ISSUE TWO - ZOEE
Infectious Electronic Dance Pop Made For Moving To
When we met with Zoee in Hyde Park, it was one of those rare mid-Autumn days that was sunny from start to finish, and sunny from start to finish is exactly how we would describe Zoee’s music. Infectious electronic dance pop fashioned around an assembly of synths, Zoee is the moniker of London-based Harriet Pittard. Zoee’s route into music is an unconventional tale of leaving behind an unfulfilling industry job to make music herself. An unusual story for an equally as unusual sound.
Known for collaborations with fellow London dwellers The Rhythm Method and Joe Goddard of Hot Chip, it is Zoee’s rousing work as a solo artist which is grabbing people’s attention, and keeping it. Intrigued by the idea of serial monogamy, Zoee’s EP titled ‘Insecure’ was launched into the world in 2017. As a first EP, it roars, exclaiming to all who listen how unapologetically unique Zoee’s sound is. However, ‘Insecure’ is more than the title of Zoee’s debut EP, it’s also a concept. February 2018 saw the newly opened Dalston-based venue Set become the 3rd East London venue to play host to Zoee’s club night of the same name. Over a bowl of Central London’s finest chips and a large glass of wine we spoke to Zoee about all things London, relationships, DIY culture and future happenings.
You have a night named ‘Insecure’ how did the idea come about?Originally the first single that I ever put out online was called ‘Insecure’, and then once I had finished the whole EP which the track featured on, I was like 'Oh, I should have a party and EP release’, then it went from there. I thought it would be cool to call a night ‘Insecure’, it felt like some of the music and artists that I’m into cross over with the stuff that I do and there wasn't necessarily a platform for that. I thought maybe this night has legs and can develop into the ‘Insecure’ concept in a bigger way. I'm still figuring it out. The first night was at Vogue Fabrics in Dalston. All the people I’m working with are doing their own thing and are quite independent, so there’s a sense of clarity in what they’re doing. They aren't necessarily championed by a big major label - I want the theme to continue to support things that are very much DIY, under the radar, and just a little bit risk taking as well; insecure in some way. It took me ages to even feel confident on stage. Everything feels quite unstable in the climate that we live in at the moment and everything is expensive and it's difficult to live in London. I guess that also feeds into the sense of insecurity in even just existing and trying to make music and art. It's this broad umbrella term of 'insecure' that I’m looking to explore through the night.
When you perform live it's pretty much you and visuals, is that sort of stripped back live show something that you have always wanted to explore?Originally, I was like 'Ah, I want a full live band, and it will be really live’, and originally had Rowan from The Rhythm Method. We co-wrote the EP together so he would perform with me, and my other good friend would sing with me sometimes. I thought I was a really collaborative person, but I realised that when it comes to doing things live I feel way more comfortable doing it on my own. I constantly worry about other people too much, it takes enough to focus on being on stage without having to worry about everyone else. It's not even my fault that I’m worrying about them, it's completely my nature to worry. It's like, 'Hang on a minute, I could just do this on my own and not have to worry.’ In the future, I would like to have more live elements on stage. I’ve just incorporated a vocal effects pedal on stage, and I think it's nice to have the option to create live sounds. In the long term, I definitely want to expand my horizons on stage, but keep it just me for now. It feels quite intimate, and necessary for me to do it alone right now. I feel like there’s more of a statement in that as well, somehow. One of my best friends Raffal Ziko makes the visuals. He makes video work and sculptures and he's a performance artist as well. We have been really good friends for a few years now, I love his work and often I’ll have a song and he’ll have videos that he's made anyway - then I’ll meet up with him and will be like 'Here's my song' and he'll be like ‘Here’s a video.’ It's one of those really nice friendships that’s worked out really well.
The narrative of your Insecure EP is quite romantic, how did you create the narrative?It’s got quite a lot of romantic elements. It's such a standard thing isn’t it, for people to sing about relationships or the breakdown of a relationship. Or excitement, lust or love – I can't avoid those themes. When I was writing it I’d been in a long-term relationship, so I was coming out of that and thinking about feelings to do with that. It’s a lot more ambiguous, and I’m really interested in my next EP in broadening that idea. The song ‘1-2-1’ sort of pushes into that area, where it's technically about a relationship, but it's more about a concept of serial monogamy, and more about the idea of the human need or desire to be wanted. I see these romantic themes branching out into these other human conversations.
When did you start making music and how?I never made music when I was younger. I always played instruments and sang loads at school but I never wrote my own stuff. I was always making things up, I used to have a radio show with my little brother and we would record it on a tape player. I never really thought 'Oooh, I could make music.’ I never thought of myself as a musician and I still don't really. Gradually as I got into my early 20's I was so into music and I was working in music management and I was like, 'This sucks. I wanna be making music.’ So, I started recording stuff on Garageband and tape recorders and ended up living with someone in London who was making music - one of my best friends now, Tom. We started a band together because he had all of these instrumentals and I was making tracks of vocal sounds and ideas. I was in a band with him for a while and then that kind of ran its course. I kept doing my own thing and now I’m at the point of Zoee.
What about London inspires you?It's so inherent, it doesn't even cross my mind how it actually inspires me, it’s such a given with what I am making and doing. I think I’d only realise what inspires me about London if I wasn't in London. Then, all these things would be missing from the song. It's something I can't pin point, it's a feeling. All the collaborations have come from other people that I’ve met in London. It has such a rich pot of people. There’s so much there I can't even begin to unpick it.
How did you get involved with The Rhythm Method?When I was working in music management, I was in the band on the side. I got to the point where I thought I need to quit my music management job and focus on singing. So I sent an email saying 'Oh, I've left the job', and a music press person said 'Do you want to do some work with this guy Rowan Martin?’ (1/2 of The Rhythm Method) We then got introduced by a mutual friend, and originally me and Rowan would hang out, and then I’d meet Joey (the other half of The Rhythm Method) as well because they lived together in London Bridge, and we would hang out and chat. Me and Rowan started writing music together, then gradually the more stuff The Rhythm Method started doing, they would ask me to perform with them. I sang on ‘Cruel’, and it evolved quite naturally from being mates to doing music together, and now it's more of a permanent fixture, which is quite nice.
What have you got planned for 2018?Working on new ideas and new songs. I really want to release another EP, maybe in the Spring. I'm working on that and looking to get help producing it - it's not finished but I have a clear idea of where I want it to go. I also re-releasing a song from the EP on the label PLZ, it’s a really exciting new label.
Words Grace Goslin
Photos Holly Whittaker
You can buy Issue Two here