Zoya’s new song “Worth It,” produced by Mark Nilan and Chuck Inglish, is a record we all need in our lives. Born in India, but raised in California, the pop songstress arrives with not only the smoothest vocals but a music business degree. As an alumna of Berklee College of Music, the singer-songwriter takes her craft seriously, putting her heart and soul into each lyric she pens.
Her records are inspired by life experiences and struggles, things we can all relate to at the end of the day.
When it came to her social media presence, she had no problem starting from scratch to embrace the woman (and artist) she wishes to be. With her rebranding, she made it a point to put on for her Indian heritage and culture, while combining a mainstream sound that we can’t help but gravitate toward.
WE TAKE NOTE caught up with Zoya to discuss her new single, what inspires her, her views on self-worth, and her VH1 livestream.
What impact has India made on your life and what was it like coming back to America?
If it wasn’t for India, I don’t think I would have had the courage to come back to America and do all the things I am doing now. In 2014 AR Rahman (Grammy/Emmy winning music composer) talked about me on his social media and my life changed almost overnight. MTV and Rolling Stone India started writing about me and I was like “what is this?!!?” Then I ended up planning a trip to India for one month which turned into… four years!! I toured the entire country playing festivals and opening for so many international artists that were coming to tour India for the first time. What is happening in India is like a mini revolution. The millennial kids want to wear what they want, say what they want and express themselves how they want. It’s the first time the country is seeing rock bands, metal bands, Hip-Hop acts and singer songwriters. It’s truly a beautiful thing to be a part of. To create that kind of change in the country I was born in is an experience I will never forget.
Before coming back to LA, I had the realization that there is little to no representation of South Asian or Indian artists in global pop culture. So I’m hoping to shed light on what’s brewing in my birth country, but also promote a hopeful multi-culture and multi-color future for pop culture and pop music.
Your song “Worth It” brings up a conversation around self-worth. How have you learned to value yourself and what tips do you have for people who want to learn how to value themselves more?
I’m still learning every day. The first step is recognizing where your sense of worth comes from. Validation seems to be our generation’s mantra of “success” and “popularity,” which can be easily confused as worth. We are all victim to it in our own ways. For me, I try to spend moments alone every day doing something positive for my body and mind, whether that be writing, going to the gym, or something as silly as putting on ocean sounds in my room when I sleep. All these things channel positivity. When I’m positive, I’m confident. When I’m working toward something or challenging my creativity, that’s when I feel powerful. That’s my version of self-worth. If you want to value yourself more, the biggest key is to stop caring what everybody else is doing Do what is right for you and believe in that.
What inspires you to create?
I’m always writing, like constantly. I pull over my car so many times a day to jot a line down in my notes. Those little “seeds” are what keeps me inspired most of the time. But what inspires me to create most is when I actually have something real to say. It could be a conversation that triggers me, a movie I watch, or a relationship gone wrong. Whatever it is, it’s habitual at this point and my coping mechanism for life.
How does music help you heal?
The moment I write and record a new song I remember why I am doing this in the first place. That feeling is the best feeling in the world, and I can feel that feeling even in the worst of times. Songwriting has saved me from myself in so many ways because it’s where I can be brutally honest about how I feel about things. Music is where I can turn something beautiful or bad into art.
What can we look forward to seeing during your VH1 livestream?
It’s going to be fun! I’ll be with a bunch of musician friends in the heart of Hollywood. We are going to be premiering “Worth It” from there, and I’m really excited to celebrate that song coming out in the world with VH1. I was so lucky to work with producers like Mark Nilan Jr. and Chuck Inglish this past year, and this song has been our personal favorites. It’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written, so I can’t wait for everyone to finally hear it.