Zsaris is featured on this week’s Local Insights Segment! Download the app on the App Store or Google Play to read more of her expert-approved recommendations.
The passion for creating music is deeply imprinted in the identity of Zsaris Mendioro. An artist of many instruments, she refused to put herself in a box as she put on several hats: singer-songwriter, music arranger, live loop artist, music producer, and beatboxer. Everything that she has in her armory of skills is a testament that an individual’s potential knows no bounds as long as you put your heart and soul into your craft.
The Filipina artist emerged as the grand winner of the Mossimo Music Summit in 2015. From then on, her music entered the streaming-sphere full steam; singing rhythmic confessions of life and love paired with atmospheric melodies. Countless artists have made their mark on a global scale, and Zsaris knows that unwavering determination is a big part of the formula to create a similar destiny.
“[I want to] Take my music or my looping to an international audience. I believe I have something special to offer the world,” she says of the goals that she still wants to achieve as an artist.
“Through my travels and competitions with my a cappella group, Pinopela, I have experienced shows where audiences were in awe of our innate musicality and skill. As a Filipina who combines all of these in one convenient act, I will wave our flag proudly!” she adds.
As Zsaris continues to push the boundaries of the music scene, she opens up about her career genesis, musical influences, and what she considers the hardest part of being an artist.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I’ve always felt a strong desire to showcase what I can do. I needed to learn as I went along in the journey because, in the beginning, I didn’t have the courage to go beyond the support roles in my bands’ performances. Live looping has given me the opportunity to do everything on my own—singing solo, arranging my own songs, and marketing them. Committing to work every day keeps me going. I believe my story is unique so I just let things unfold.
How did your music career start?
I danced and sang along to music until I discovered I can learn music by ear (I got it from my dad!). Music came naturally to me. I’ve been playing all my life, but I worked behind the scenes for a music channel first, doing editorial and media work. Five years after winning the Mossimo Music Summit, I’m still here and I’m still committed.
Who are the artists that hugely influenced your style and sound?
My live looping epiphany came from Norwegian artist, Bernhoft. He’s from the same country where my most favorite band, D’Sound, is from. I listen to a variety of music so there’s influence from a little bit of everything that I unconsciously pick up from everywhere. Of course, I also admire the beauty and poetry of the Filipino language and musicality from the greats—Ryan Cayabyab, The Company, APO Hiking Society, and my favorite bands from the Pinoy band wave: Sugarfree, The Itchyworms, and Up Dharma Down.
Where do you get inspiration for your music?
It was easier to write about other people’s stories before, but now I am trying to tell my own stories as honestly as possible. It also helps me define my sound because some serious topics are hidden inside dancy grooves. Since I also do improv, inspiration comes when I welcome it. It has changed my creative process and I learned to let go of planning the work and just doing it.
How do you spend your day when you aren’t working on new songs?
I bike a lot lately and use the extra time to cook myself a good meal. I think I am never not making new music because anything I blurt out is already music. There is just less pressure and more play. I practice new songs, listen to new music, and ride my balance board. For a good few days of no work, I’ll probably be traveling somewhere.
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist when it comes to the things you do?
Live looping requires a certain precision to nail the loops perfectly. I was a bit of a perfectionist for a long time but after realizing that I am already unique even without making music, I put my energy into improving myself instead and having more fun practicing and performing.
What do you think is the most challenging part of being an artist?
There is just so much to learn and apply. I get inspired every single day. The biggest challenge is the pressure to always make something when your existence is already art in itself.
If you can narrate your life through a song, what track would it be, and why?
“Rollercoasters” by Tank And The Bangas. It’s an accurate description of me getting excited about a lot of things in my life right now. It’s like falling in love for the first time, every time.
What’s the most satisfying or fulfilling aspect of being an artist?
Creation and collaboration. It’s magic happening before your eyes (and ears).
Looking back, what advice would you give to your younger self who’s just beginning to explore the opportunities this world has to offer?
You already know what you want to do, just follow it and keep learning. Trust your path. The journey is made for you.
Any tips for someone who’s just starting to learn about music?
YouTube is free for everything you need to know about anything in the world. I learned new stuff through YouTube, especially life hacks!
What’s your message to people who are just starting in their chosen career path?
Follow that pull—the thing that drives you to do something. Aside from honing your skills, practice following what you love because it’s also the force that will take you to where you are meant to be. Make it an adventure! Try a lot of things for the heck of it. You’ll get to a point where you’re going to need some of these skills to get you to the next journey.
Without giving away too much, what are the plans or projects you’re most excited about right now?
The new songs I self-produce at home, improv comedy, and songs on the fly with my musical improv duo, A II Z. I also have my impromptu all-vocal looping videos, and the DIY music video that I shot, directed, and edited by myself. I don’t plan anything, really. Just watch this space for anything new!
Zsaris Mendioro is on Lemi at @zsaris!