It is not difficult to understand why singer-songwriter, Zaki Ibrahim would refer to her music as “sci-fi soul”. Born into a multinational family and residing in multiple cities throughout her life, Zaki has found refuge in the cosmos, a place where belonging is not confined to sovereignty, a place that encompasses divine order, a place we earthlings can also call “home”.
For a decade Zaki has been releasing celestial blends of R&B, Soul and Jazz into the universe. Her most recent EP with Red Bull Studios in Cape Town, ORBIT: A Postcoital Prequel has served as a prelude to her upcoming album The Secret Life of Planets. Even though the album promises to be noticeably different in setting and tone, both speak of the binary star system.
Moreover, the Secret Life of the Planets also speaks to Zaki’s last three tumultuous years, filled with the mourning of her father’s death and the celebration of her son’s life. As I sat beside Zaki, the ethereal stillness of her soul overwhelmed me as she teleported me to various stages of her becoming. “I felt like the writing of the album and the kinds of symbology and the concepts of time travel and the sci-fi and whatever else, actually helped me understand birth and death.”
The creation of this album manifested itself as various tools in her search for answers in the unknown. “I feel like to find the answers one just has to be an explorer and be open to discovering again and again and that’s the album; it’s discovering you and meeting yourself again as time overlaps from one moment to the next.”
Despite the profound journeying into herself and outer space, Zaki insisted that consuming the album does not have to be “cerebral”. Though intimate, time spent on Zaki’s planets will be groovy and light-hearted, something like “the guilty pleasure of R&B from the 80s that our parents made babies to.”
The anticipation of the album has built as Zaki has been on her Frank Ocean, “I don’t want to just rush it.” So as she finalises whether it will be independently released or not, manufactures artwork and visual components, the guarantee is that the album will be here by the first week of 2018. However, as an avid ingester of sounds, there is a deep appreciation of an artist that strives to master their genius.
Photography: Paul Shiakallis
Interview: Hazel Kimani
Creative Direction and Styling: Phendu Kuta
Hair and Make-up: Orli Meiri
Location: Inner City (Johannesburg) Loft