Celebrity News

NZ’s Zowie: little woman, big deal

Zoe Fleury may be small, but her music packs a big punch.

The New York Times named her act a “band du jour” and US celebrity gossip writer Perez Hilton raved about her on his website – the music industry is in a flurry about Kiwi pop singer Zoe Fluery. The 25-year-old Aucklander, who performs under the Ziggy Stardust-inspired stage name Zowie, is rocketing into international stardom with her debut album Love Demolition, and finds the accolades surreal.

“I check Perez Hilton [website] all the time, and one day something about me was the first post. I froze. He used to draw rude things on people’s pictures, but he drew some hearts on me,” she laughs. Perez invited Zoe to perform in his music showcase in Texas last year and Zoe had a chance to meet her admirer.

“When I met him he said, ‘You make pop music, but you do it in such a quirky and cool way.’” Back home, her debut single, Broken Machine, went gold on the charts in 2010, and her fan base grew after she supported Katy Perry here and in Australia.

Her latest single My Calculator is the musical equivalent of a firecracker – and already has her fans (who call themselves “Z-bots”) in a stir. Not only does her music have a chart-topping sound, but she’s got the looks to match. The pop culture fiend puts as much care into her stage style as she does into her music.

Her undercut hair gives her pixie-like features a sharp mechanical look and her quirky outfits are the spoils of shopping jaunts overseas. “I find shopping tricky because of my size, but it’s fun. I got my platform shoes in a stripper shop in New York,” she adds.

The petite star has a big voice and a high-energy sound that seems almost beyond her diminutive 1.6m height and super-slender build. But it’s not uncommon for people to jump to conclusions about her frame. “Lots of people would say, ‘You need to eat more,’” Zoe says. “It happens all the time and can be quite offensive – I’ve got quite small bones as I’m part Indian. But you get over it.

“I’ve weighed the same since high school. My parents are also small – Mum is tiny (1.50m) and Dad is tall and skinny (1.85m).” People ought to be cautious about what they say around Zoe. While her musical talents come from her father, guitar player Johnny Fleury, her Indian mother Ruthie is a karate sensei, and Zoe herself is adept in martial arts.

Thankfully, Zoe’s loyal Z-bots are full of praise for her music even though they’ve waited two years for her album to be released. “I’m a perfectionist. It drives everyone insane,” says Zoe. And Zoe is keen to encourage others to follow in her footsteps. In March she performed free concerts in three Wellington high schools, hoping to inspire fledgling musicians.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, because when I was at high school, some bands played for us and [I remember] being really inspired by that.”

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