Zaya Solange: The Dynamic Lead Singer of One of Canada’s Hottest Bands Sounds Off
The funkadelik, laid-back style of Static Gold has made the group one of the hottest Montreal-based bands in Canada. Members Zaya Solange, Samuel Chacp Khon and Daniel Pombo were setting the music scene abuzz even before the band’s debut album Speaking Easy was released late last month.
Zaya Solange, the female lead of the band was born in New York of a Haitian mother. Her lively stage presence is one of the attracting points of Static Gold. Performing the “Tango into Django” on stage, the vocalist sings like she’s the goddaughter of Ella Fitzgerald and dances with the energy of a Tina Turner. Her voice takes on jazz, funk, and R&B on songs like “Sit Back”—without missing a beat.
Zaya Solange and the other members of the trio initially got together in 2012, and fans waited patiently but eagerly for the band’s first album. For Speaking Easy, the vocalist and her team worked with drummer Louis Souverain bassist Thomas Viardot and flutist-saxaphonist Beth Mckenna as well as seasoned musicians Christopher Vincent, Kaz Takasugi, Chris Maskell, Michael Hsu and George Doxas.
Zaya Solange had a convo with Kreyolicious regarding the album and leading the band and of course the album Speaking Easy.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m an artistic person. I love all things that contribute to the world’s beauty, which is one of the reasons why I feel so blessed to be able to make music and share that joy with people. And though I’m really outgoing and love partying with friends, I enjoy solitude surrounded by nature. I like to diversify my experiences. It helps in terms of songwriting and makes life that much more fun.
Music is obviously a big deal in your life. How did the love for it come about?
The love for music was innate for me. I’ve sung ever since I can remember. The first time I sang in front of people was on my very first birthday. I had a mic and everything! My mom still has pictures to prove it.
You are the only girl in the band, what’s it like?
Actually, that has changed recently when Beth Mckenna joined the group as saxophonist. However, I must say working with a mostly male group is quite natural as I’m the youngest of five kids and the only girl. It’s something I hadn’t really considered until I noticed that I was the only one who kept a shirt on during rehearsal when it got really hot during the summer.
Hah. And now for a scenario that could very well happen: after a Static Gold concert, a fan who is also an aspiring singer approaches you. She wants to be just like you and ask for pointers. What would you say to her?
I’d just tell her to continue doing what she loves. To keep in mind that it can be tough at times, but that it is worth it if it truly is a passion. It is important to build thick skin because we are faced with so much criticism, especially when fronting a band. I’d tell her to take the criticism with a grain of salt and use it as a springboard to achieve new heights and perfect the craft. In the end, you just have to stay true to yourself. Authenticity is key; there is no point in trying to be like someone else.
Which musical era has had the most profound effect on you?
Wow, I can’t think of a particular era but it would mostly be between the 1920s and 1990s. There has been so much great music produced in every one of those decades in different genres, it would be hard to choose one.
And any artists in particular?
As for artists, that’s a tough one too. I grew up listening to my mom’s music, so I sang along to Prince, Patti Labelle, Marvin Gaye, Ashford & Simpson to name a few. When I grew old enough to choose my own music, I added artists ranging from Joni Mitchell to the Fugees. I love all music as long as it’s good.
As the face of the band, and its reigning queen, your face and body are always in the spotlight, always under scrutiny. How does that feel?
I used to be a ballerina, so I am used to someone telling me to change something about something. The least positive thing I’ve been told was to show more “underboob” [Laughs] and the most positive was that my legs can compete with Tina Turner’s. So far, so good!
A ballerina. How cool. Have you felt beautiful all your life?
I think that would be impossible considering that beauty is so subjective and is quite a complex concept. Of course I’ve felt insecure growing up—like any other teen and some people actually told me bluntly that I was ugly, but I’ve learned to disregard naysayers. And when I looked at myself in the mirror while dancing ballet, I felt like the most beautiful girl in the world! Even if my instructor thought I had “bad feet” and too big of a derriere. I also noticed growing up that aesthetically pleasing people aren’t always pleasant and therefore kind of ugly. If you are a good person and are happy in your everyday life, it shows. As some say, “A happy girl is a pretty girl”.
What’s next for you and your band?
Hopefully, the moon! People from various cultures really seem to respond to our music so I hope we can travel around and share our music with our fans across the pond. We [have released ] our debut album. To me, it feels like a great start for our journey towards playing on an international platform. Perhaps we can start with our hometowns; Dan is from Colombia, Sam is a French/Swede lad and I’m a Montrealer from New York with roots in Haiti. It would be a golden ride, indeed.