Elo Zar talks about her #SurrealSoReal showcase

By Misha Solanga
06 July 2017

Elo Zar is an electropop singer and songwriter born in Soweto. The queen of quirk as she is called brings different and an artistic vibe and a beautiful voice she offers an alternative sound, which she describes as “house stripped down”. Elo has been on the scene for some time and on June 15, she sold out her “Surreal So Real” showcase, which took place at the Sci Bono Discovery Centre.

We got to interview Elo about herself and the success of her show.

Elo, when did the love for music and song writing start?

My love for music really started in church. See I went to 2 types of churches, a Catholic Church because I attended a catholic school and a Pentecostal church on Sundays. This is where I learned harmony and the warmth that comes from music. I did the choir thing from primary school and was part of the church choir. Music became my companion and escape. Song writing I learned in high school, my friends and I would pick out lines and phrases from songs we liked and merge them together then change the lyrics and voilà, we have an "original" song. We sang all the time, if not loudly then we're humming.

How did you get into electropop or how did you decide that it was what you wanted for your music?

It really started with the time I was a house music vocalist and worked with a producer/dj that called himself The Dawn (Mosa). We recorded in his back room ko Meadowlands and I believed he could do anything. He is talented and I was exposed to so many genres of music. We wrote a song called Khau Hambe (a Sesotho girl writing isiXhosa ). Honestly I grew loving house music. I'd sometimes imagine how certain song would sound if you stripped down the beat and that's when I got into what we didn't call electronic music yet it is very much that. In time I met Tshepang Rambo Ramoba. He didn't just like rock music as I did but he played it too and he produced a song call Rabubi by Moonchild. That's when I committed to being an electronic music singer but not restricted to it. Then I got exposed to London Grammar and Florence And The Machine, then there's Nonku Phiri and I turn around there's Petit Noir and Nakhane. Remember the group Love Glory, my friend Mosa Sekele was there, then there The Brother Moves on? I decided not to choose a genre rather colour outside the lines and use all the colours in the box and add paint if the box gets empty

You have got a good following and people really love you and your sound, did you ever expect it to be like this?

I'm honestly more concerned about sharing my stuff and my journey with as many people as possible so to have more than 10 followers is quite humbling and scary all at the same time.

Being different in an industry that’s filled with “the same type of vibe” and little variety, you are a definitely different. Does your music, style and look go towards being different in the industry or is it just you?

Well I never fitted in ever since I could remember so I'm about different and want to play that supportive role which reminds people to be different and embrace it's  and I'm ever evolving.

Elo performing at the Sci Bono Discovery Centre. Source: VBO.media Elo performing at the Sci Bono Discovery Centre.

You recently had a sold out show at the Sci Bono Discovery Centre for your #SurealSoReal showcase on June 15th. How does it feel knowing that you had that much support and that your brand and music is growing?

It was and still is surreal. Honestly its pressure but I'm more grateful and very excited about the future because it means I can be an African and represent without being the stereotype. I really appreciate everyone who came through, what a gift. To see people believe in even when at times you question and doubt yourself. They help get over myself.

For someone who has never come across or heard of you or your music how would you describe it to them?

I usually just say "I don't know" and just hand over my headphones and make them listen and send them a link to my SoundCloud account.

However if my phone is dead or something id simply say imagine house music stripped down, slightly slower tempo and add a touch of strange but cool sounds you hear on a game like Super Mario sound track with heart felt lyrics and soulful vocal performance (it's a lot neh?!)

Lastly I would we would love to know, who inspired and continues to inspire Elo Zar?

Life, rebellion and adventure. But in human form it's the likes of Daft Punk, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Brenda Fassie, Christine and the Queens, Laura Mvula, Little Dragons, Zebra and Giraffe, Foals, Kurt Elling, James Blake, Fink, Submotion Orchestra, Hillsong United, Khaya Mthethwa, Kanye West, Selina Gomez, Erykha Badu, Salon Keita and many more. Music is a world and there's so much to discover and try out and even play with.

Take a listen to Elo Zar's "Be It" Remix

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