Two years ago Zoe moved from Berlin, where she lived many years, back to the island la Reunion, where she has spent most of her childhood.
in the middle of the pandemic, feeling secluded at times, she raised two street cats, began working on the record "Hermitage" and spent countless hours on writing and recording the songs.
It may be an album that contains many topics and feelings, but the title for the album mostly describes the overall process she went trough while thinking and meditating about life and living.
Your new album is called: Hermitage. Which is someone who lives in isolation or about Isolation itself. Why did you choose this title for the album?
I had been thinking about the title for a while but when I stumbled upon the word "Hermitage" it felt exactly right. Two years ago I moved to a small island and left behind the city life I had in Berlin.
It also happened in the middle of the pandemic, so at times, I felt a bit secluded. But it was also wonderful in so many ways. Life here is wonderful.
For me hermitage also means a time for thinking and meditating, and I definitely did a lot of that. And lastly, there's this lovely little creature called the hermit crab, which changes houses, or shells, several times in its life, and I can relate to that as I have been moving several times in my life as well. And I had chosen Reunion as my new little shiny shell.
We’ve been talking quite some time about the song „life is strange“ on the phone, which is one of my favorites on the album.
Life is strange
Just when you think you have it all
There’s a tingling in your bones
You want more
You climb up to the top
And then you say goodbye
One more time
The people in the park
They’re carefree and they love
You want some
But when you can’t arrive
Always thinking about
The next five
You’re outside of time
Life is strange
Life is strange
When you’re a stranger
Would you tell us a bit about the meaning of the song and it’s background?
The idea for that song came to me when I was sitting on my balcony one night.
I was feeling a bit down I suppose and came to the melodramatic conclusion that life is, indeed, strange.
I thought about changing the lyrics several times because it's so raw and "to the point", but ultimately, changing them felt wrong. It is what it is.
But I guess the overall theme of the song is the feeling of alienation, of feeling like an outsider, which I think a lot of people can relate to in some way or another. It also talks about the endless pursuit of happiness and not being able to be in the moment. We often focus on what could be instead of appreciating what's around us.
Tell us a bit about your songwriting process. Do you know where the songs come from?
Do you write the lyrics first, after the melody, or both at the same time?
It depends. Sometimes melodies and words just come to me when I'm playing around on my guitar.
I find that those are usually the better ones, because they just come naturally.
Other times I will first create the instrumental part and obsess over that first, and only later will I write lyrics for it.
But I've also started songs where I had the lyrics first. Really there's no rule or process for me.
As to the question where songs come from: I really don't know but I find it pretty magical, the concept of putting something into the world that has not existed before.
You are someone that can dive in for hours into work (recording songs or painting, doing graphic designs) and I remember even when you were a kid did you have this incredible patience.
Is it your superpower?
Thank you, I guess? I don't know, I think when I love something then I can do it for hours.
Also, I don't like when things are done halfway, I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times, so I can forget about the time. But with music, it's often because I get lost in it. When you're in that flow, you don't really want it to stop because who knows if you'll be able to pick up where you left it.
Often I start working on something thinking "Oh, I'll just quickly make that change here" and then end up spending hours on the project, I get sucked right into it.
Would you say it’s more of a prophetic album or a dealing-with-the-past one? It also may be both, but sometimes I feel songs are either there because you embark on a new journey or you reflect about the path that brought you to this point in life?
It's a bit of both. There is reminiscing about the past - I think I'm a bit nostalgic in nature, but there is definitely also some wishful thinking in it and some hope for the future.
Has the making of this album changed somehow how you see life?
I wouldn't say that the album has changed how I see life. I think it's more the result of the hours I have spent thinking about life and living. Making the album just helped me to put it into words I suppose.
What part plays love is your songs or in the process of making music?
Isn’t it always about love somehow? The search for love inside oneself, the love for music, dreaming of finding someone to love.
Yeah, I guess it always revolves around love one way or the other: Both it's presence and absence.
Whether it's the love (or lack of) of another person, of yourself, of a place, a circumstance.
But I don't necessarily start a song, thinking I'm going to write about it. I think love is so central to our lives that it just always ends up being there, whether I was planing on it or not anyway.
I know you can be quite shy in public - could you imagine to play your songs live one day?
It's true, I am quite the introvert so the idea of putting myself "out there", physically and emotionally, I find it terrifying.
I also have terrible stage fright but I guess this is just something I have to overcome. Once you're up there, the fear starts to fade eventually.
What are your favorite songs on the album?
I'm not sure... I really enjoy singing "Perfectly Fine" and "Tiger Lily".
But then I also loved working on those horns in "In the Blood", the making part of it was really fun.
But ultimately I love all of them. I really wanted to make sure that I'm proud of all of them and I'm not making an album just for the sake of having an album.
Please share 3 of your favorites songs of all time
(and maybe a short explanation why?)
That is such a hard question. Of all time? Only three.. God. I need at least 5.
Link to the music:
(you can find her music also under the name ZOALA on youtube, Itunes, apple music and many more. Or on Instagram under the name: itszoalarming.