Interview: Going Out of this World with Bionic Pixie Zowie.
by Daniel Haim
There is definitely something otherworldly about Zowie. And it’s not just because she refers to herself as a “Bionic Pixie” or that she parades around in outfits as futuristic as her seductive brand of synth-pop. Zowie is from the real dirty south, down under – hailing from New Zealand, she has a unique, cosmopolitan swagger that cuts through the flashing lights and pulsing beats of her live show. In fact, live never felt so alive as when Zowie hits the stage, with her evident but not arrogant charisma and confidence rule the air. Zowie makes music that synchronizes with your heart and causes your body to move, whether you came to dance or not. In this way, Zowie’s music becomes a part of you, so it’s fitting that she seems to be describing your feelings more than her own as she sings, “You turn your key inside of me and make me see what we can be…you fix my broken machine.”
Picture a stark room, all stainless steel and gleam. A stereo sits in the room with two towering speakers. Slowly, as our eyes adjust to the immense white light in the room, exaggerated by the smooth shiny surfaces, we can see a robotic figure lying on a bench in the middle. The figure twitches, moves, and sits up letting her petite legs hang over the side of the bench. Her head fuzzy, she shakes it as if trying to remember something. Finally her eyes light up in recognition and she reaches into her pocket. Pulling out a neatly folded piece of silver card, she begins to read.
“Bionic Pixie. You have traveled back in time to the year 2009 as the current music situation is seeking repair. You are the chosen one, as you understand. We believe you have the power to heal the ache of lost love, as you have had your heart broken one to many times. You must use the vigor within you which we know you possess, to invent music mimicking that of the human heartbeat. By using beats and sounds your mission is to merge together the broken and the wounded, the despairing and the lost, the hurt and the lonely, in such a way that there is proof of hope. You are a space cadet making sounds in a tribal land – we need you to take your knowledge and experience of future love to the masses and force their hearts to pulse in sync with yours to create a more melodic environment…” Bionic Pixie grins to herself, Sliding a gleaming CD into the player, she pushes play and lets a barrage of electro-pop, hip hop, dance and punk spew forth. As she pulls on a pair of high top sneakers and strides out the door, it is clear this pixie is ready to kick out your fuckin’ speakers to the year 3000 and modify the heartbeatsof the world to beat with hers.
Coming on like a teenage Joan Jett with a drum machine, all Pulp Fiction bangs and kaleidoscopic baton swinging, Zowie is a futuristic cheerleader from planet Wow. A whip-smart 22 year old karate-proficient Antipodean with a penchant for percussion, a hyperglycemic imagination and a dizzying creative ferocity.
Described by one music critic in her native New Zealand as “a tiny dynamo of electrifying, positive energy” Zowiehas distilled a bubbling mix of vintage synth-pop, shimmering electro, playground chants and rock n roll swagger to create a moxy-fuelled sound all of her own.
As a beat-obsessed adolescent Zowie matched her encyclopaedic enthusiasm for drumming by mastering everything she needed to fully flesh out her own songs: vocals, guitar and programming. While studying for a music diploma in her hometown of Auckland she created enough buzz with laptop crafted demos to garner airplay on national radio and in the past 18 months she’s performed at some of the country’s biggest festivals – The Big Day Out, Rhythm And Vines – as well as performing opening sets for the likes of The Kills and Peaches.
Zowie Gives Bloginity a shout out!
Zowie – Broken Machine
Daniel: Tell us about yourself, where are you from and how did you discover your musical talent was capable of taking you to the next level?
Zowie: I’m from Auckland , New Zealand – Since I was wee, music was always my biggest passion. It’s what I was always surrounded by, and it was always what I did, and always had wanted to do. I think when I started writing my own music and loved doing it, other people responded well to it, and that in turn inspired me to keep going and to keep pushing myself!
Daniel: Coming from New Zealand – how different is the industry out there, then in the US?
Zowie: New Zealand is obviously much smaller, but still has a really good music scene with some great bands. I guess I will know how it compares this October when we’re there for CMJ and to play in LA. I can’t wait.
Daniel: What are your main influences to writing and creating your songs?
Zowie: I always manage to surprise myself with what might inspire me at the time to write. I think whatever situation/thoughts are going on for at the time plays a big part – however also the future is a big thing that influences me. I like there to be a lot of truth to be in my tracks, but without really giving away what the actual or literal truth is if you know what I mean. I really enjoy the process of co-writing as well, I find that really inspiring working with other writers and producers.
Daniel: Do you prefer to set aside time to write, or do you just write as you get inspired?
