Shameless! was an album of sorts. Back in 2005 when it was released, Saer Ze’s debutÂ effort was a mix of different genres and an experimental endeavour that helped audiences gauge what kind of artist she wanted to be. 5 years on, she’s back with not only a new album but a new name as well. After much soul searching in the UK and Europe, Ze! is back with I Am Glam, and charging forth in electro pop with the same youthful and quirky exuberance that makes her one of a kind. With most of the production done by Belgian producer Ruben Debusschere, and containing collabos with Docolv (who is also known as French producer Alan de Laniere), Posh! The Prince (currently touring with Lady Gaga) and Ze!’s own sister Miss.osixnine, this spunky artist has only one mission in mind: to make people dance. JUICE sits down with our cover girl to talk music and fashion.
Did you change your name because you felt like it or is there a bigger reason?
I decided to go to the UK (in 2008) and stay there for a few months because at that time, I was at zero-I really did not know where or what direction I was going as an artist. For the past few years I was doing everything from rock to hip hop, so I took a plunge and by being in London, I learnt a lot. It was so inspiring everywhere you went! I realised then that electro really gelled with me and so I shortened my name because I felt like it would represent my music better. Since I’ve changed it, so has my luck! It’s been better so I’m definitely going to keep it!
You have been compared to a lot of different artists. Do you think that’s a good or bad thing?
I’ll take it as a compliment if the artist is cool! Santigold is one of the few artists I’ve been compared to and I got those comparisons way back before 2008. I never even heard of this girl and that was when I checked out her music, and then all of a sudden Santigold became popular after.
Tell us about I Am Glam.
I Am Glam has 10 songs and it took me 4 years to complete. The process of the album itself was a lot of growth for me because it was during my “quarter-life crisis”. It started when I just broke up with my long-term boyfriend, and there was a lot of anger and confusion that came with it. There was also this huge frustration over the local music industry. That was also where the song ‘I Am Glam’ came from: from complete frustration-maybe you can hear it from the chorus (laughs). But at the end of the production of the album, I really found myself and I’m more confident now. So there was a lot of finding myself and my image as an artist.
Which is your favourite track of the lot?
It’s hard to pick a favourite out of the lot, but I really like ‘Ex Lover’ because the beat is really hard and it’s b!tchy! I think that if I do my next album, I will go towards that direction.
You must’ve been excited about your (Space Invaders) Dim Mak tour with Joachim Garraud in June. What were your preparations for this tour?
Yeah, I was very excited. The preparation was in the songs because me and Jacky (Joachim) made 2 new songs, and we’d been working on them for a few months leading up to the tour. For me, it had to be the outfits. It took me 2 or 3 weeks to prepare. On Jacky’s side, he prepared some huge, live Space Invaders show called the Space Invasion Live Show in Sydney and it was massive. Apart from me, Jacky had another singer from the USA called Roland Clark who’s performed with Prodigy and Fatboy Slim, so it was really interesting!
How did you meet Joachim?
We met in Miami when I went to the Winter Music Conference and I have to say, a lot of amazing things happened to me when I was there. Prior to this, before I found out about the tour, we were already trying to work on a song together. So when I met Joachim in the flesh in Miami, he told me about his “aliens and robots” thing he was planning. It was only then that I started to learn more about him and his songs, and I really didn’t know that he produced stuff for David Guetta and other notable DJs.
You’ve been a musician for many years now. What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt so far?
Music has been a very good channel for me to express myself. It’s even better than a diary and music is really the best way to get over a guy. Music has always been there to listen to me and it has never disappointed me.
Any naysayers stopping you from pursuing your dream?
Yeah, of course! But it’s kinda sad that most of the people come from Malaysia. I mean, I’m not ashamed to say it but I am not the only one that goes through this. I hear this a lot from other local artists, but I don’t think that people are trying to say that our local music scene sucks. There are a lot of things that need to be changed but haven’t yet-the same problem that had been going on 10 years ago is still happening today! I don’t know what is being done, but it’s very frustrating!
You have a lot of crazy outfits! Do you design and make all of them yourself?
Yes. As much as I can, I do.
Is making an outfit the same process as making an album?
A little bit. I wear what I feel and I always have a phase. Right now I really like to wear leggings and at one point I was into some particular sort of necklaces. Right now for I Am Glam, I’m wearing lots of leggings and lightning bolts (laughs).
You’ve performed at a lot of places around the world and even been invited to SXSW. Did you actually perform at the festival?
I didn’t get to because it actually takes a lot of money to do it and I didn’t have enough time to get my visa done, so hopefully next time!
What is your most memorable performance?
My most memorable would be my 1st performance in Berlin in 2008 because that was the 1st time I felt I belonged. It was towards the time when I was travelling Europe and trying my luck, so that was good. I would love to perform in Paris, Ibiza and a gay parade. I really want to perform ‘Boys I Like’ surrounded by topless men. That would be my dream. I hope my mum doesn’t read this!
We heard you just shot a music video in LA. Spill!
It was fun! I didn’t know the guy I was staying with-he’s the host of the Sutasi Talent Asia Show-did short films and production. I was telling him that I wanted to make a music video and he was the one that put it all together, and he pulled in all his male actor friends who were all good actors, which only made me look like a goofball! But it was really fun and they are all really talented! I don’t know when it will be out; it’s still in post-production.
Was everything shot in LA?
We tried to get all the really cool graffiti on Sunset Boulevard. We went scouting 1st, and I just love this video because I am the only woman in the video!
Who are your fashion icons?
Betsey Johnson. I love how she combines neon and animal prints but still makes it glam and punk rock.
How about music?
I love Madonna, Peaches, La Roux and-as much as it’s a clichÃ© to say this-Lady Gaga. I don’t know how she does what she does.
If you could be someone for a day, who would it be?
Donald Trump (laughs). He’s got a gorgeous wife and I’d like to see what he does with all that money.
What motto do you live by?
I have a lot! The one that I like to live by now is “Go ahead, make mistakes.”
Lastly, 5 things we didn’t know about Ze!…
I dig my nose, I’m clumsy, I love SpongeBob, I love hot pink and if I go to a karaoke, I like to sing dangdut songs!
I Am Glam is distributed worldwide by Believe Digital and available on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Napster and the Nokia Music Store, among others. For more info on Ze!, log on to ze.com.my or www.myspace.com/zebrainpink. Check out her videos at www.youtube.com/saerze and follow her on www.facebook.com/zebrainpink and www.twitter.com/zebrainpink.