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Daily Inspiration: Meet Zoe Gavina

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zoe Gavina.

Hi Zoe, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
According to my mom, I have been singing and performing since the age of three. As most Filipino families are, performing at family functions was always a part of the lifestyle and by the time I was five, my parents placed me into piano classes and dance classes. For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed of being a performer for the rest of my life. I always envisioned a life where eventually, I would perform for crowds of thousands and travel around the world sharing my art. From writing songs in my spare time to posting covers on YouTube, I have always aspired to make artistry my life. As ambitious as it seemed, I knew there was nothing else I could see myself doing. In elementary school, I joined a traveling choir based out of my local church which led me to be a part of the choir in both middle and high school. At the same time, I was introduced to the theatre, where I fell in love with being on the stage.

During my sophomore year, I decided to change my 5-year plan to take me down the theatre path where I chose to attend Cal State Fullerton’s theatre program. During this 5-year span, I thought I was going to do musical theatre and eventually make my way to Broadway. Unfortunately, as the program was a cut-based program, I did not progress through to the BFA program. This brought me to reflect and redirect myself once again. After graduating, I realized I had passed my 5-year plan without planning the next five or so years. I knew I needed to perform, I craved it. There was nothing else that brought me as much fulfillment or joy as performing did. This led me to reach out to my friend Liam, who produces music, and it dawned on me that all of the training and experiences I have gathered over the last five years were leading me to that very moment. To reignite the passion I always had for singing and writing music.

In October of 2019, we created our first track ‘LMK’ during a 5-hour studio session. Initially planning to work on a completely different song, ‘LMK’ emerged out of thin air and I knew that this (making music) was what I wanted to do for as long as I could. When the pandemic hit and we were all confined to our homes, music was the only outlet I had to escape and bring me some sort of peace. Like most, I had a completely different plan for how my 2020 was going to go. During an Instagram live with Liam, we began to build a track that was our virtual/musical hug to our friends, loved ones, and selves to push us through this unique time in life. The track, ‘No Worries’, was well received by our audience and reminded us of our purpose on this earth and what I want to accomplish with my art. As cliche as it may be, music really is a universal language that allows so many people to connect, escape, and feel seen. During this pandemic, as unfortunate as the circumstances are, I have been given the opportunity by the universe to reflect on who I am as an artist and how I want to proceed forward with my career. It excites me to see the response my art receives and the opportunities that have opened because I decided to take those steps towards my dreams.

Fine-tuning my voice and constantly discovering and rediscovering who I am as an artist has been a journey but I would not wish to change any of it. With this extra time, I am able to work on my craft and presently live the life I have always aspired to obtain. I am thrilled to see where this journey takes me and cannot wait to release new projects as my story continues to unfold. To all my fellow artists making their way up in the industry, keep pushing. Everything happens in its own time, as it should and when it should. Never compare your journey to another because you do not know what happens behind the scenes. I know I have to remind myself of these things often but as artists, we have a tendency to get lost in the sauce. Never forget that your flavor might just be what someone was looking for.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Absolutely not. In reality, I have been down this music artist path for a little over a year. I had to retrain myself from my theatre-self to discovering what my ‘sound’ was as a recording artist. Stripping my habits of theatre and redirecting my knowledge to align itself towards who and what I could be as a musician. There are many days where I feel as if I am ‘late’ in the game, but I constantly remind myself that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Especially with the pandemic and the restriction that comes with not being able to physically interact with the external world, I find myself in a particularly unique position. With that being said, it is also a beautiful opportunity to be able to go through this process of learning/unlearning and discovering/rediscovering who I want to be and where I want to take myself as an artist. Knowing I function better when I am physically surrounded by like-minded individuals, I had to discover a way to work remotely. This challenge turned out to be a new strength as I am now learning how to create on my own at the same time.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a singer-songwriter going by the name ZOE. and have released two tracks ‘LMK’ and ‘No Worries’ that are available on all music streaming platforms. Those two tracks I consider my children and are just the beginning of what I am capable of. I have always seen myself as a sort of healer. Although I know I find myself writing love/unrequited love songs, ‘No Worries’ proved to me that my natural habit of being a ‘healer’ is more than capable of existing through my music. Being able to connect with people and seeing the various ways my music is received reinstated my purpose here on this earth. Months after releasing the track, I receive messages from people that share their stories of how my music has helped them through this time. Knowing what the song’s context is, it still catches me by surprise and equally warms my heart to know that people out there truly feel the message that I was trying to share. I never wanted to pursue the artist lifestyle because I felt I was ‘the best’ or anything like that. There was this innate, soul level knowing that I could never exactly pinpoint but I knew existed. Something inside of me told me that I HAD to do or die. It was not until 2020 when we were all forced to slow down and reflect on ourselves that all the pieces clicked for me. Storytelling, vulnerability, and sharing my story in hopes that someone out there feels seen and heard are vital for me as an artist and it comes to me so naturally. It brings me so much excitement to be able to see where this path takes me.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
The crisis has provided the opportunity to slow down and truly analyze the ‘moves’ I make as an artist. Being able to have this time to reflect and understand the intentions behind all that I do is something we never had while the world was existing ‘a tempo’. In a way, at least for myself, this unfortunate time has been a blessing as I have been able to look at my priorities and rearrange where needed. Giving myself the proper time for self-care, self-discovery, and healing any wounds that were left on the backburner while I was trying to keep up with the rest of the world. With the pandemic and the BLM and following movements, my desire for humanitarianism and activism has been placed back at the top of my priorities. Being Asian-American, there are few faces like myself that I see up on the screen, stage or in the music industry.

It is a major priority for me to not only integrate my heritage and culture in my art as well as being a face young people looking for themselves can turn to. I know my younger self was constantly searching for that exact thing while I was growing up. Through my journey of discovering who I want to be as an artist, these lessons have become the foundation of my mission statement as an artist. As I am learning, I love to share my growth with my audience because at the end of the day, we are all learning and growing simultaneously. It is only right to do my part to help others grow and flourish just as much as it is important to do that same work for myself. I have always been an introspective individual and never truly realized that other people do not exist this same way. But with my voice and art, I hope to be a sort of guiding light for those who need it and for those who never realized they needed it.

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