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Zoe Mina: “Diversity is priceless when it comes to entertainment”


There are so many amazing movements out there right now — black lives matter movements; movements for women empowerment, LGBTQIA rights; and so much more. Aside from supporting each of these wholeheartedly, I would like to throw in-school programs for the arts. There are so many kids who could benefit from more art programs, and I’m not just talking about music. If the school’s art programs could support fundraisers for causes like those I mentioned above, that would be even cooler.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Zoe Mina.

Zoe Mina is an accomplished pianist and singer, focusing her talents on writing more modern music as well as composing film scores, video game music, and sound design. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Production at Full Sail University, having graduated in the class of May 2020. Zoe has been playing piano for well over ten years, singing for over five, and songwriting since the beginning of her musical journey. She released her first EP, Blue in July of 2019, her single Mr. No Name in February, and her most recent single Walking on Ice in April — Both in 2020. Having largely worked solo, she has experience in collaborating with peers and fellow artists, having featured on Matt Luther’s single Danielle Strong in 2019.

Zoe is half American, half Swiss, and grew up in New York City. She has lived in Seattle Washington, Switzerland, and Italy — giving her an open mind and a curious soul. Beginning to seriously songwrite in Turin Italy, Zoe found her voice in her music and began singing in order to become a singer-songwriter — despite numerous mentors instructing her otherwise. After her family moved back to the states, she came into contact with a new mentor who supported her music and her dreams and was the first to make the connection between Zoe’s songwriting style and film score composition. Mid-year 2018, she started experimenting with orchestral samples through her MIDI gear and DAW, and fell in love with completing hybrid orchestral scores. Zoe Mina is now pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter, and a video game sound designer and composer.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Zoe! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you so much for having me! I grew up in a half American, half European household. I have one younger brother, and we are and were a very close-knit family. I was born in Seattle, WA, and lived in Switzerland for a few of my toddler years before moving back to the States to New York City — which is where I spent most of my childhood. I was homeschooled, giving me an opportunity to spend my time doing the creative things I loved; painting, arts and crafts, music, and writing. This time gave me an appreciation for music, and I began to play piano at the age of eight years old. When I was twelve, my family moved to a city in Italy called Turin, or Torino. It was a beautiful experience, despite not knowing the language or any people there at first. Moving to a different country with a different culture was eye-opening, and if I had the choice, I would do it all over again. We moved back to the states when I was sixteen years old, back to NYC, and stayed there for about a half a year. We traveled the states in an RV after and stayed in Berkeley, CA for a few months before moving to Vienna, Virginia — where we lived for three years. During that time, I decided to pursue a degree in college, and so I enrolled at Northern Virginia Community College just before my eighteenth birthday, majoring in classical piano with a minor in classical voice. I received an invite to the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) in my second semester. I spent five semesters there and transferred to Full Sail University for a Bachelors in Music Production. I just graduated this year with the title of Salutatorian.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Music has always been a massively important part of my life. When I was a toddler, I would stand in front of a speaker just staring into it, completely entranced by the sounds coming out of it. I just was never sure about making it into a career, because as everyone knows the music business is harsh and unforgiving. I did not consider music as a career until I was fifteen years old, which was when I seriously started songwriting. I simply could not imagine myself doing anything else, day in and day out, for the rest of my life without starting to hate my career.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

As a solo artist, distribution is not a fun task, and luckily I had the assistance of a kind mentor to get me through the first release. I met the owner of Luthercorp Records sometime after. Matt Luther was a fellow classmate, and eventually, we knocked out a distribution and promotion deal for my single Mr. No Name. When I began doing my own mixing and mastering with Walking on Ice, I ended up handing over the mastering to Luthercorp Records as well as continuing on a contractual basis hiring him for distribution and promotion. I was wary of working with a record label originally, due to some bad press they have gotten over the years, but Matt Luther is a great acquaintance of mine and having someone you can trust with your art is invaluable.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Honestly, the funniest mistakes are usually rookie mistakes that still happen every once in a while. I’ll forget to turn off the click/metronome when bouncing out a file, a fade in/out, or something just as simple. The details are the trick, and that’s something that was drilled into us by our instructors a lot.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I actually just released a single — called ONE — on the first of July, which will be on an album to be released early next year. This was a really special project to me because I wrote it specifically for the BLM movement. I started pursuing a career in music because I had something to say, something to give voice to, and that is the reason I am still writing. I wanted to use my music to speak about things that really matter, and this topic is one that is very, very important to me. Together with my friend Kristina Little, who is a very talented dancer, we created a music video for ONE — which was my very first music video, and a fantastic experience.

