The world wants Zaz

MTV Iggy, February 21, 2012

“Je veux.” I want. In this song, which became a huge summer hit in France in 2010, Zaz shares a wishlist that’s anything but materialistic. All she wants is “some love, some joy, some good cheer/It’s not your money that will make me happy,” she sings in French, after turning down jewels, mansions and limousines. “What would I do with all that stuff?” she asks, sauntering in the video through a flea market. That image only underscores the cute-retro Parisian feel that can’t help but attach to the 31-year-old singer. It’s inevitable: Zaz covers Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg along with singing originals, and she even used to busk in the Metro and Montmartre, plus she’s kind of bubbly, so the whole gamine thing comes pretty much built in.

But there’s plenty more to Zaz, born Isabelle Geffroy, than that cliché’d image. She’s a thoughtful and energetic woman from a Paris scene where traditional chanson is just one in a brew of influences that includes African, Gypsy, electronica and jazz elements, among others, swirling around in the clubs and taverns of the Latin Quarter or the Halles district. In her own pathway to an entirely unexpected stardom she picked up a lot of those strands, layered them atop a provincial upbringing and came out with this sassy but lucid artistic persona, a little wide-eyed maybe, but far from naïve.

Recently Zaz came through New York City for a few shows, including one at the Globalfest international music showcase, attended by an industry crowd of concert promoters, managers, media and the like. The next day, in her hotel’s lobby lounge, Zaz chatted in French with MTV Iggy’s Siddhartha Mitter about her sudden burst to fame, her troubled early years, and making classic-sounding French songs in 2012.