Zee Avi (left) performing at the Filter Party at South by Southwest, Cedar Street Courtyard, Austin, Texas, 18 March 2009
|Birth name||Izyan Alirahman|
|Also known as||KokoKaina|
December 15, 1985 |
Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia
|Genres||Indie rock, pop rock, jazz|
|Instruments||Vocals, acoustic guitar, ukulele|
Zee Avi (born Izyan Alirahman, also known as KokoKaina),PBK is a Malaysian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and ukulele player. She hails from the oil-rich town of Miri, located in Sarawak, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. She moved to Kuala Lumpur at 12 and at 17, she taught herself to play the guitar. She studied fashion design at American InterContinental University in London, but as it turned out, fashion was not her true calling. She claims that she was "bred to become a lawyer" and even studied law at one point. Avi also has a penchant for art. In fact, her artwork is featured on the CD of her second album. She also produced three art pieces for a charity project with Pledge Music.
In September 2007, Avi posted a video of her first song Poppy on YouTube for one of her friends who had missed her first performance in Kuala Lumpur. The friend convinced Avi to leave the video online even after he had seen it, and soon she received positive feedback. This inspired her to put more videos on YouTube.
On the eve of her 22nd birthday (2007), Avi posted what was supposed to be her final video No Christmas For Me. The next day, YouTube put the spotlight on her video and Avi's mailbox was bombarded with more than 3,000 e-mails and a slew of offers from record labels.
After discovering her video, Patrick Keeler of The Raconteurs, passed the link to Ian Montone, the manager of The White Stripes, The Shins, The Raconteurs, M.I.A. and others. Montone then passed her music on to Emmett Malloy, who signed her to Brushfire Records, a record company that is partly owned by Jack Johnson. And the rest, as they say, is history. No Christmas For Me turned out to be her first official song with Brushfire Records. It was featured on Brushfire Records's 2008 charity Christmas album "This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday (Vol. 1)".
Avi's self-titled debut album was released on May 19, 2009. The album was co-produced by Brushfire Records and Ian Montone's Monotone Records. On the day of the release, YouTube featured her on the front page in Spotlight: Music Tuesday. A day after that, she performed to a full house at the famed Roxy Theater in West Hollywood. The album went on to become the ninth best album of 2009 according to the Associated Press. She made her US television debut on June 18, 2009, performing her debut single Bitter Heart live on Last Call With Carson Daly.
Her second album "Ghostbird" was released on August 23, 2011. The Book Of Morris Johnson was the first single off her sophomore effort. "Ghostbird" topped the US Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart and spawned hits like Swell Window and Concrete Wall after both songs were featured in Season 5 of the hit television series Gossip Girl. Avi has the distinction of being the first Malaysian singer to have albums on the US Billboard Hot 200 Albums chart and top a Billboard chart (Heatseekers Album).
She toured the United States with Pete Yorn from June to August 2009, the final leg being at the Music Box, Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood, California on August 27, 2009. She opened for the multi-talented Jack Johnson during his concert at the Greek Theater, UC Berkeley on October 6, 2010, and had the honor of collaborating with Johnson on a live mash-up of their respective hits Just You And Me and Breakdown. She also opened for Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and feminist icon Ani DiFranco at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on October 21, 2011 to mark the 20th anniversary of World Cafe.
Avi has performed sets at some of the most celebrated music tours and festivals, namely SXSW in Austin, Texas (March, 2009), Bonnaroo in Tennessee (June, 2009), San Francisco's Outside Lands (August, 2009), Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia (April, 2010), Lilith Fair in Ohio, New Jersey and Massachusetts (July, 2010), Mountain Jam in New York (May–June, 2012) and Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Sarawak (July 2012).
She toured Asia in November 2011, performing in Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, Bali, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Miri. This was followed by a US East Coast Tour in February 2012, with gigs in New York, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Maryland and North Carolina. In September 2012, she performed in six cities during her California Tour.
In December 2012, Avi was conferred the state order and medal of Pegawai Bintang Kenyalang (Officer of the Order of the Star of Hornbill Sarawak) for her service to the state of Sarawak by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Head of State). The award is the Fifth Rank of the Darjah Yang Amat Mulia Bintang Kenyalang Sarawak (Most Illustrious Order of the Star of Hornbill Sarawak).
