One day, while in high school, Quebec music artist Zach Zoya sat his parents down and told them he wanted to leave school to pursue his music career. They REALLY took it well considering Zach had only been making music for about a year before he had this conversation.
But, before we get that conversation, let’s rewind.
From Hockey to Music
“I started making a bit of hip hop with my high school friends. And very early on, they showed me a lot of love and support.”
Zoya, who turns 24 this year, has always loved music. “I personally always loved hip hop and always loved music in general. I was a big R&B fan to start with,” he says. But music wasn’t his hobby as a youth. Hockey had been his thing for a very long time. He describes himself as having been an athlete. But, Zach explains, when he was 16 or 17, “I started making a bit of hip hop with my high school friends. And very early on, they showed me a lot of love and support. Even my family. So I gave it a shot.”
“Hip Hop”, he says, “for young teenagers, was a good thing to do together. You know, it brings people together. And, it was something I was very naturally good at, it seemed.”
So back to that important conversation with his parents.
Making a Career
“I think I approached it in a very rational and clinical way. I was like, I’m giving myself a year to put my all into music.”
“I had to sit them down and had to be like ‘Mom and Dad. I’m dropping out of school to pursue my music dreams'” he recalls, animatedly. “Surprisingly enough, my parents were kind of cool with it. Like, surprisingly cool with it!” he says. Why were they so ready to accept their teen’s plan to drop out of school? “I think I approached it in a very rational and clinical way,” Zoya posits. “I was like, I’m giving myself a year to put my all into music. And if it works out, then I’ll keep going. If it doesn’t, I’ll go back to school. No harm done.”
“In Quebec, we have a very solid music scene. Self sufficient. “
And so, he did. His transition from school to full-time music was, like his transition from hockey to music, very smooth. “Honestly, I say it all the time: I’ve been very fortunate just in the way things have happened for me” he reflects. “Indeed, it would have been a very hard path and something we really don’t see coming from where I’m from to go into music in general, rap even less. It would have been hard but the pieces just kind of fell into place at the right time.” From the small town of Rouyn-Noranda in north-western Quebec, now based in Montreal, Zoya is thankful the music scene in Quebec. “In Quebec, we have a very solid music scene. Self sufficient. So, we get a lot of artists, a lot of OGs from the music scene here in Quebec, who showed me love very early on. I’m very thankful for that.”
“It’s one of the rare moments when you’re in the present.”
Zach Zoya says that one of the reasons he started with rap is because of the “persona” that one can take on when performing. “The rap and hip-hop scene kind of afford you to be in that persona of being more confident than you are,” he explains. “That was really my way in as an insecure, young, unaccomplished artist […] My way in, to fake having the confidence to actually go on stage.” Now, he’s comfortable enough to include R&B, which is what he’s really passionate about. “The fact that I got do both, very vulnerable and open through the R&B side and very braggadocious on the hip hop side, gives me a spectrum […] I kind of get to be myself on stage.” Another nice thing about being on stage he says is “that it clears your mind. You’re in the moment. It’s one of the rare moments when you’re in the present.”
Check out the full interview with Zach Zoya!
You can catch Zach Zoya at this year’s Osheaga Music Festival.