Z-STAR LIVE AT CARGO, SHOREDITCH – WEDNESDAY MAY 27
If you’ve never heard of Z-Star – and quite frankly you must’ve been living under a rock – or never seen them live – which is pretty unbelievable – then you are in for one hell of a shock to the system! This is THE only band that you need to see in your life, and as luck would have it they’ve agreed to be part of the Proudwomen live music Session, in support of Pride in London *scream*! Expect some dark tales n wild mind-blowing earth shattering BluesRock PsycheSoul shebang energy. Z-STAR is the music project of singer songwriter producer Zee Gachette whose legendary live shows have spurred a myth-like reputation that spans the globe, kicking the year off with an epic two-month tour of Australia.
I caught up with the electrifying goddess and ‘force of nature’ (Jimmy Page) front woman of Z-Star, and here’s what she had to say when I questioned her.
EE: Music Worldwide described you as ‘the next Jim Morrison’ and your band as ‘…the 21st century Doors’ – how does that feel?
ZEE: I love The Doors, so it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. I’d say there are elements of our music and live experience that’s on the same trip…shamanistic psychedelic blues oblivion laced with visual lyrical improvisations, vivid musicality and incendiary stage-raging. Every inch of my being believes that music, especially when played live, should be a totally engaging experience from the band to the audience altogether in that roller coaster ride.
EE: Who were/are your main musical influences?
ZEE: Nina Simone, Hendrix, Marlena Shaw, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Tina Turner, Betty Davis, Millie Jackson, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Bob Marley, Alabama Shakes, Fleetwood Mac, John Martyn, Nick Drake, The Black Keys, Jack White, Gary Clarke Jnr.
EE: What made you decide to work with ProudWomen on the first of their live music Session fundraisers for Pride in London 2015?
ZEE: Robin and Lauren have been at the heart of the London scene organizing events and parties. ProudWomen promotes more visibility for women in general within the gay scene so from that aspect I wanted to get involved. There’s also the subject of the state of music within the scene which tends to lean more towards DJs & Cabaret, so it’s gonna be fun to Rock Out!
EE: You’re also performing on the main stage at Pride on Saturday June 27, how did that come about?
ZEE: It’s been on the cards for sometime, so it’s great to finally be performing, I have ProudWomen to thank for that.
EE: What did you think when the legendary Jimmy Page called you ‘a force of nature’?
ZEE: (slo-mo) In that moment, when those sound waves traveled from his lips into the atmosphere where I stood, his hands on my shoulders shaking me into the surreal reality of cloud nine, I wasn’t thinking. I was speechless and a bit in shock, as one would be if one of your guitar gods was giving you the thumbs up. He asked me if I wrote the opening track ‘Murder On My Mind’ to which I answered “Yes” and the greatest compliment followed. The music of Led Zeppelin continues to be one of the major soundtracks to my life so just to perform in JP’s presence was a huge deal for me, nevermind the fact that I was picking up the award for Best Live Act, so even more pressure:) Afterwards I felt relieved in a way because when one has so much admiration for such a legendary musician and you finally meet them, its just amazing when they are so down to earth and generous.
EE: You’ve an amazing stage presence – how do you maintain such mesmerizing energy and focus?
ZEE: I have a very strong constitution especially when it comes to music. The stage presence, energy and focus is part of my mother’s DNA transference from her father, my grandfather Al Timothy a singer-songwriter, jazz music and cabaret entertainer. Its most definitely in the blood. As a live performer, its my personal prerequisite to be always on form, embodying the message and energy of the music. If it requires me to scream until my cords bleed that’s what I do, live it note by note, truth by truth, channelling the spirit. Its the most liberating feeling to be at one with your path – I know who I am and what I have to do. Of course there are challenges, especially being on the road, lots of travel, lugging gear, waiting around, technical issues – it can get tough, but all the excess energy created in the struggles become gas on an open flame. As soon as I get on stage it’s a clear channel and all elements for magic come together, preparation, expectation and delivery, the people, the musicians and the vibration of the music.
EE: What drives/inspires you to write music and perform?
ZEE: I really love it when folks identify with the message of the song, when the music truly moves them emotionally its a beautiful exchange and I get to connect with them in this way, as an artist I feel that’s the true purpose. Most times I’m compelled to write about human experiences, inspired by reality or symbolism in a dream, or scenes from the vastness of everyday life. Sometimes its like I can’t move forward until I’ve written it out of my system and into a song or poem, the thoughts become fact, fiction or a form of therapy, a kind of filtering of the senses.
Apart from the creative side, other factors like global radio play, sold out shows, music on TV, cool collaborations and generally positive feedback, helps to keep the drive on the freeway. Most of all people inspire me, family, friends and fans some of whom have met their life partners at a Z-STAR gig blissing out in a loved up soundtrack to their lives, an infinite cycle of energy, that’s inspiring. It’s like coal for my steam train.
EE: Tell us about your recent tour of Australia; how was it different to touring the UK?
ZEE: What an experience for a first trip! It’s definitely in my top 3 places to be on the road, the Great Ocean Drive being just one of my many lifetime experiences on our 20+ date tour down under. We played Festivals and Venues from the legendary Basement (Sydney) to the blissful Blenheim Fest’ (Clare Valley), and the Standard Hotel in Melbourne felt like our new local. The Aussie audiences are really open and into live music sometimes adding to the high drama which just makes the experience even more crazy, fun and unpredictable. We were there at the end of Summer, so lots of sunshine which is great for outdoor festivals. The UK is definitely the tougher side of touring from that aspect, for everyone involved. It’s so heartbreaking when the heaven’s pour so much so that shows sometimes have to be called off. Plus Australians still love to buy CDs, which is a definite plus for us independents!
EE: You recently raised the cash for your new project through crowdfunding – tell us about the whole process and a bit about your new album ’16 Tons of Love’.
ZEE: We launched our crowdfunding campaign with PledgeMusic which was very successful. It’s definitely not an overnight job, it is a lot of work but then it’s a great way to build on that direct connection to one’s audience, which is a beautiful thing. We created artist exclusives from Signed CDs to Art to Videos and Handcrafted items, in the beginning my imagination went wild and I added lots of choices which in retrospect just added to the workload, but I had fun fulfilling them.