The UK country music scene is a fast growing one, and today I got to interview one of the most talented and vibrant artists on the scene. Zoee is an Australian artist who now resides in Scotland, and has had an interesting road to becoming a country musician (fortunately she isn’t the captain of an ocean liner – read below to find out more!). We first featured Zoee back in October, so this week caught up with the artist to talk all things music! Here’s our chat!
To start, can you give us an insight into how an Australian country singer finds herself causing a real stir on the Scottish country music scene?
Ahh thank you! Well that is a really interesting story!! And one I can say has had some incredible twists and turns of luck and luck-out!! The story is a song and a book and a film all inside itself I’m sure! Someday maybe. Haha!
In 2014/15 my family and I took a self-promoted tour to the US where I booked a bunch of shows and performed for the very first time publically! I came back to Australia with a real taste for performing in front of a crowd and that was it. Music has always been in my family throughout the generations, but after this it was really hot in my blood!!
How did it all start for you and what is it about the country music genre that attracted you in the first place?
For me music has always been a huge part of my life and family. Growing up and as a kid my brothers and I lived pretty rural, by the southern Australian coast. It was so rural that we actually didn’t have phone or TV reception, it was right by the oceanside. For me there wasn’t much time for anything else but listening to music, exploring and learning everything I could from books and the incredible life of nature and animals around me, wild and tame alike. I loved it! (Being home-schooled, education has always been a huge part of my life! I love exploring and travelling, riding motorbikes, four-wheel driving, fishing, beachcombing, scuba diving, photography and sometimes a little surfing).
When I was young, Mummah and Daddeh always had cassettes and vinyl’s playing around the house and I remember always picking up old records listening to so much fantastic music, from Loretta Lynn, Rod Stewart, Dolly, Emmylou, right through to Meatloaf and AC/DC, Jimmy Barnes, Anne Murray and Air Supply, (and by “picking up” I mean “borrowing” on a no-return policy. Lol.)
Dad always had music playing in the shed while he built things and mummah while she was out with the animals, chickens, budgies, parrots, ducks, dogs and wallabies. There has been so much music and so many styles of music through my growing up years but what I continually noticed was a pattern in all of these great classic songs and albums . . . they were telling stories! For as long as I can remember I loved telling and hearing good stories.
That’s what hooked me the most. Listening to the music from yesteryear was like I was hanging out with Willie Nelson listening to him tell me about his days on the road, suddenly I was right there with him, back on the road again.
I had always written stories and kept journals, and one day some of my poems/logs became lyrics that I would play while messing around on my dad’s cherished and softly burnt down Maton guitar.
Music from there quickly became something I couldn’t stop. I now write in the car, on the plane, before I fall asleep at night, I’ll sing something in the shower on the way to play a festival and have to take it down; I’m always writing about my adventures.
For me country music tells a story, and telling the dynamic and crazy story that has been my life til this point, has truly made me the happiest little possum.
Did you always want to be a singer?
Not really. I had huge plans as a kid to be the Captain of the Queen Mary! I did all the research on how long the training would take me and the costs involved, etc.
When I got a little older, maybe 10 or so, I realised that might not be quite as easy to achieve as I once thought. I realigned my thoughts and passion for travel to wanting to become a commercial airline pilot for Qantas so I could fly all over the world, or at least that’s what I thought. At that age I had all the forms pre-filled out and ready to send off as soon as I was old enough (and financially able to!). In college/uni I studied “Travel Management and Tourism” in the thought of possibly one-day pursuing my childhood piloting dream career at that point. I finished all my higher education courses by 18, and I was informed that I was the youngest in the Southern Hemisphere to do that in that field; which was pretty humbling looking back.
I always loved music and always sang around the house, but I never realised it was something I wanted to do professionally until I was about 15 or 16 when I wrote my first album of songs and recorded them with my Dad for fun. I’ve always loved helping people and I realised then how much I could do with music and how many lives I could potentially effect by pursuing a career down that road. I’ve always loved helping folk, so I think that was the real turning point for me.
We first featured you back in October with your excellent single ‘It’s the Weekend’. It seems like it’s been a busy few months on the live circuit for you since?
That was such a lovely feature by the way, thank you Belles & Gals!! Honestly 2018 was an incredible year for me, getting to perform at so many fantastic venues with my band, winning the Millport Country Music Showcase, being taken on as the Maverick Magazine’s first ever emerging artist, landing my first ever feature film soundtrack was such an amazing experience, supporting John Taylor (Californication), multiple festivals across the UK and in London/Glasgow and getting to bring out 3 official singles which hit the charts and one in particular, ‘Town’ even topped the Scottish New Music All-Genre Global Chart, which had me smiling like a clown for a good two days solid I’m sure!!
