Photography by Jenna Putnam, Fashion Editor Ryan Rosewall, Make up by Sydney Costley.
Zarina Nares is a singer and model based in Los Angeles, with undeniable talent. Her work is imbued in what could be described as a sweet sadness. Simple jazzy and bluesy riffs make way for the powerful yet subtle sounds of her voice, instilling her music with a youthful yet matured charm. Aserica had the pleasure to ask her a few questions about her personal background and her creative process.
XP: Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
ZN: I was born and raised in Tribeca, New York City.
XP: What was your favourite thing to do as a kid?
ZN: My older sister and I would put on talent shows or “fashion shows” (layering halloween costumes and bed sheets) in our homemade living room theater (a window seat with a thick curtain in front of it). When my parent’s friends would come over I would sit by the piano and start playing and singing (I’m sure dreadful) songs I wrote about whatever was going on in my five year old life, while they smoked cigarettes and half paid attention. I didn’t care that much for an audience, it never felt like a need for attention, though I am sure my sisters would argue otherwise but I used any excuse to perform. I did ballet for thirteen years and all the school musicals. I loved to be on stage, it always felt more comfortable than real life.
XP: What got you interested in singing?
ZN: I started taking piano lessons when I was four years old. At the end-of-year recital the last person to perform was a fourteen year old girl, who at the time seemed so cool and grownup. She sang an Italian opera piece. I don’t know the name of the song but I can still hear it in my head and hum the melody. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and heard. I remember the way it made me feel so clearly, every button in my four year old body was pressed by her voice. I had all the reactions, the goosebumps, the teary eyes, the jaw dropped. I never stopped singing after that. My mother insists I’ve been singing since I was born but that’s beyond my memory.
XP: Who are your favourite artists? Which singers or people inspire you most?
ZN: I could listen to only Billie Holiday for the rest of my life and live happily ever after. Actually Billie Holiday and 1960s Girl Groups. I grew up listening to a compilation vinyl called “Girl Group Greats!” Which included songs by Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Shirelles, The Ronettes, The Shangri-Las, The Chiffons, Martha and The Vandellas. I just adore all those songs, that perfect combination of doo-wop, rock and roll and pop. I can almost always enjoy anything that was written in the Brill Building and anything with Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound (thought not the biggest fan of Spector as a person). I am also inspired by Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Otis Redding, Muddy Waters. The list and paragraph really could go on forever…
XP: How has exploring your creative side changed you?
ZN: Exploring my creative side has allowed me to better understand myself and my thoughts, process my feelings and take ownership of them. It’s taught me that I don’t need to feel guilty for expressing myself, especially as a young woman. It is also (slowly) helping me feel confident in the choices I make, artistically and in life.
XP: I see you are getting into modeling too. What attracted you to modeling?
ZN: I was so broke and needed to pay my bills...but modeling is fun! It’s like playing dress up for a living, playing house in a world created by someone else. And I have gotten to meet and work with so many amazing, talented individuals. I am very grateful for that.
XP: What’s your personal style out in the world?
ZN: Prints on prints on prints. Lots of color. I am either dressed extremely casually or dressed as if I am shooting an editorial. Always underdressed or overdressed, there is rarely an in between.
XP: What do you hope for the world? If you could make a wish...
ZN: That’s such a tough question because the world is so flawed in so many ways, on so many levels, so where do we begin? But if I could make one wish it would be a world of only acceptance, tolerance and coexistence. There are no “superiors” or “others”. Just a common understanding that we are of one race, the human race, existing in a system where we are all actually equal and entitled to the same opportunities.
XP: What are your personal goals for the future?
ZN: To finish this album I have been working on for (what feels like) FOREVER!