The extent of our music talent is playing “Hot Cross Buns” on the recorder, so when we heard Ziva could play cello, sax, piano, guitar and sing, we just had to see her in action. On a beautiful Sunday night at Yoshi’s lounge, with Fillmore street as the backdrop, Ziva wowed us during her show. What’s up next for her besides mastering the electric guitar, synth and accordion? How about her and her band releasing their first EP this Fall? The past few years, she’s made music her number one mission, and says the kick in the pants was something she just happened to catch on Oprah:
SCOUT: You were born and raised in Israel and moved to SF in 2007. What was it that you found so special about the city?
ZIVA: Before relocating to San Francisco, I lived in Houston, TX, for a couple of years. My roommate at the time had a business opportunity in San Francisco, and being close friends, he suggested we go on a trip together to check out The City by the Bay. I fell for San Francisco the moment I laid eyes on it and moved shortly thereafter. This city's beauty takes my breath away every day. But not only is it beautiful, it’s soulful, smart, inspiring, rich in culture, and has the right idea about human rights, community and sustainability - which are very important to me. This infatuation is still getting stronger by the day, the more people I meet and the more I get involved with the different communities I am part of.
SCOUT: Your music roots are in classical, but that’s not the kind of music you play today. What was your musical evolution and how would you describe your current sound?
ZIVA: I grew up listening to classical music by way of my dad, who is a big fan of it. Cello lessons at 9, classical voice lessons from 12-17. At 12, I took up sax and piano. During high-school, I sang in a few choirs, a rock band and a funk band. After high-school, I joined the Israel Defense Forces, serving as musical director of the Naval Training Base Entertainment Group. After, I studied vocal jazz at The Jerusalem Music & Dance Academy & Rimon School of Contemporary Music. The latest evolution came in the form of picking up guitar, 2.5 years ago. So, my current sound is a mix of all of the above, and then some. A common thread I like to weave in between all those different styles, is the EPIC factor. Whatever style I write in, I like to make it explosive and rich in melody & harmony.
SCOUT: Did you always know you’d be a musician?
ZIVA: Deep inside, yes. But it wasn't until 3 years ago, that I consciously made the decision to 'go for it'. I remember the exact moment when that happened: I was at a friend's house, watching Oprah's interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, right after she published her book Eat, Pray, Love, and what stroke a chord with me was one thing in particular - she was talking about the life experience that led her to write that book, and how one day she asked herself: "What do you really, really, really want?" emphasizing the triple repetition of the word 'really'. It was the right time and place for me to hear that and I still ask myself that question every day.
SCOUT: Your band consists of bassist/vocalist Kipp Glass, guitarist/vocalist Jon Jimmerson, drummer Chad Sylva and cellist Julia Jurkiewicz. Where did you find your fellow bandmates?
ZIVA: I met Kipp through a mutual friend. Jon & Chad responded to a Craigslist post and Julia found out about the band through a friend, who was our violist, and joined after he left. It's been about a year and a half for all of us together in this. I feel so blessed and lucky to have these amazing people in my band!
SCOUT: What are your favorite places in the city to perform?
ZIVA: The Independent, Yoshi's, Red Devil Lounge, Cafe Du Nord.
SCOUT: You recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for a new recording. What did it feel like completing that?
ZIVA: Kickstarter was an incredible experience! I launched a campaign in March to help fund my band's new demo CD and it was funded at 168% with 70 backers. That was amazing to me. I was literally moved to tears more than a few times throughout the campaign, by all the love & support we received. Since then, we have put more work into the project and will be releasing it as an EP this Fall of 2011!
SCOUT: You’re not just a musician, though. You’ve worked with some pretty cool organizations that promote music (Bay Vibes, WomenROCK and you also produce an annual fundraiser for diabetes, called Sugar Rush. Why is it important to you to work with those programs?
ZIVA: I found out about WomenROCK 2.5 years ago. It is an all female Bay Area music, art and activist collective, and growing up in a kibbutz in Israel, it felt natural to join this group. I’ve also volunteered with Bay Vibes for 6 months and did similar work for them. It’s an SF-based events company with a mission to further expose, build, and unify the Bay Area’s artist community and to support local bands. Working with both WomenROCK and Bay Vibes has been a great source of inspiration & opportunity and has given me the courage and confidence to produce an annual fundraiser concert - Sugar Rush which raises money for diabetes and features local artists.
SCOUT: Who are some of your favorite Bay Area artists?
ZIVA: Megan Slankard, The Family Crest, The Memorials, LoCura, Eric McFadden, For the Broken.
SCOUT: Where can readers go to get more info on you?
ZIVA: Your 1-stop-shop would be zivamusic.com. Then there's Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Of all social networks, Facebook is my favorite, and I update it regularly.
Photo by Tsafrir Melamed.