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By SHARON JENNINGS
Zaritza followed her dreams leaving behind her native Russia to come to New York. But what she took with her is her drive and her classical music skills. The talented newcomer has released a self-titled album and proves to the world that you can make your dreams come true. We asked Zaritza the important questions:
Tell us about your latest work and how you came to create it? Does it have special meaning to you?
Creating my debut album was a lot of work, but certainly one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had! It took almost 3 years to create, and was written and recorded in different locations. The initial spark of a song idea usually came in the form of a melody or chord that caught my ear while just playing around and exploring at the piano, or that popped into my head at some random moment while going about my day — sometimes appearing in a dream while I was asleep. I would flesh-out each of these initial ideas into piano arrangements and concepts for a song, and then would keep working to cultivate it into a more complete composition — often with input from one of my collaborators — and eventually go into the studio where it would further evolve and be refined into the fully-produced track you hear on the album. Especially considering that it took a few years to write and finalize this album, during a period of significant transition for me, the songs on the album that reflect not only a spectrum of life experiences but also my evolving perspective on them.
This album is very special to me for many reasons, but mainly because it’s my first complete English-language project and I was able to realize into finished form a lot of creative ideas that I’d been nurturing from as far back as my early songwriting days as a kid in Russia! I have to give a lot of credit, and thanks, to my amazing team of collaborators who worked so hard and provided creative input on all aspects of the album, from helping with songwriting to digital programming to performing musical instruments to recording, mixing and production.
What is the secret to a good collaboration? How did you meet your producers?
There is no secret formula for me, really. I think it’s purely a matter of musical chemistry, sort of like falling in love: somehow you just know when it feels right, when something amazing is happening without any plan or effort … there’s really no logical explanation for how or why! If you feel the electricity in the air, the goosebumps on your skin, when you are creating music with someone, then you know you’re both on the same wavelength, where the magic can happen; that’s what matters most. I have met my collaborators and producers though mutual friends and acquaintances, going back as far as the first summer when I moved to America.
What is your favorite kind of music? What is so attractive about that genre?
My music taste is pretty diverse. I love listening to and exploring different genres, from heavy rock to classical — ultimately, it’s all about the composition and especially how it makes you feel, regardless of genre: there are great pieces of music in every category. In recent years, I became particularly intrigued with electronic music and digital production, and how they can transform and enhance the energy, feeling and presentation of a song. That’s why I started experimenting with electronic instrumentation and incorporating my classical background and rock elements into digital production. Generally, I am drawn to beautiful and haunting melodies, cinematic productions and darker undertones in music … and digital technology provides a vast color palette and toolset for creating soundscapes and fully realizing a musical vision.
Where can we follow you and where can our readers catch you live next?
You can check out my music and keep up with my latest news and activities via the following online platforms:
Who are the musicians you most admire and why?
There are so many artists and producers who have inspired and influenced me, but if I would have to pick my absolute favorites, it would be Rachmaninoff, Radiohead, Queen, Garbage, Massive Attack, Imogen Heap, Jeff Buckley, Nine Inch Nails, Prince, Madonna — all of them are/were great innovators and performers who also create/created amazing music. I also must make special mention of Nile Rodgers, who I admire for his accomplishments as one of the greatest (and most versatile) musical innovators and producers and also for his kindness: he generously spent time with me shortly after I first arrived in America and gave me very helpful advice and encouragement.
What do you enjoy about touring? What is the biggest drag about touring?
I haven’t done extensive touring yet, but from the experiences that I’ve had playing a series of shows in close succession and traveling to different venues, I can say that, so far, I’ve really appreciated the entire process. I enjoy spending time on the road with my band members, talking about and listening to a lot of music, and the journey itself always is inspiring: passing by many landscapes, cities and scenes, experiencing new places and, especially, meeting new people and learning their stories.
I would say, however, that eating right can become a bit of a challenge while on a road trip; but at the same time, you can experience different local cuisines if you can take a little time along the way to explore.
What advice would you give other young artists today?
Of course I can only speak from my own personal experience — I don’t consider myself a music industry expert in a broader sense — but I would say the following to any artist seeking to write, record and perform his or her own music: First and foremost you must work very hard and be dedicated to constantly developing and improving your songwriting craft, your musicianship (vocal and/or instrument), your performing style/skills and — not to be overlooked in this do-it-yourself digital age — your marketing and business capabilities. It may take a lot of time to find your own authentic “voice” as an artist, but when you do, and it feels “right” to you, then stay true to your convictions, build your music and your marketing on that vision and never give up. At the same time, try to learn as much as you can from diverse sources of insight — collaborators, producers, other industry contacts, press reviews, fans — and continue to refine your music and how you reach your audience.