Zowie: I do both really – I’m constantly screaming ideas into the laptop or phone recorder when ideas come to me. At the same time I do like setting aside time to just focus on writing specifically.
Daniel: What is the one main idea you try communicate through your music?
Zowie: It’s important to me that people can relate to my songs in one way or another. All my tracks are personal to me too, but of course I want to modify the hearbeats of the world to beat with mine! There’s Lots of music out there that’s inspired me – I’ve really related to the lyrics or to the sound of the track – whether it’s the chord progressions or something else that has affected me in a certain way.
Daniel: You recently signed to Sony Music and released your debut single “Broken machine” in Australia and New Zealand and reached top 5. What has been the most difficult part of breaking through the clutter of the music industry?
Zowie: I’ve enjoyed all the clutter I think because along the way to getting to this stage I’ve learnt a lot about the business side of the industry too. I was careful with avoiding what could have been a cluttery mess in lots of situations by sticking to what felt right for me.
Daniel: What has been the most rewarding?
Zowie: The response has been great to “Zowie” All these tracks I’ve worked on are so close to be getting released! Also I’ve really enjoyed focusing on getting my live band together, and listening to all the songs being played live in the rehearsal room – I just can’t explain that feeling – it’s so great!
Daniel: What has been the most frustrating part of your recent notoriety?
Zowie: Nothing’s gotten to me yet!
Daniel: You are due to land on US shores in October for shows in LA, and also the CMJ in New York City – tell us about the excitement
Zowie: We have been getting the live show ready and we can’t wait to play in the States! I was writing with a lot of people in the States earlier this year, so it will be cool for them to hear the songs we’ve written together live in the flesh!
Daniel: Can you share with us the funniest or coolest thing to happen to you on tour so far?,
Zowie: Well there hasn’t been too much touring with the new band just yet, in fact the Viper Room in LA will be our debut show for this tour! Why don’t we check in again at the end of October? I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories for you!
Daniel: There’s so much buzz going for you these days. Tell us about some of the cool relationships that you have forged over the past couple of months.
Zowie: So many great people have come on board with the “Zowie” gang – writing with people who I’ve musically admired for such a long time are friends now, and supporting me all the way. My band/management!!
Daniel: Which of your songs is most special to you and why?
Zowie: That’s like picking my favorite child, I can’t do that!
Daniel: Is there anything about you that you don’t normally let your fans know, but for the sake of this interview are willing to spill?
Zowie: I like to maintain a bit of mystery!
Daniel: What is the strangest thing you’ve been asked to autograph? And, did you sign it?
Zowie: Haha at this stage I think I’ve only signed two things in my life – a math book for someone in school, and a tee shirt at the Big Day Out festival in Auckland! (that was a cute moment).
Daniel: If you turned on your iPod right now, what would be the top 10 most played songs on it?
Zowie: Just turned it on and here they are:
- Gary Numan/Afrika Bambaataa – Metal
- Blood Brothers – Fucking Greatest Hits + Gang Of Fours (ANTHRAX)
- Grace Jones – Use Me
- DFA 1979 – Black History Month
- The Hives – Walk Idiot Walk
- QOTSA – Misfit Love
- The Knife – We Share Our Mothers Health
- NIN – The Great Destroyer
- The Knux – Pop The Cork
- MIA – Bamboo Banger
Daniel: Here is a question that’s very random but we’d love to hear your answers since you’re cool. If you could choose any three things to get free of charge, what would you choose?
Zowie: Aw thanks!
1) Flights to anywhere, whenever and whatever time, and being allowed to bring a few people with me.
2) I’d love to get all music gear for free – that would be bad-ass as there are constantly new toys I want.
3) I’d love to be given crazy out fits and shoes from my favorite fashion designers!
Daniel: What do you think is the coolest trend or style going on in music right now?
Zowie: There are tons of bands trying new things out, as well as tons of bands trying old things out. All of which is cool, there’s a lot going on, I like it all.
Daniel: If you could collaborate with any artist in music right now, who would it be and why?
Zowie: Well, in fact for the album I’ve worked with some of the people already – I will reveal all soon!
Daniel: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in music but wants to get to where you are now?
Zowie: I just kept learning new things and listening to as much music as possible, constantly writing and collaboration and co-writing and try to get better all the time. The live circuit is such a good way to get noticed. It helped me lots.
Recently signed to Sony Music she released her debut single “Broken Machine” in Australia and New Zealand and it debuted in the top 5. That said, make sure to stay tuned with Zowie’s latest news – find her on Facebook here, follow her on Twitter here and listen to her music on Myspace here. Keep on checking Bloginity.com because we sure will be announcing her US tour & release!