Name: Arya Zappa
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Recent release: Arya Zappa's A Study Of Dreaming Habits is out via Kobra.
Recommendations: The collected poems by Philip Larkin and Juliet Of The Spirits by Federico Fellini
If you enjoyed this interview with Arya Zappa and would like to find out more about her work, visit her official homepage. She is also on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started writing and producing around 2005; at this time, I was mostly experimenting and heavily influenced by new wave and avant-garde electronic music.
I like how instantly music communicates on an emotional level.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
For me it’s rather an emotional process.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
It was a long personal, creative journey involving a lot of experimentation.
I felt I had the first creative breakthrough with the first Arya Zappa Album. At this point I would say the biggest challenge always was and will be overcoming myself.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
Identity is something that we need to acquire through life experience. It isn’t something we are born with. Understanding this made it easier for me to accept who I am and enjoy working on it. It is an ongoing metamorphosis until death.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
For me, expression is about connecting and feeling; this is only possible if I honestly care.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
Perfection is rarely suitable as it doesn’t give enough space for ideas to evolve. On the other hand, a great idea can suffer from execution that lacks details as much as from excessive perfectionism.
It’s all about the right balance, I suppose.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
I appreciate the possibilities that digital music production offers. Also, high-quality video production has become much easier, as new technologies offer many possibilities.
In that regard, my most important tools of expression, besides my voice, are my computer and iPhone.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
I wake up around 10 am and do my workout, shower, and then start the day with a few coffees while answering emails and doing the office chores.
After the boring stuff is done at around 6 pm, I go for a long walk and grocery shopping, have a late lunch, and then start working on music or lyrics at around 8 pm and usually work until 3-4 am.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
My creative process is very intuitive. Sometimes it starts with a poetry piece I’m reading that inspires me or an old art-house movie. I play a few notes on a simple beat and start singing along. Then I work on the lyrics.
After finishing the lyrics, I start working on the arrangement and the instrumental composition.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
Collaboration can help break routines and learn new things, which is excellent. But it can also dilute the message of a piece due to its nature which requires compromises.
It’s always about balance and the right timing, I suppose.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
My work is my reaction to the world and expresses how I experience reality.
Music, like any other form of expression, is a communication tool. It’s all about connecting with the world and information flow.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
Music is the only art form so direct and instant in its effect. You can’t touch it like a sculpture or look at it like you can with a painting. The closest physical links are the instruments and tools used to produce it.
It exists as waveforms, invisible, fading into nothing. But what remains are profound emotions. And that’s what humans remember and what makes it so different from any other art form.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
Music is a creative expression and science; both are closely related and use maths and logic, combined with creative thinking.
If science is the creative expression of the intellect, music is the science of emotions.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
The poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran said, "Work is love," and I couldn't agree more. Things become trivial due to the value we give them. Anything we do can be an expression of love.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
Because of how humans experience reality, only a tiny part of us is the intellect; the most significant factor, our subconsciousness, is intuitive and very complex.
We do not remember details of past events in our life, but we remember the emotion very well.