I also have another single coming out in mid-August, the release date yet to be announced, and another single in production.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is priceless when it comes to entertainment. If every person on the screen is the same, what does that say about the audience? It says that we are all the same — for better or worse. I don’t know about you, but I do not want a world where we are all the same. I like our world with differences and imperfections because that makes it beautiful to me. As someone who was transplanted into a new culture, I find the contrasts fascinating. I would hate to lose that in favor of a uniform screen persona.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

To give credit to my litany of instructors and mentors over the past few years, they have covered a lot of industry how-to’s, do’s, and don’ts — for which I am eternally grateful. There are a few things that have stuck with me — that I would put in this category had I not been told straight off the bat — and those would be to get your stuff out there because it does nothing on your hard drive, the program/gear/technology does not make the artist — no matter the kind of artist — and lastly, that the person who cares the most about your art is you. No one else will make it for you, and no one else makes it like you do.

One of my instructors said in a class once that even if two people do the same thing, it will never be the same, sound the same, look the same, or turn out the same way. Person A might turn the knob this way, while Person B waits until after adjusting this or that to turn the knob. Someone had asked the instructor how to be unique and stand out, and his answer was that it’s the tiny little details that you don’t even realize you do that makes your work different than the next person’s.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Don’t be afraid to sleep on it. I’m one of those people that can get sucked into a project and not stop working on it until I’m frustrated, tired, stuck, and miserable — all because I don’t want to lose that first rush of emotion and creativity. My best advice is to take that time, or even put the project aside for a day — if you have that kind of leeway — and work on something else that’s different. A day later, even just a half-hour later, you might have an even better idea for the project or something completely different that is so much cooler. Also, do not stay in your room all day. Again, I’m like that, and the best thing I can do sometimes is get up and get out of the house — even if it’s just to people watch, soak in the sun and get sunburned, or stare at the sky until I’m bored.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

There are so many amazing movements out there right now — black lives matter movements; movements for women empowerment, LGBTQIA rights; and so much more. Aside from supporting each of these wholeheartedly, I would like to throw in-school programs for the arts. There are so many kids who could benefit from more art programs, and I’m not just talking about music. If the school’s art programs could support fundraisers for causes like those I mentioned above, that would be even cooler.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Honestly, there are a lot of people who helped me get where I am today. From my family to my instructors to my friends, everyone has been so supportive and I am beyond grateful. If I had to single someone out, I would have to say my mom and dad. They were there when I stood as a toddler in front of the speakers, and they are here now when I am an adult in front of my speakers today. My dad actually is a musician — he wrote, performed, and recorded the guitar and bass parts for quite a few of my previous releases, and future ones too. He also sat with me when I had to redo the entire mix for ONE from the bottom up, and kept my head on straight. I get my love of music as a musician and songwriter from him. My mom is my social media consultant — she actually told me about this interview and suggested I apply. They are the best parents I could wish for because they are there for me every time, and they are also not scared to give me a truth whooping. My younger brother is an inspiration to me, because he dreams big and works hard. It’s easy to be driven when the people around you are too.

I’d like to give special thanks to Matt Luther for creating label artists I can trust; my dear friends Jessica Scott and Samira Velasco, for standing with me when I needed it; and to Hao Do, Mark Barrie, Corey Phillips, Jeremy Howard, Veit Renn, Logan Belle, David Gibbs, Lourdes Crosby, and the rest of my amazing instructors at Full Sail for giving me such an amazing learning journey.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

This quote is my mantra, my boost in the morning, and my boost at night. I’m a caring person, and I care a lot about what other people think. As someone in the spotlight, sometimes it can be terrifying. For the video with Kristina, for instance. I am not a fan of cameras. I do not like watching videos of myself or going through pictures. I constantly wonder about what people will think; what if my hair is too different, what if, what if… and this quote helps me stop that train of thought. No one can make me feel inferior except me, and that takes a weight off.

Another quote I’d like to put in here is one I only heard about two years ago, because when we moved into our latest home a girl left a mirror on the back of the door. On that mirror was the quote, and I keep that in mind for toeing out of the comfort zone.

“ ‘Why not?’ Is the slogan to an interesting life.” — Mason Cooley

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

There are so many inspiring and amazing people in this world — this is a tough question to answer. I would love to have tnbreakfast with Mr. Ruben Gonzalez, lunch with Sia, or a meeting with Nick Phoenix and Thomas Bergersen, the masterminds behind the orchestral production company Two Steps From Hell.

How can our readers follow you online?

My handle on Instagram is, Twitter is musician_4_life, and my website is  !

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you for having me, this was a wonderful opportunity!

This content was originally published here.

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