her identity, her early musical influences, Every Opposite and more! Get caught up with Zaki below mang! Her album and video for “The Do” are both available online (below).
There’s something about Canadian-born South African singer/songwriter Zaki Ibrahim that resists rigid classification; a refusal to be inhibited by the world. Her recent acclaimed LP, Every Opposite, is “plural in its reach”, fingering an encyclopaedia of influences from hip-hop to indie to soul. The result is an incredibly captivating record and the timbre of Zaki’s voice is spellbinding. We caught up with her to talk about life, influences and her first full length release.
Okayafrica: Your identity, much like your music, is mesmerizingly elastic. You’ve got roots on both sides of the Atlantic (Canada and South Africa). Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how you see your place in the world.
Zaki Ibrahim: I wouldn’t call my identity elastic, but rather diverse. There is no stretching or bouncing but rather finding ways to fit it all into the rest of the world, in bits and pieces. It is all that I am made of and I am a product of all of it. As I’m growing up, as most people do, I feel like I’m becoming increasingly more comfortable in my skin. I feel less and less alien in the places I live and more a global citizen.
I was born and raised free, thanks to my parents who came from worlds that were less than that. I was encouraged to remain free and promote the concept in every sense of the term. I hope to challenge and celebrate this “gift” in my music wherever I can.
OKA: When did your life in music begin and who were some of your early influences?
Zaki: My early influences were my older cousins and brothers and sisters who were into their stuff like house music, hip hop, kwaito, pop, Prince, Sheila E, Anita Baker and so on. My father pushed hip-hop on me like it was a tool that would later save my life. He also played Pink Floyd, Jimmy Hendricks, Tom Waits and Carol King at full tilt on the regular. I suppose the music that was enjoyed around me, influenced what I would later be drawn to, so basically most music.
The political, Pan-African mentality that was instilled throughout my up-bringing, provided content for the ever justice seeking and freedom fighting themes in my songs and with my mother being a poetic soul and grammar fanatic, I have always tried to steer clear of being too literal or forceful with my views so I often choose love songs to say it all.
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