Written by Noah Møtion
Australian model and musician, Zheani, has just dropped a music video for “Fear is the Mind Killer” produced by Virus and the Antidote. I got a chance to ask her some questions.
How has your experience as a woman in a genre dominated by men affected your experience, if at all?
There are definitely advantages and disadvantages.
I feel like the fact the genre lacks many female voices actually works to my advantage because it provides a niche to be filled. It also provides an opportunity for originality because there aren’t as many voices and styles to be compared to or to imitate. That leaves room open to create my own lane, to take existing elements and hopefully form them into something new.
Being a girl on a platform such as instagram also has its advantages. The potential for virality is greater for girls but that doesn’t necessarily translate into interest in your music. I worry some people cringe at the notion of a model attempting to enter this scene. People could assume that I’m coming from some place of privilege, attempting to subvert an existing underground culture for my own ends.
That’s definitely a disadvantage, but I hope in time I will be able to prove those people wrong.
As for the wider hip hop scene, I definitely have my issues with it.
I’ve been hit up by some pretty big names but the strings attached are clear as day and that can be frustrating as fuck.
Some dudes are so seedy and the instinct to out these people is strong but at the same time I’m not particularly interested in being one of these “me too “ bitches. I’m going to work hard to make it on my own merit. And if I make it the vengeance will come from a place of strength not of victimhood.
Femininity in this genre is a powerful weapon but it really is a double edged sword.
But just so that I’m interpreted right I’d like to make it clear that I often feel like it’s actually women who are a bigger hurdle and issue in my life then men.
You started your career as a model … What inspired you to make the jump to music and Hip Hop in the first place?
I’ve always been inspired by music, especially rap. I’ve been trying to make music for a few years now but I often struggled, finding my lyrics quite dark, not filled with the usual braggadocio common in hip hop.
So when I first started recording tracks with screaming and heavier instrumentals I just felt instantly comfortable. I felt like the genre fit me perfectly because it allowed me to vent that shadow that I was talking about earlier and express feelings and concepts I wouldn’t have a chance to anywhere else in my life. Things that I really needed to get out.
What’s the hip hop and/or trap metal scene like in Australia?
There’s not really much to be said of a trap metal scene here.
But obviously hip hop is massive and Australia has its own genre which you would call lad rap.
As a musician, model, and human being: who inspires you?
I have so much respect for an artist like Grimes.
She is a testament to the wholistic, renaissance approach to art as music.
While I’m not yet able to wrap my head around production at this point, I’m still very interested in the many elements of DIY that can be achieved in music, especially videos.
You have lived and worked in both working class and upper class communities.
Having experience with both the rich and the poor; what have you taken away from both? How has your life experience in these different socio-economic settings affected the art you create today?
I came from the not working class and in Australia that’s defined as the lower class. My childhood was chaos.. The film Gummo by Harmony Korine could be used as a reference of the aesthetic I grew up in. Foster care, no electricity, drugs and rock n roll. It left me lacking a lot of the basic skills needed to be a productive member of society. It also fucked my work ethic which is something I’ve always struggled with, not to mention leaving me with some bad habits. But I’ve been lucky and worked hard in turning my life around. I don’t think a victim mentality helps at all, only understanding. When you grow up in comparative poverty money has a lot of power over you. That lead to me being taken advantage of as a young adult, but in recent years I’ve really pushed against the resulting effects of my childhood.
There are all types of rich people. The line between good and evil runs down the human soul. A good rich person has more potential to do good, but an evil individual has more power to do evil. Entitlement plus an excess of evil can leave the rich and powerful feeling as though they are entitled to fulfil their desires. I have woven some of these themes into my music. The heaviest darkness can only be conjured into the world when given opportunity.
Eat the pain.
And, most importantly, if you could have a super power would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
Underneath the flashy Trap sound that has dominated the pop charts for the past few years; there is a beast bellowing, waiting for its time.
An undertow of abrasive and subversive music is aching to hit a wider audience.
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