Conventional wisdom dictates that you should not make any major prediction before it’s time, but I’m going to make one right now: when she does come out, Zoe Viccaji is going to be known as the Dido of Pakistan. I first heard of this bundle of talent, when her producer, Shahzad ‘Shahi’ Hasan invited me to his studio to listen to some of the music he had been working on.
Several days after that, I walked into the studio while they were wrapping up on of their recording sessions and had the opportunity to see her ‘in action’ so to speak. She would sing a line (while peeking into one of the large computer monitors), stop, suggest that she hadn’t done it right herself, and then start over again. Shahi laughed, joking that he was going to make her face the other way so she wouldn’t “know”. Zoe later mentioned that it was easier for her to sing on the recording microphone when she wasn’t facing anyone because it didn’t make her feel self-conscious – a sentiment echoed by most singers. Even Bryan Adams prefers to record his vocals in the kitchen of his studio-space (which has been rigged up for that same purpose!) away from where his band records.
She seemed shy at first, but several weeks after I met her in the studio, she acted in MadeforStage’s version of Chicago, as the warden, Mama Morten. In the play, Mama Morten was a larger-than-life character, known for her tall, imposing presence and judging by Zoe’s leaner physique, I initially had reservations about her being cast in that role. As the play had progressed, however, she seemed to grow into the character and delivered Mama’s warm yet conniving personality to the core.
In her own words, she went to a “small liberal arts college” in Hamilton, New York where she majored in painting and wrote some of her songs. She later went to Scotland for a year to study in the Glasgow School of Art. She has around two singles that are almost complete, written and composed by Zoe herself, one of which is Thinking About You (the song is available to listen on the entertainment pages of Dawn.com). When I spoke to her about it, she seemed a little embarrassed at first saying that “Thinking About You is a break-up song. I think everyone has a break-up song. It’s kind of the war you go through internally not just when you’re trying to get over or let go of someone, but letting go of anything”. She’s recording her complete album with Shahi and both of them don’t seem to be in a hurry – moving along with it as and when the time seems right.
Zoe’s interview [ along with Shahi's ] & song may be listened to on: http://184.108.40.206:91/dawnanimation/musician/
Photo by Fayyaz Ahmed