Eclectica (Episodes In Purple)
We love Zaki Ibrahim!
Born in Vancouver, BC and raised between South Africa and Canada’s West Coast, Zaki Ibrahim spent her life moving between two worlds and there was a constant cultural diversity blending her world together. Raised by South African father and Scottish/English mother, her home was full of fruitful debate, musical inspiration and societal education.
Music became a constant in her life. “I have early memories of music holding this esteemed position in our household,” Zaki describes, “because most music was banned in South Africa during Apartheid. There were these mixtapes that went underground that became lifelines to the world around us.” Each one of the tapes contained an eclectic mix from house music to jazz to pop and became treasured symbols of infinite possibilities.
Zaki Ibrahim’s music is captivating and vibrant. It’s thick with poetics and steeped in a delicious mixture of earnest emotion and social commentary. Zaki’s path continues to progress, layering new experiences on top of each other that uniquely influence her musical ventures, culminating in her most recent project, eclectica (episodes in purple).
Zaki’s road has been paved with creative encounters that have propelled her forward – from a childhood steeped in musical influences, to performing at Capetown’s historic Armchair Theatre, then touring Canada with South Africa’s Tumi and the Volume, the Roots and Bedouin Soundclash, to collaborating with famed DJ/Producer King Britt, to now.
A lot of Zaki’s songs start with a form of free-writing poetry, abstract pieces of writing, playing with words, playing with couplets. “Associating words with a few different meanings can be powerful,” Zaki explains. Throughout history, lyrics have played an integral part in communicating a message instrumental in bringing about change. On “You Choose” there is a lyrical message capturing the concept of directing your life and taking ownership and responsibility for your choices. “You choose to take life by the reins; The rain will keep falling around you but be brave; you can’t be afraid of change.” (You Choose) The message in this song is enhanced by subtly referencing the styles of past musicians whose music was present during times of upliftment. Samples, melodies, vocal stylings and lyrics from influential artists like James Brown, Sly and The Family Stone… are found on the powerful “You Choose.”
On “Computer Girl”, the marriage of organic sounds with electronic technology was explored, using a voice looper that allowed her to shape the song using a simple vocal and looping it and layering it to create a foundation. “It symbolizes a ‘resignation’ to technology, while acknowledging its limitations,” Zaki muses. “As powerful and progressive as technology is, it can’t reproduce something as pure as your voice.” “Will you ever need me just like I need you? Make my life smooth, show me what to do.” (Computer Girl)
Zaki further explored this concept on the track “Love/Like”. Working with producer Nick Holder, traditional instrumentation was brought in to create a unique beat. “I wanted a different sound and the harmonies somehow reminded me of water. I had never worked with water instruments before, like a Rainstick and the Udu, and it brought an ancestral/tribal tinge to the song.”
Taking inspiration from her surroundings is no more evident than on the track “Lost in You”. Zaki explains “I was literally deep in a dream, singing… I woke up at 4am to scribble the song and it came out in French!! My French is not the most proper, but it made perfect sense at the time.”
With a full length album in the works, Zaki will continue to break new ground, challenge assumptions and step outside her comfort zone. Her philosophy of making connections based on a mutual admiration for expression, creativity and the power of words, directs Zaki’s path. Expect the unexpected as Zaki continues to grow as an artist.