Born in Vancouver, BC and raised between South Africa and Canada's West Coast, Zaki spent her life moving between two worlds and there was a constant cultural diversity blending her world together. Raised by South African father and Scottish/English mother, her home was full of fruitful debate, musical inspiration and societal education. Zaki explains "I grew up in an environment where knowledge and learning were key, there was just this constant awareness of what was going on around me and there was a significance attributed to each experience."
Music became a constant in her life. "I have early memories of music holding this esteemed position in our household," Zaki describes, "because most music was banned in South Africa during Apartheid. There were these mixed tapes that went underground that became lifelines to the world around us." Each one of the tapes contained an eclectic mix from house music to jazz to pop and became treasured symbols of infinite possibilities.
In her teen years, she began to connect with local artists, writing and performing, gracing the stage of Capetown's historic Armchair Theatre. She discovered her commitment to continuing creative evolution and cultural connections. 'I was interested in the concept of art documenting experiences," Zaki states. "I wanted to develop my self-expression while exploring my musical community."
EPISODE 2 – The Decision
This exploration led to early collaborations with emcees first in Vancouver and then South Africa and she connected with a broad family of Canadian and South African musicians, composers, and producers, including critically-acclaimed band Tumi & The Volume, Nick Holder (NRK), and Darp Malone. She began touring, as Zaki explains, "the raw feeling of expressing and connecting to strangers from the stage can sometimes be compared with confessing your feelings to someone you love...Making someone smile or cry is a trip when it happens and I don't think the intensity would ever change."
Shortly thereafter, Zaki and Tumi and the Volume connected and toured with arts collective District Six Music to do "The African Way" tour with K'naan and Dj Nana. realized they needed to start handing out music, Zaki's artist development label "Iqra music" and D6 decided to do a short run of a six song EP, titled Shö (Iqra In Orange) simply so that people could walk away with something to listen to. On the EP, Zaki blended soul, jazz and hip-hop to share the spirit and knowledge of her heritage and shared her experiences with those willing to stop and listen. Partnered with a few producers in her Toronto music community, she fully emerged and imprinted herself on the landscape. "With Shö I was making a declaration," Zaki states, "I decided, this is what I want to do with my life, this is the craft that I want to pursue."
Zaki began to build on her talent, swiftly garnering attention, industry and media praise and emerging as a noteworthy talent on both sides of the Atlantic. Zaki's love of performing brings her to the stage frequently, headlining venues across this continent and beyond. She's had the opportunity to share the stage with unique, diversified and legendary musicians, including Toots and the Maytals, The Roots Crew, K'naan, Bedouin Soundclash and Erykah Badu and took on the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem NY.
EPISODE 3 – The Experimentation
Zaki experimented with her music and enhanced it for the live show, changing the arrangements and adding in varied instrumentation. Once off the road, she was eager to explore the concept of remixing some of her music and teamed with producers Chin Injeti and Khalil, in Vancouver for artistic inspiration. "Changing the melody or the rhythm and seeing how it fits into an existing piece of writing is adventurous" Zaki discusses. "I had already been changing up the beats on stage, adding strings or rapping the lyrics, so when I went in studio, Chin played this beat that inspired me to flow a range of lyrics on top of it...one stuck." Zaki is referring to "Grow", which was re-titled "Grow Again", now exuding a heavy-hitting hip-hop anthemic beat.
This experimentation was the genesis of Eclectica (Episodes in Purple). Zaki continued to further expand her environment, collaborating with pioneer Philadelphia based DJ & producer King Britt (Digable Planets). After meeting King Britt in Toronto, Zaki sent him the a-capella vocals to the track "Money". He used his own vision to produce beats that brightened and enhanced the harmonies and melodies with his signature mix. "I couldn't help but be blown away," Zaki recalls. "I like to set the scene, but watching another artist go with it, is thrilling. He turned the original African beat into a serious afro-house anthem!" The song immediately turned heads at the Miami Winter Music Conference, played by taste-maker Dj's like Bugz in the Attic out of the UK.
With a full length album in the works, Zaki will continue to break new ground, challenge assumptions and step outside her comfort zone. Her philosophy of making connections based on a mutual admiration for expression, creativity and the power of words, directs Zaki's path. Expect the unexpected as Zaki continues to grow as an artist.