Love him or hate him, gossip bitch Perez Hilton got it right when he predicted Lady Gaga would take over the world – and now it’s New Zealand pop diva Zowie aka Zoe Fleury that’s firmly in his sights. And he’s not the only one singing her praises – you can safely add Mark Ronson, the CMJ Music Marathon, and the New York Times to that list as well.
“CMJ was awesome fun last October,” enthuses Fleury. “It was a real marathon because we played something crazy like seven shows in four days. It was really cool though, because it really throws you into the deep end and you kind of either sink or swim! I’m so happy that we got a chance to do CMJ because it led to some really amazing write ups in big magazines. We even got a write up in the music section of the New York Times. We’re looking to do South by South West as well this year, as well as the UK and Japan. I’ve always had an obsession with Japan since I was really small; it’s always felt almost like another planet rather than a different country!”
For a space cadet like Fleury and her onstage persona Zowie, it’s sure to be a breeze when it comes to cracking the Japanese market in particular. Fleury is excited and confident – never overwhelmed with the speed of her rise to fame which she attributes to her massive single Broken Machine.
“That’ actually a Bionic Pixie track I’d written about three years ago!” says Fleur of her former on-stage persona. “It ended up being just a New Zealand single but it did so well that it went gold over there in just a few weeks. I don’t know the official date yet, but I’m looking to release my album mid this year. I’m not spilling the beans yet about whom I’m working with but it’s a big range of people form all over the globe – from Sweden to Atlanta! It’s definitely been a dream list of legends I’ve always wanted to work with, it’s a range of people who have worked with Adam and the Ants, to Kelis, to Nine Inch Nails. I actually got to write with them too.”
And Fleury doesn’t plan to rest until she can say the same about her idols David Bowie and Grace Jones, which from the looks of it, doesn’t appear likely to be far off in the distant future.
“Also Gary Newman – can you imagine picking apart their brains?” laughs Fleury. “I think just sitting in the same room with them would be enough for me. One of the times that I’ve been the most star-struck was when I met Samantha Maloney who used to drum for Hole. It just felt unreal because she’s always been my top favourite drummer since I was a teenager.”
And drums have always been central to Fleury’s music, long before she even morphed into her latest multi-dimensional character Zowie. For now, it’s best described as futuristic synth-pop, but Fleury reckons she’s already seeing Zowie undergoing a transformation.
“Drumming is my main thing, I always thought I’d be a drummer and I still always play the drums live,” says Fleury. “I wanted the drums to always be prominent no matter how many transformations I went through with the stage personas. It started with Bionic Pixie which morphed into Zowie. I like to talk about Zowie more like the Terminator – she’s back from the future and trying to save the world.”
Add to her pop stylings a bit of electro, some hip-hop, a dash of dance and a little punk, and it’s plain to see why Zowie’s creating some serious buzz among industry bigwigs as well as musical lovers all over the world.
“A lot of it has to do with making the right choices along the way,” offers Fleury. “It’s also really important for people to be able to relate to your songs, whether they like the actual music or whether they relate to your lyrics. I’m constantly on the laptop or on the phone recording stuff – it’s all very personal and straight from the heart. I get asked about being signed to a major label like Sony all the time, people seems to automatically assume that as soon as you get on that kind of roster all your creativity gets sucked out. It’s actually been a total pleasure working with those guys. I had a lot of interest from labels and publishers before I signed to Sony, but it was Sony that understood me the most and helped me make it all happen by organizing recording and writing sessions with some big names in the industry. They’ve loved everything I’ve put to them – even when I’m emailing at 4am and hassling them with my weird ideas!”
Zowie [NZ] plays the Future Music Festival with The Chemical Brothers [UK], MGMT [US], Ke$ha [US] and more on Sunday March 13 at the Flemington Showgrounds.