What Making It in Miami Means to UM Jazz Vocalist Zoë Fromer
Zoë Fromer sheds light on what it's like to be a young musician in Miami.
Photo by Natalia Wilson
When University of Miami senior and jazz vocalist Zoë
“A lot of Miami is fabricated for tourists — not a lot of it is real,” Fromer says. “[Miami’s] been around for a long time, yes, but… it was always a tourist destination, so it never really had its own identity. Miami’s identity was kind of thrust onto it.”
Having experienced Miami as both resident and interloper,
A conversation with Zoë about jazz and her career quickly morphs into a meditation on music as a whole, Miami's own scene, and an artist’s responsibility — or lack thereof — to push their form forward. Having operated in a jazz template for quite some time, Fromer is all too aware of some of
“In order to feel like [jazz musicians] are preserving this art form, we try to live it too much and we get too caught up in what it used to be. If you go to any jazz gig here or in New York, everybody’s wearing blue suits and brown shoes with a patterned shirt — what people were wearing in the fifties and sixties,” she says. “A big part of jazz is living the tradition. I think it’s important to have a really healthy understanding of the tradition, but we get — as jazz musicians — too wrapped up in the tradition that we don’t push it forward.”
Not content solely admiring artists whom she feels do progress the music – Kendrick Lamar collaborator Kamasi Washington and the absurdly funky Thundercat among them –
“I grew up listening to Queens of the Stone Age and the White Stripes; those are my two favorites — and Queen. So I grew up seeing that male bravado,” she recounts. According to
“It’s funny because whenever I would do jazz, I would be so afraid because you’re always being [scrutinized]… One day I was like, fuck it, I’m tired of being scared, and I applied what I saw from [those] who were my masters and idols growing up.”
This fuck-it attitude has enabled
“There’s a lot of interesting homegrown stuff that people don’t know about. It’s very innovative and it’s very youthful. All of the artists that are really making a difference are all under 30,” she says. “They’re all doing really cool stuff, and they all are commanding a strong internet presence because they’re not necessarily being recognized here… So they’re turning to the internet to make their presence known, and it’s working out really well for a lot of them.”
“It’s not all real, but it’s all fantastic. It’s kind of like Alice in Wonderland — nothing’s real, but everything is beautiful and unique.”
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