By PHYLLIS HO
WHEN Sarah Zainal was a teenager, she never really bothered with fashion. Now that she’s 29 and a successful electro-pop singer-songwriter who goes by the name Ze!, well, the pictur e here pretty much speaks for itself.
Ze!, who’s from Kuala Lumpur, has been making a name for herself in the local music scene with her quirky, colourful style, but she says she wasn’t always this way.
“Back when I was in a band, we always went out for parties and that was when I started to be conscious of what I was wearing. From there I started to really love fashion,” said Ze!, whose fashion is heavily influenced by ‘80s style icons like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
Ze! first started performing with two girlfriends at the end of secondary school, but while her partners-in-crime lost interest, Ze! enrolled in the School of Audio Engineering (SAE) and started getting serious about her music career.
And it’s a good thing she did, because her solo career has brought her to cities like Melbourne, Berlin, Vienna and Paris.
“The most fun part about touring is the travelling, and all the adventures and misadventures of just getting from one gig to another. A lot of things can go wrong,” she said, adding that she loves performing in Europe the most.
“Their parties are crazier, so it’s a lot of fun. It’s the whole culture where they really just express themselves. (Performing there) was an eye-opener for me.”
Ze! has also toured with Joachim Garraud, a French DJ who has collaborated with musicians like David Guetta. “He’s like a huge international DJ, and touring with him has been great because I get to meet all these big producers from everywhere.”
One important thing she learned from performing abroad is how much discipline it takes to be a top DJ.
“You’d be surprised how much it takes to be doing all these tours. On weekends, they could be doing two or three gigs a day so you really have to focus, or you’re not gonna make it,” she said.
Having just got back from a tour in Europe, Ze! is now working towards releasing her third album, and she’s not taking anything for granted.
“From when I started, it’s always been just about being able to have as many people listen to my music as possible,” she shared. “When I look back, I’m just happy that I’ve been able to do what I love to do, because there are people who just dream but don’t go for it.”