Dubliner Zeinab has just released her collaboration with Carlow's Hawk Jupiter, Oasis. We ask her the BIG questions...

Tell us three things about yourself?

Ooh, I'm quite the chatterbox so it's difficult to say just three things.

1. I've been told I'd talk to the wall, so I suppose that's one.

2. I'm Irish / Sudanese. Born and raised in Dublin. I'm fluent in Irish, but sadly not in Arabic. It's something I want to learn, and did mean to learn during lockdown. But, like a lot of people, lockdown came and went with some goals not being achieved.

3. The third one is a random one. I keep a book with lots of lyric and melody ideas. But, because I'm a worrier, I've written a disclaimer on the front of it saying, 'If I've passed away and you're reading this, know that I love you! Whatever is written here was done so because of the mood I was feeling at the time'. I don't want to have anyone annoyed with me when I can't resolve it from beyond the grave.

Ok, there's three things that probably give too much insight into who I am.

How would you describe your music?

The best way to describe my music is emotive soul-tinged R&B, filled with soulful melodies and confidently vulnerable lyrics. My songs act as my very own musical diary. If my thoughts and emotions had soundtracks for them, these would be it. Take a peek into my head via my music and see for yourself!

Who are your musical inspirations?

This list is long. Since I was small, I've been inspired by the powerful, soulful tones of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. I grew up in a house that also played a lot of George Benson, Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross, so that funky soul vibe inspires me.

Beyoncé has been a huge inspiration and influence on my music and my life. When I was growing up, she was a role model for me. She represents what a successful black woman can be. As a young black girl in Ballymun, there wasn't anyone who looked like me, and having that person who gave me something to aspire to, set me on the road I'm on today.

Also, I can't talk about musical inspirations without mentioning Frank Ocean. I've been a massive fan since I heard Channel Orange. It’s also one of the reasons why I have a lot of orange in my artwork and photos. It's a nod to that album and, luckily, orange pops!

How did you occupy yourself during the coronavirus lockdown?

I kept busy with a mixture of releases and collaborations. At the beginning of lockdown, I released my track You Don't Know, which I co-wrote with Carlow singer-songwriter Joe Cleere. I also released my single Forever, which I was lucky enough to record in Berlin with German producer Magro just before lockdown. The release also included my first-ever vinyl release.

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I also worked on two collaborative tracks that are out this summer. On 25 June, I released Oasis, a collaboration track between Carlow-based producer Hawk Jupiter and Grammy nominee Kristal Oliver. I'm so proud that we have been able to record not only the track, but a music video for it too. I think lockdown has taught us all how to be extremely savvy to make things happen. A new, separate track, Summertime, will be released later this summer.

One highlight of 2020 for me was performing on my street for my neighbour's 71st birthday. There were about 45/50 people on our street, all socially distant outside their houses. It felt like a mini festival. Soon after that, I performed outside my local cafe Bibi's. It felt so fantastic to be able to perform again and it was nice to feel a sense of normality too. I was lucky to get press coverage on both performances.

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What's your favourite song right now?

I cannot get enough of Sinéad Harnett! Her recent release is a non-skip-track album. I adore every song on it, but my favourite has to be Ready Is Always Too Late. Her vocals, the harmonies - all utterly stunning! The vibe and the lyrics make it a song that I wish I had written myself. Since its release, I've had it playing on repeat!

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Favourite lyric of all time?

This is such a tough question. When I heard At Last by Etta James, I instantly felt such a strong connection. The lyrics and message are so powerful that I often sing it acapella. The poetic lyrics and melodies are incredibly touching on their own. I adore each phrase and its story of love - those two words 'at laaaaast' just set me off.

If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A song to live and walk life to. It's a strut-all-day-every-day song. I could never live without it and certainly wouldn't want to, as dramatic as that sounds - Never Too Much by Luther Vandross. What's not to love? Luther's dulcet tones, vibrant guitar and banging, slapping bass. I adore this track and how it makes me feel. I would happily listen to it every day for the rest of my life!

Where can people find your music/more information?

Check out my music on Spotify and Apple Music. And please give me a follow on Instagram @zeinaboffical or read about my last single Forever at zeinabofficial.com.

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