Zee Avi is just 23 but she's an old soul. A huge talent in a petite frame bringing a universal message from the unlikely birthplace of Borneo, an ancient island east of Malaysia which remains an untouched, natural paradise, an apt description of her songs.

Born in the tiny town of Miri in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, Zee grew up near the South China Sea in a liberal, encouraging household where her father owned an energy consultancy. "I was bred to be a lawyer," she says, but music was in her blood. Her father's father sang and played double-bass, accordion, violin and guitar in bands.

With an eclectic pool of influences that range from such eccentrics as Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Jolie Holland, Daniel Johnston and Chris Garneau, to jazz greats Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, to classics like Velvet Underground and Led Zeppelin, this self-described "rock lover at heart" captures the dark, bittersweet qualities of romance with a crack left open for hope and optimism.

The songs on Zee Avi's debut are about an outsider's desire to belong and the tentative hope of moving on, filled with regret and loss, but boasting an impish, worldly wise sensibility. "I tend to be a loner," she nods. " 'Honey Bee' is about a romance between two nonconformists who are different from the rest of the hive, and are trying to avoid the pressure to be like everybody else."

NAME: David Jerkovich

LOCATION: San Pedro, CA

BANDS, PAST & PRESENT: Novi Split. Ill Lit. The Real Diego. Kind of Like Spitting. The Cherry Chans. The Sexy Sexies. Sexplosion.

LYRICAL INSPIRATIONS: Records. Smart people with great ideas. I can’t think of one inspirational moment that sent me over any edge though. I wish I had a Purple Rain moment to talk about. I wish I had a basement with a piano and a purple bike. You bet your ass. I write and record everything in a bathroom. It’s what I’ve always done at the end of my nights. I swear to God, I sit on the can and play guitar all night.

When I was younger I remember this kid telling me he wrote songs on a cliff outlooking the ocean. He said he felt some “real shit” out there. It was nice to think that it happened that way for people.

FAVORITE SONGWRITERS: I think we can all agree on the greats. People like Springsteen, Roger Waters, Phil Ochs, Tom Waits, KRS-1, Leonard Cohen, Woody Guthrie, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Billy Bragg, David Berman, John Lennon, Willie Nelson, etc. They all have the ability to make you and your whole crew say, “damn.” But what really intrigues me are the questionable songwriters. People like John Prine, Raekwon the Chef, Robyn Hitchcock, Randy Newman, Rod McKuen. The people who seem to hit you in a way that even your crew can’t understand. The songwriters you’re almost embarrassed to love are the best….

$12.00 - $14.00

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Zee Avi with Novi Split

Saturday, May 11 · 6:00 PM at The Echo