Interview by Steven Yatsko at Models.com
Eyes closed–musician/singer Zarina Nares with her peppery blues/jazz-inspired crooning, lovelorn songs sung in small breaths and big feels–makes already for an impressive earful. On the 21-year-old’s 2017 EP “Songs To Sway To” Nares indulges in each of her lyrics, practically petting them vocally to doleful end (and spoiling us). Eyes open and the impression is twofold–Zarina can also turn heads without a word: A haunting beauty with her bee-stung lips, almond eyes and feline features all underscored by a stamp of distinction, a beauty spot on her left cheek. It’s unsurprising she recently added slash model to her résumé and is already captivating her new industry audience. We had to know more…
Ok, fact check: Where are you from? Jobs you’ve had? Give us the rundown all the way to your first kiss…
Alright, alright…I am 21 years old, Indian and British, I grew up in Tribeca, New York City and now live in Los Angeles. I am a musician and model. I was also a fantastic sales associate at Agent Provocateur. If I was working, no one left the store without buying some fancy underwear. First kiss? Depends if you mean a peck or making out…I think my first kiss/peck-ish thing was with Joseph Lebowitz in a playground when I was eleven. He is going to either laugh or kill me for saying that.
You recently moved to Los Angeles? What attracted you there, and what attracts you now that you are there?
I moved to Los Angeles to be somewhere completely different from New York and to be far away from everything and everyone I was used to. I think Los Angeles is a very interesting place to be right now. It is becoming less of a one industry town and so many different types of creatives are gathering here. Great music scene as well.
Have you had any ah-ha! moments recently, in music and modeling, that changed the way you went about either?
I was always under the impression that making an album or an EP required a lot of money and resources, professional studio, producer, sound engineer, etc. and a big record deal. What I learned while making my EP, Songs To Sway To, on the huge budget of $150, is when you know exactly how you want something to sound, even with limited resources and lack of recording experience, you can still create that sound. On top of that, you don’t have anyone who has to “approve” your work before you can release it. Not working on a label’s dime gave me the opportunity to create an EP exactly how I would want it to. Also WikiHow offers great How To Sound Engineer advice.
Can you talk about your music process, from writing lyrics and so on. What headspace do you need to be in?
My necessity to write comes from the need to make sense of a new feeling as a result of a new experience. Also writing and singing are as natural to me as breathing. I don’t think about it, I do it. The majority of what I write sits in the hundreds of notebooks sitting in the corner of my bedroom. I wrote my recently released EP, Songs To Sway To, with musician and close friend Joe Garside. It is hard for me to write with just anyone because it takes me a while to be fully comfortable with another person and not be self-conscious and therefore censoring myself. My songs are like reading through my diary. They are honest and personal. It isn’t easy to write your diary with another person.
How do you describe your own music? And can you explain how it has evolved over time?
I describe my music as a modern day blues or the “modern feminist blues”. I am very influenced by jazz, soul and blues musicians from the 20s to the 60s but I write about present day experiences. My music has evolved as I have as a person. It’s growing up with me.
Has your performance history influenced your confidence in modeling? Or is it different altogether?
It’s different and the same. Modeling is fantasy, it’s playing different versions of myself, different characters within me. Music is being the truest form of myself. I think the two help build confidence within me.
What modeling experiences have you had so far that have been your favorite or stand out?
I just did an insane job and I can’t say anything about it! So frustrating! Other than that, I get extremely excited when I am put in a Gucci gown.
What’s some advice you would give about navigating your aspirations? How do you balance your time?
I think it is all about keeping track of your priorities. Music is very important to me, it comes first. I am not so big on the nightlife scene, everyone who knows me will tell you I almost never go out. If I am not on a shoot, I am working on music. That is the exciting life of this 21 year old.
What have you found most challenging so far?
Believing in myself, I am plagued with self-doubt. I’m working on it. And being present while recording drums, very loud.
What’s something you’re terrible at?
Getting dressed. I try on a million things, they all end up on the floor and I always end up wearing five different patterns that don’t match at all.
What’s a question you want to know the answer to, but likely never will?
Why do European shoe sizes make absolutely no sense?
Lastly, what are you working on now and what’s next?
I just shot my first real music video (today actually!) with director Dana Boulos for my song “Mascara” off my new EP. Next will be releasing it.