Lover Interview with Zuri Star by Ricky Scott
Ricky Scott Interviewing Zuri Star. Written by Ricky Scott.
I’m super stoked about this interview, mainly because I don’t always get to talk to Zuri as much as I would like because of time differences. I’m in the UK and Zuri is in California. I’ve been working with Zuri on and off since 2009 on music, social media and more recently on I Am Zuri. So I asked if she would be willing to answer some of my questions, which I know a lot of us would really like to know, and she swiftly agreed!
So here it goes:
Ricky: First of all, let’s talk I Am Zuri, where did this idea come from? What made you want to launch this?
Zuri: I had the idea in 2009 to start a platform where I could help people live a healthy lifestyle. At the time I was working with some partners that didn’t like the “I Am Zuri” idea and I was contractually obligated to get approval for using my “name and likeness” for projects, so it didn’t go anywhere. In hindsight, I think they were threatened because it would have required me to really expose myself outside of the music scene and they would lose their perceived control over me. In 2011 once I became free from contracts and regained my spirit I started playing with the idea again. But in 2012 I was so broke from losing label support and didn’t own any music to make money so I had to build a new business to support my passions. It never left my mind for long but it wasn’t until 2015 that I really started to put all the pieces together.
Ricky: What can we expect to find here on I Am Zuri?
Zuri: Music fans aka LOVERS can expect a lot of behind the scenes fun, some sneak peeks, and special offers and they also get an inside look into all the other things I do. When you’re in the music business and have people watching your every move they control the message and what parts of yourself you share. It’s an awful position to be in. But now, as an independent artist I get to say what goes and doesn’t. I’m hoping this platform will inspire all those who come to live healthy and beautiful lives. But if music fans want to opt out of the entire lifestyle platform they can just click iamzuri.com/music and have access to all my music.
Ricky: The last music video you released was Better Than Yesterday, did you expect it to gain as many views as it has? Currently it has over a half a million views. Why do you think it gained so many?
Zuri: I think we touched on an issue that a lot of people weren’t aware of. There’s exposure on human trafficking but a lot of it is focused on children and I really wanted to bring light to the fact that women of all ages are drugged, kidnapped and turned into slaves. It happens here in America and it needs a lot more awareness. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female.
At the time we were highlighting Demi and Ashton’s campaign; “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” and we had some people from that team sharing it on social so I think some of the early traction came from that. Also during that year California was aiming to pass an anti-trafficking proposition and won, so it was a timely decision to connect it to an issue that matters to me. But since 2012 those campaigns have dissolved so we are aiming those interested in helping bring awareness to stop trafficking to a great organization, Rock Against Trafficking.
Ricky: Speaking of Better Than Yesterday, tell us about your new releases since then.
Zuri: I recorded 6 songs around the time of Better Than Yesterday but I didn’t feel that they were a good representation of where I was and how I wanted to be seen. As an Indie artist you don’t have a machine pushing out your music so you have to be sure you love it and your tribe will love it. I didn’t feel confident in myself and was distracted by building out my businesses. For those that join my fan club they’ll get access to those unreleased songs. I then became very ill in 2013 and half of 2014 and discuss more about that in this article on I Am Zuri. For those interested in how I regained my health that may be an interesting read.
In the summer of 2014 I started working again on the current album with Mike Krompass. Mike and I had worked together on the first two albums but we had a falling out after I left the label. We mended our wounds and began writing. The songs we wrote during that summer came very quickly and one of the first written was I’m On The Run. I cover a behind the song look at what went into that track here. The first release was Kryptonite, which we wrote later in the winter, and I’ve also covered all the backstory on that song here. The music was written fast but then pairing our schedules to get these songs recorded was actually a lengthy process. I had to recover vocally and retrain in some instances as I developed some bad habits while I was on downtime. The new album will release in 2017 but subscribers here will get the first listen and download ahead of other platforms like iTunes, Amazon etc.
Ricky: So why eleven?
Zuri: The album title will be “Eleven” and represents a bunch of things in my life. I will dive into that story closer to the release but stay tuned on the backstory.
Ricky: So, I’m just going to mention the elephant in the room… Unrehearsed, your second album never got released, what happened?
Zuri: Elephant is appropriate because it took a huge chunk of time out of my life. For the record I love elephants but I didn’t love the experience of working with a certain music label. I’m grateful for the experience because I learned a lot about myself and the people in my life. I also learned a lot about blessings in disguise and my support system. To summarize, the album didn’t release because I was in a partnership with a label that owned the rights to the recordings, music videos, promo photos etc. I wish I could say it’s a unique story but it happens all the time to artists that get what is called “shelved.”
Ricky: Can we expect to hear any of the tracks that were supposed to be on Unrehearsed?
Zuri: I am no longer in that contractual partnership so I took some time to re-record those songs. One of the songs from Unrehearsed will be on my upcoming album “Eleven” and will be released as a single here.
Ricky: Have you got a favorite track on the new album?
Zuri: I really loved writing all of the songs. But, I think currently my favorite is a song I wrote called “Goodbye.” It’s about holding onto something that you should not have and finally deciding to leave. When I analyze some of my friendships, I definitely have a tendency to stay in a relationship a lot longer than I should. Many of these situations are one-sided, since I tend to be very giving, easy to forgive and then end up getting very little out of the relationship. Sometimes you have to say goodbye, even if it kills you.
Ricky: Who are your major influencers to your music?
Zuri: I was brought up on a variety of music; blues, soul, country, folk, reggae, pop and hip hop, that combination of music makes my influences pretty diverse. I think if you listen to the songs you’ll hear a little bit of every pop singer from the last 50 years. I love the blues and anthem pop so my content tends to be about accepting, overcoming and triumph. I get compared to a lot of people but I don’t sound exactly like what is on radio either so it’s hard for outsiders to say whom influences me. I think comparing yourself to others is the hardest thing for an artist to do and should be left up to you all to decide.
Ricky: You’re pretty passionate about your food, where does this love come from? Why is eating organic so important to you?
Zuri: I was brought up on a farm. My Dad is an organic farming pioneer and author, so I naturally became passionate by way of just being immersed in it from birth. I also became a food activist as an adult and really developed a stronger appreciation for nutrition from parenting and then becoming ill.
Ricky: Other than music and food, what else are you passionate about?
Zuri: Basically everything on I Am Zuri. I really want to influence a happier, healthier, more beautiful way to live.
Ricky: Where would we find Zuri Star when she’s relaxing?
Zuri: Probably snap chatting my current gardening, cooking, decorating or DIY project (username is ZuriStar). When I really take down time outside of my house, kitchen and garden, I like to go to the beach and just watch the waves, pelicans diving, sunsets and kids playing. I also love walking and hiking near the beach. The ocean is my calming place. I love the rhythm of the ocean.
Ricky: Last question, I promise! What 3 things could you just not live without? (Present company excluded :P)
Zuri: Hahaha! I really would not be able to function without my wonderful team, my beautiful family/extended family, and my amazing music fans, the LOVERS. These three tribes allow me to be really fulfilled and excited about this journey. Thanks for interviewing me Ricky and standing by me all these years!