Avi has often been called an old soul and it comes as no surprise because she is a huge fan of swing bands, Gershwin and America jazz from the 20s. She has been likened to Ella Fitzgerald many a times and one writer called her "the next heiress in the bloodline of young women with supernaturally classic voices".
She also describes herself as a "rock lover at heart". Her musical preference is pretty diverse, listening to everything from The Carpenters to The Cranberries. She draws inspiration from eccentrics Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Jolie Holland, Daniel Johnston and Chris Garneau, to jazz greats Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, and classics like Velvet Underground and Led Zeppelin.
Extended Plays (EPs)
|2010||One More Time With Colors||
|2012||Concrete Wall (Remixes)|
|Just You And Me|
|Is This The End||
|Siboh Kitak Nangis||
Non-Album Tracks & Collaborations
|Year||Track||Featured In Album (Artist)|
|2008||No Christmas For Me||
This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 1 (Various Artists)
|2011||Frosty The Snowman||
This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 2 (Various Artists)
|2012||Tomorrow Is A Long Time||
Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan (Various Artists)
|2013||Heart Of The Moment||
Full Moon (Mansions On The Moon)
Official Music Videos
|2011||The Book Of Morris Johnson||
|2008||No Christmas For Me||
|2010||Frosty The Snowman||
- Youth Icon (International) Award, presented by the Sarawak State Government in conjunction with Hari Perhimpunan Belia Negara 2011 Peringkat Negeri Sarawak (National Youth Assembly Day 2011 Sarawak State Level). She expresses her gratitude in a video posted by herself in YouTube
- The BrandLaureate Grandmaster Brand Icon Leadership Award 2012, presented by the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation for Zee’s achievements as a singer and songwriter, and for establishing a successful career in the international music scene.
- Pegawai Bintang Kenyalang (Officer of the Order of the Star of Hornbill Sarawak).She received the order by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Head Of State) in an investiture ceremony held in Kuching on December 12, 2012.
- Simple Zee
- last.fm Koko Kaina
- "Musicians receive state awards". The Borneo Post (in (English)). Retrieved 2012-12-15.
- YouTube - Zee Avi- An Introduction
- Interview: the refreshing Zee Avi
- Interview With Zee Avi - Singer/Songwriter
- Pledge Music: Zee Avi
- Zee's Open Road
- Brushfire Records to World-Premiere Their First-Ever Holiday CD Compilation Exclusively... | Reuters
- YouTube Leads To Fame For Singing Sensation
- The 10 Best Albums Of 2009
- Last Call With Carson Daly, Season 8, Episode 115
- TV Fanatic: Zee Avi Music
- KCRW Events schedule
- Yahoo Events schedule
- Jack Johnson's Chiller Instinct
- World Cafe 20th Anniversary Concert with Ani DiFranco
- SXSW Review: Zee Avi, Port O'Brien, The Mae Shi
- Riding the Outskirts of Outside Lands
- The 21st Annual Byron Bay Bluesfest
- Jones and Avi at Lilith Fair 2010
- Mountain Jam 2012: Steve Winwood, Mule, Franti, The Roots & More
- Rainforest Festival
- Two more Asian dates added to tour
- Happy New Year
- Zee Avi's California Tour Dates
- Zee Avi Among Three Artistes Bestowed State Awards
- Zee Avi: An Old Soul's Organic Sound
- Pop Matters: Zee Avi
- The Accidental Star
- Inspiration: Zee Avi
- Park City Film Music Festival 2012 Awards
- 2013 MVPA Award Nominees
- Zee Avi's Thank You Speech After Receiving the Youth Icon Award 2011
- The BrandLaureate Awards Brand ICON Leadership Awards
- Musicians receive state awards
- Official website
- Zee Avi on Twitter
- Zee Avi on Facebook
- Zee Avi on Instagram
- Zee Avi's Channel on YouTube
- KokoKaina's Channel on YouTube
- Brushfire Records Artist Profile - Zee Avi