THE IRISH SINGER CHALLENGING SOUNDS AND SPACES
Sappho was born on the Greek Islands of Lesbos. She wrote passionate lyrical poetry filled with potent lesbian imagery. Her work lives on in fragments today, as the Church seeked to eradicate her legacy after the fourth century. The poems have lost their narrative and structure, however, their passion and queer energy remains in tact, and still jumps off the page in 2022. It’s unsuprising then that Zapho, an alt-pop songwriter based in Dublin who is determined to carve out a new creative space in the Irish music industry, named herself after a boundary breaking historical icon.
Zapho has worked with Irish songwriters such as Ryan O’Shaughnessy and Chloe Agnew, co-founded the X Collective and she is now emerging with her debut album. The new single Peoples is released this month. Dripping with psychedelic fantasy, the track blends a collection of genres, existing outside the bounds of a time period, the song denies any kind of categorisation. With songwriter Stephen McCann’s assistance, Zapho spent the guts of a year writing her debut album out of his bedroom; slowly adding layers to songs, making tweaks, until the project finally came to fruition with the release of Peoples. “I wrote and recorded ‘Peoples’ seven years ago and it's been produced since then, so the fact that it’s that old yet it’s still new and original to me and the people that are hearing it lets me know that I'm on to something. It’s not necessarily dated to a place or a time,” Zapho said.
The songwriter separates the process of creating the album into two. Firstly, recording and writing, and secondly, conceptualising the music video. “We made the music video during the pandemic, and I originally wanted to have as many extras as possible sweaty and dirty in a smoky room; we just had to figure out how the hell are we going to do this? How are we going to make this fantasy?” Zapho said. Peoples was released onto Spotify at the start of February, and Zapho’s impending album plans are to put out ten songs over the next year, releasing a song roughly every two months, including ‘Tell Your Mother’.
Zapho is also heavily invested in ‘The X Collective’. It has been established for two years and it has just under one hundred members. Its vision is to engage artists into a community where they create music projects by sharing talent and resources and cross promote those projects to achieve combined success. The Collective hosted a four-day-intensive-camp in Kilkenny for songwriters. The focus of the camp was writing a collaborative album, of which Zapho features on three singles. Organisations such as ‘The X Collective’ are vital during periods of minimal artistic support. Currently, rehearsal spaces are inaccessible, both from a geographic and economic standpoint and arts funding is few-and-far-between. “I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me; I was really lucky last year, I got a lot of grants and opportunities to make these spaces. In terms of things that are available, we have about ten rehearsal spaces that are really expensive, or to rent a studio you have to go to the middle of nowhere,” Zapho explained. Ideally, Zapho would love to set up a space with ‘The X Collective’ where they can write, record and produce projects freely, and have that space as an accessible space to the rest of the Irish music scene. “There needs to be a societal attitude shift, where people say hey, this must be really hard, we love your music, we’ll download your songs and buy your merch.” Zapho adds.
Zapho’s latest single Peoples is available on all streaming platforms now