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Interview: Živa Talks Up Her New Single, ‘Dualism’

Croatian-born Melbourne-based avant-garde artist ŽIVA has just revealed her foreboding new single ‘Dualism’. We sat down with Živa to find out more about the release, her background with music and more!

Congratulations on the new release! Can you tell us a little bit about what ‘Dualism’ is about?

Thank you! I am super excited and even a little bit in disbelief that ŽIVA is really alive and available to the public after months of me just writing some music in my bedroom.

‘Dualism’ is an ode of some sort – an ode to myself which I created with the hope that it will help me stand my ground and remind myself that I have to slow down and stop driving myself into burnouts. Being efficient was always important for me, but now it became my master rather than a skill that helps you nail life. And because of it, I feel trapped. Although I clearly feel emotionally drained and energy depleted, I find it hard to stop pushing for more. Dualism represents just that: struggling to let go of the old pattern and be your own best friend instead of the worst boss ever.

Have you always been creating music?

Yep, since the age of 14. I don’t have any formal musical education, and since I never liked cover bands, in order to play live, I figured I have to write my own songs. The process changed and evolved over time. At first, I was writing it all alone, then eventually got to the point where Anja, Goran and myself were writing it all together as Punčke. And now I do it entirely by myself again, but in a completely different way, and in a totally different genre. One thing stayed the same though: the inspiration always comes from my personal life. Music for me really is a medium which gives me the power to express my deepest emotions, and understand myself better, whereas performing live provides me with that feeling of catharsis which I desperately need to be able to recharge and navigate my crazy life.

So, you were born in Croatia. Does your Croatian heritage influence the way you write and create music?

I think so, yes. But it is also something I am trying to find out, so I still don’t have a final answer. ŽIVA came to life because of the innate compulsion to locate myself culturally now that I am in Australia, and to see how my Croatian heritage and language fits into this new identity. I am not that interested in the past/historical truth as much as I am interested in understanding and expressing those raw aspects of my Croatian identity that always feel like home. I want to embrace my heritage and be able to channel it through my music, instead of just stepping away from it since I am not in Croatia anymore.

How has your experience been living in Australia since moving here in 2019?

Well, I did spend 298 days in lockdown 🙁 So, it’s been quite challenging. I came here just a couple of months before the pandemic, so it really stalled my progress in making friends and ultimately, building connections in the music industry. Moving continents itself presents a huge challenge, and when you mix in the pandemic and lockdowns, you get a recipe for something that has been the most challenging part of my adult life. It was incredibly isolating, and it unfortunately deepened my existing anxiety issues.

However, there is a silver lining in everything: I did create ŽIVA because of that same lockdown and started my practice-based PhD which brought so many good friends into my life and is changing the way I think. And I just LOVE Melbourne. I love who I am becoming here in Australia. I love being able not to worry if I will get paid on time or have money next week. I love all the incredible birds that wake me up each morning with their singing (or you can call it screaming sometimes hehe).

I see you’re studying a PhD. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Exactly a year ago, I started my practice-based PhD at SensiLab, Monash University. Such a crazy, yet wonderful thing if you ask me. I have a Master’s Degree in Geomatics (spatial engineering), and since in Croatia you could never combine engineering and art, I always had to choose to be either an artist or an engineer. And that bothered me a lot! When I came to Australia, I started evolving ideas for artworks that involve both technology and art and as soon as I found out about SensiLab, I got in touch, presented those ideas and was awarded with full scholarship and stipend. And here I am, pursuing a degree that allows me to be experimental and it is the best thing ever.

Do you have plans to make more music, alongside your PhD work?

Music is definitely the most important thing in my life, really. It is not at all a side hustle; it is something I wish to push as much as I can and see what happens. At this stage I am focusing on building my audience base here in Australia through live gigs and single releases, but in the background, I am preparing a whole album and thinking of pitching to some Aussie labels.

Do you have any upcoming shows?

Yes, finally! My next show is actually a part of Melbourne Design Week where I will be performing my first single ‘Power’ using this revolutionary musical instrument called ‘Airsticks’ that will allow me to perform my song live through body movement. I am also heading to Europe and will have a couple of gigs there. For more info check the link below or just keep track of my Instagram where I post everything.

Written by John Zebra