Zahava ~ liner notes
This is an all-vocal-looping record. All of the sounds were made by my voice or body. I began using the loop machine a few years ago as a composition tool to capture ideas because I couldn’t notate quickly and needed a fast way to document musical thoughts. It took me a number of years to feel comfortable enough to use the loop machine as a form of accompaniment. On the journey of learning to do a new thing with myself, I have had to face my impatience, criticism and doubt, and have found that in many ways, this creation journey has mirrored the challenge I experience to be at home with myself. I grapple with not wanting to be defined as any one thing, whether that is the type of personality, professional, or musician I am. I think we have different parts to our identities that are in conflict, but which can be harmonized as we grow into ourselves. I am a person of several voices, and now a choir of one. The record is titled Zahava, my middle name, to acknowledge my pursuit to learn and accept all the parts of me.
I hope something in this music may inspire you to find home in your self too.
I had the great fortune to be part of a wonderful children’s choir, the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, as a youth. It was the most seminal musical education of my life, and influenced me in so many ways, one being my approach to creating music as predominantly from a choral and arrangement-minded base. I tend to hear the harmonies of a song before I know the melody. In terms of reference points, I describe this music as ‘Bobby McFerrin meets female pop’. I don’t adhere to a particular genre in my singing or writing, so the music I create is a blend of influences and styles. I was trained as a classical singer and was exposed to a variety of styles early on, from opera to jazz, world, RnB, pop, liturgical, and have listened to all kinds of music throughout my life. All of these voices make up my choir of one.
One of the enlightening reflection points of this project is acknowledging that, although it is a solo record and a lot of time was spent by myself creating, in order to realize its fullest potential, the spirit and talents of others were needed at each level of manifestation. I am grateful to Justin Abedin for navigating the project, being a constant support, and contributing in all the ways that help a person learn and grow. He suggested an all vocal looping record to me years back, and it took a while to take the recommendation to heart. He listened to all of the content I had gathered over 2-3 years’ time, and intuited the potential in raw ideas that I would have discarded. I am ongoingly inspired and educated by the heart and dedication he has for creation, and the space he gives to musicians and writers of all levels. Sarah McCully came on board to work with us as we filtered down the content to the 6 songs on this EP. I value her sharp ability to distill, her forthright honesty in pursuit of the story, and her encouragement to go to vulnerable places to draw out the roots of an emotional seed. I am grateful to our mix engineer Kai Koschmider for his skill, amazing musical sensibility and enthusiasm. I thank Joao Carvalho for his adept mastering talent (mastering all vocals is harder than it may appear) and his team for their assistance.
“Zahava” means “golden” in Hebrew. I welcome the notion that we are born golden – unblemished and unburdened – and then, as life happens, we acquire our various traumas, griefs and grievances, which cause us to lose connection to our intuition, spirit – the ‘gold’ inner light that can serve as a guide. My name reminds me that the gold in all of us - our beauty, wisdom, power and peace - will be best harnessed when we come to feel at home with all of our self.
The songs here explore themes of self-awareness and empowerment; of recognizing inner needs, behaviours, beliefs, the confrontation of our selves with our outside environment, and the paths to home.
Superpower confronts the truth of wanting solidity, depth and partnership in intimate relationships, but told from the perspective of a person who is both the ‘player’ and the ‘pawn’.
Oh Yeah How often do we actively reflect on our life happening? This song represents a moment of awakening, like when you remember something you had forgotten about a dream that all of a sudden comes back in a flash, that allows you to stand outside of yourself and contemplate. When we are given this moment, we may realize that there were dreams for our lives that we forgot, or modes of operating in the world that we have fallen into that do not serve us. Those moments are daunting to confront, but they are insights into our authentic selves, and may offer a fresh vantage point from where we can choose to heal and evolve.
Over The Wall The wall is whatever it is that holds us back from living in a “golden” state and feeling at peace with ourselves. We are constantly obstacled with walls, external and internal, physical and psychological, that barricade us. We wall ourselves off emotionally to survive this world, we are taught to create psychological walls where none exist, we are cattled to climb to get ‘somewhere’... and we suffer. This song is as much an ask from Me to Me as it is an ask from Me to Others, the message being: Let us first hold our own selves up, be our own strength and support, and then once we know what that is for us, be able to ask it from others.
Trouble Up It is not always apparent when we are struggling behind the wall, especially to our own selves. This song is about resurfacing depression and the anxious mind. It was an expression of angst that came out in music, to ultimately realize the need to address mental health concerns that I had resisted. Being honest with ourselves, and others, is an ongoing exercise, and we each must develop different tools to practice that.
City Lights In a big city you can’t avoid other people. This song was written before the pandemic, and even pre-covid, I sensed people's stress through veiled aggressions that signalled to me a greater turbulence being felt inside the walls. The unnatural modes we have established for our urban existence, and the chains of upward mobility that surround us in the city, keep us feeling uptight. This song is about the strain of city living.
Honey This song is about finding the mantra of guidance and goldenness for yourself. We rarely see our own gold. We encounter walls, we feel troubled, the city lights and its people are stifling. At the end of it, my message to Me and to You is to steer clear of outside forces that will suck us in and drag us down, and instead, strive to look within, respect ourselves and trust our inner wisdom. Honey, life is too short to waste your time.