Zahra grew up in a house playing everything from dancehall to Irish folk music to Abba, pirate radio in the car, buying Aaliyah for her first single before moving onto the inevitable teen nu-metal and indie phases - all of which continues to influence her eclectic style.
She got her first set of drums at 14, a crappy little practice kit worth 20 quid which she covered with tea-towels to dampen the sound in her room. It was three years before she got a better kit, Tallulah, who was almost in as many Oxford bands as Zahra herself. She formed Babygravy who were together for 5 years gigging around the U.K. incessantly. It was a big learning curve and the things Zahra herself experienced continue to inform how she makes music and how she works to educate and encourage young or vulnerable musicians.
Zahra has been writing and performing for more than 15 years. As a solo artist she works under the pseudonym Despicable Zee, creating wonky yet meditative lo-fi tunes, punctuated by biting rhythms. Now working with her own vocal and lyrical content, she layers melancholy, lazy melodies to shape a sound that sits somewhere between poetry and quiet rap. The songs are steeped in issues relating to identity, heritage, relationships and change - they sound like echoes of something, partially forgotten.
Although a one-woman project, Despicable Zee has worked with samples of her newborn, and lullabies from her Irish mother and her grandmother in Iran. Her music attempts to reconcile different cultures, generations and memories that may be separated by thousands of miles, or thousands of years. In this she explores what motherhood means to her and tries to finds her own place in a lineage, where the past and the future intersect.
Despicable Zee - Wednesday's Child
April 19th 2017
Despicable Zee - Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani
Atigheh - عتیقه
February 25th 2019