By Lauren Pillay
South African musician, Zoe Modiga makes music solely to evoke emotion, and because she is deeply in love with it. Upon hearing the name Zoe Modiga, many adjectives may come to mind if you’re familiar with this name.
She is a amazing musician, a talented Jazz singer, inspiring, empowering, and breath-taking to say the least. Although none of these are the words she’d use to describe herself.
“I’d like to be remembered as a genuine human being, as a person who was unafraid to change the spaces that she dwelled in,” says Zoe.
The music industry
Many musicians find themselves buried under façades that pressure them into being an image contrary to their true selves. An image constructed by others that create dissonance within an artist. Zoe Modiga displays honesty in person and on stage that allows her audience to relate to her being.
She oozes a natural presence, not the kind of a Greek god, but rather the kind of a normal human being that is not afraid to embrace herself in her entirety.
“I try to be as honest with myself so that I’m not trying to create an image of myself and live up to something different when you interact with me, ” she says.
Who is Zoe Modiga?
Zoe’s tenacity and zeal are difficult to miss. Her character shines through her movements and embellishments in conversation. Her presence lingers in your memory and allows one to feel free, although, during her earlier years, Zoe was the introverted girl who never drew attention to herself in a room. She mentions to The Open Journal how she felt like a shadow in high school.
What she didn’t know, was that her voice and her heart would cause many heads to turn in the future. “I’ve always been quite introverted as a person, I have buttons that I press now, I’ve been able to learn what to press when so that I’m present and people aren’t like oh my word she’s such a loser” shares Zoe.
With a phenomenal social media presence, Zoe has learned that in this information age it is important to interact with people or fans. She uses platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to give her friends and followers a personal encounter with Zoe Modiga’s life.
“I like to show off my achievements to show that they are achievable but at the same time, I’d like to be like hey man I don’t have petrol in my car because I’m trying to chase this dream and what it means to me, unfortunately, ” she says.
In between laughter and crazy outbursts of spontaneous song, Zoe understands who she is and has mentioned that this is a dominant theme in her first independently produced album Yellow: The Novel.
“Yellow is my favourite colour, yellow is the thing that I want to embody. When you look at yellow you see happiness, and for the longest time that’s been my main pursuit and not just happiness, but joy.”
When creating the album, Zoe wanted the various dimensions of yellow to be showcased and this is evident in the contrasting sounds that can be heard in each song.
Zoe has created a piece of work that allows every individual hearing it, to come to a place of introspection and facing oneself. She would like listeners to experience her album the same way one would read a novel, alone in a comfortable space.
The music was written during a challenging time in her life, where she, unfortunately, could not complete her degree and was kicked out of university.
Even though she felt like a failure because she was unable to live up to the standards of her academic family she turned things around and asked “how do we change this? So how do we do this God?”
Moving back to Johannesburg from Cape Town was a decision Zoe made that carried an underlying desire for a challenge. “Let’s just go be the small fish in a big pond again” as a sense of determination rang on the end of her syllables.
She pursues music wholeheartedly and recalls hearing a man speaking at her high school (The National School Of The Arts) that birthed a small flame in her heart, “He said when you love something it keeps you up at night.” And from that moment she wanted to embody that statement.
“Music is like an itch and you just want to scratch it and scratch it and it never ends. Creating wounds all over yourself and that’s how I relate to it,” says Zoe.
“Incidents happen in your life sometimes, sometimes they’re bad and sometimes they’re good. But they’re literally there to shift your whole space so you can get to a higher level,” she says.
Zoe Modiga has performed in various places that many musicians have not yet ticked off their bucket lists. The 2010 world cup, the Cape Town Jazz Festival, and the Voice season one. Zoe was the winner of the SAMRO competition in 2015, she sang in the South African movie: Noem My Skollie and has had the amazing privilege of being mentored by South African artist Lira.
Zoe’s recollection of being a contestant on The Voice SA was that it was “All over the place. It was great but it was a lot. It was both amazing and stressful.”
“I want my career to have many faces that allow me to be an agent of change in many ways,” says Zoe as she shared her heart for the homeless and her eyes swelled with tears for their struggles. “With #ShakeTheWorld I want it to be practical, I don’t have the bullet points of what that is just yet, but we’re heading in that direction,” she says.
Zoe’s album is being launched on the 24th of March at the Johannesburg Theatre in Braamfontein. To book tickets click here
Follow Zoe Modiga on Instagram @zoemodiga