Overall 2019 is shaping up to be an equally fantastic year and I have some exciting things on the horizion to share very soon
If you had to pick a highlight from your career, what would it be?
Hmmm… That’s a good question! I think the biggest highlight so far would be hearing the words of my own songs sung back to me!! For me, I always try to bring an element of enlightenment and positivity to people through my songs and music and through my social media, blogs, interviews, etc because I like to influence my followers and ‘tribe’ to live life to the fullest and really feel every moment of the short life that we have… So when I walk out on a stage in a foreign city and hear the words of my own songs sung back to me, I pretty much melt onstage. It’s just such a warm and incredible feeling!!
(*Dear Tribe, if you ever want to see me break into all kinds of weird explosive emotions on stage, its simple, just plot a huge massive sing-along and the desired results will be achieved I assure!! Lol)
Is there a particular artist that has influenced you more than any other in your career?
Hmm. This is a good one. I am inspired by so much, from music through to events and people and life, but a single artist in particular who has inspired me would be Sir Rod Stewart. Growing up as a kid I would have Roddie playing on my cassette player at night, and from the age of 4 I can vividly remember falling asleep to his husky and soothing voice, every night, without fail. Through music I adventured with him so many places. Roddie will always be such a huge inspiration musically to me.
Let’s play a game of Desert Island Discs! You get to take three albums with you. Which three do you choose?
Ohhh now THIS is hard! Okay… I’d of course take Garth Brooks “Ultimate Hits” for ‘Two Pina Coladas’, “Midnight Sun’ and ‘The Beaches of Cheyenne’…. I’d also take fellow singer-songwriter and friend Graeme Connors “North” because that is such a soothing and homely album and sound. And probably as a third I’d choose Zac Brown Band’s “Jekyll + Hyde” because that collection of songs would make me definitely feel and appreciate the adventure of being on a desert island!!
Being a website based in London, it can be tough for us to head up to gigs in Scotland. What can you tell us about the Scottish country scene – we hear it’s fantastic?!
Firstly can I say I just love what Belles & Gals are doing for artists and listeners across the UK!! You guys are connecting so many folk and really have developed such an incredible platform for country music and women in country music, which I am so pleased for.
I think the Scottish country music scene, and the British Country Music Scene alike, are fastly growing into one of the biggest genres in the country!! Three years ago when I moved to the UK it was such an understated scene, especially as an unsigned artist, but I can see the opportunities to really find a platform are changing by the day with new festivals and promotors in the genre popping up everywhere.
What the lovely Bob Harris and his family are doing and have done for British and Scottish country music scene has been phenomenal…. Bob has been such pioneer and bridge builder for the UK Country Music with his endeavours through BBC Radio 2 particularly and more recently ‘Country 2 Country’ festival, having really roped the scene across the Atlantic in the US with the UK predominantly. He really has opened the doorway for Nashville to the UK I believe and it’s incredible to see the changes and to be on the forefront of such an incredible milestone in history! I am thankful and humbled to be where I am in this point in time and making the music I get to make, and building relationships with so many fantastic people along the way!
To finish, tell us about your plans going forward in 2019!
What a year it’s been already!!! 2019 shot into gear by getting to support the incredible Elles Bailey in the legendary King Tuts in Glasgow on the Scottish leg of her UK tour and earlier this month I was able to confirm that I got to spend a little time with the lovely Bob Harris team for an ‘Under the Apple Session’ in England where I was invited to perform one of my new song’s “Stay”….which may or may not be available to you to stream very soon…..No confirmations at all 😉 (You can see the live version here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMf-cweiPNg)
I am actually in the middle of confirming a bunch of new festivals for 2019 and can say that this year performing is going to be a BIG one!
I am also super excited to announce that for the first time I have a full U.K Tour in the works!!!!! (You are the first to hear it!!)
I’ll be visiting London, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester to name a few!! I will be releasing more cities soon!! (If you would like to stay updated on my adventures you can sign up to become a part of my “tribe” here –www.Zoee.uk/join-mailing-list (I tend to shy away from the segregation of the word “fans”. Lol)
Beyond that I’ve been in the studio working on my upcoming and official EP with The Band (the first of many I can assure) and I am extremely excited to share this later on too. Overall it’s started out as a fantastic year and I’m stoked for what is to come!!
Being independent there will always be some incredible adventures making it all happen but to me that’s just half the fun! I hope to see you on the road somewhere very soon! Thank you for taking such amazing care of me and always, thank you for listening!
Interview conducted by Nick Cantwell (twitter.com/nickbelles_gals)