Zoë Jackson : Interview 30
Zoë is a photographer, musician, and cultural explorer. We met briefly with mutual friends while watching her brother perform at The Viper Room in Hollywood. When I got to know her and saw her stunning photography, I had to line her up for an interview. I’m really glad she said yes. Meet Zoë.
How do you define being “in love”?
Oh god. [Laughter] I have such weird feelings about love because I thought I knew what it was…and then it wasn’t. And I thought I was in love, but then didn’t think I really was, so I don’t really know. It should be really natural and you shouldn't have to question if you are in love or not. I think if there was a moment where I could be with someone and think, “This is the last person I could ever be with,” I’d be totally content. If I could spend every day with them and not look for something else.
Me: Have you had that?
Zoë: Yes. It started when I was young, but it resurfaced with the same person more recently. But it will never actually be. It’s that kind of thing.
Me: I know those.
What does failure look like to you?
I think it’s a low point, but it’s really another starting point. My dad’s always like, “You always keep learning and you never know anything.” If you did know everything, failure wouldn’t be a thing. It’s like tripping. And then starting again and then tripping again… Everybody makes mistakes, but mistakes aren’t failures.
Me: Do you have a point in your life when you think you’ve failed?
Zoë: Being an anxious person and being hyper self-conscious, maybe I thought I was failing. Or when kids are talking to their parents and they’re upset like, “I’m a failure! I’m a waste of time!” Something dramatic like that. I’ve definitely had a lot of those moments, but I don’t think they were realistic at all looking back on them. I’m always doing so much more than I realize I’m doing that my parents have been like, “You’re kidding.” I never really quit things. I keep going. So I don’t think I’ve had a big failure yet. There have been missteps in friendships where I could have done better. And I do think that’s a failure, but I always try to go back and rebuild.
Is there anything in your life that you wish you could change?
I haven’t been playing music a lot lately and that—I didn't realize it at first, but that’s really affected my mental stability and well-being. I’ve been kept busy, but I have on and off depression, so when I’m in a funk, I realize how much I miss music more. It’s so healing and very meditative for me. I can’t go back and change it, but I’d like to go back and try to get back to where I was musically. I just need to get into the right mental place to start it up again. It’s one of the best things in the world, but I ditched it for a while because I was so upset about things. I started playing bass because of my dad, then we were having a really rough patch so I projected onto my instrument…
Me: You took it out on your bass?
Zoë: Yeah. I had to leave it. I couldn’t even look at it.
Me: For sure. I’ve been there.
Zoë: I had to put it away. It made me so sad all the time. But that’s one of the major things that I would change.
Me: You mentioned depression. What do you do to combat it?
Zoë: I go to a lot of therapy! [Laughter] My therapist is the best. Finding a good therapist is really important. I’ve been dealing with it for a long time. When you’re little, you go to a bunch of therapists and they do those stupid ink blot things or they’re like, “Finish this story” and they’re like, “Your kid has a problem” and my parents are like “Dude, we already know. That’s why we’re here.” [Laughter] I’m a dark person on top of just having issues so people might read things weirdly. That and traveling saved me the most. Being able to be in a space and not worry about what’s happening here. Obviously, I’m still in my own life, but being away from it…
Me: You need to look back in… Self-reflection.
Zoë: Yeah! Learning ways that people relax and find peace in different cultures has really really helped me. I have all these crazy Japanese tattoos, but they’re reminders to come to term with things and be at peace with things and forcing myself to see that some things you can’t change.
What's one thing you don't know now, but feel compelled to know before you die?
I really want to be fluent in Japanese, as you know. It’s kind of the center of my world. I always want to learn new skills and then never do. Things will seem interesting to me, but I won’t go for them. I do want to get my degree in psychology, but that’s something I can do down the road. My mom’s getting her Masters right now and she started school a bit later in life, so she’s been a good example of that for me. She did it online, but she’s killing it! If I ever want to add that on top of it, it’s not something I threw away because I can always bring it back. I’m really passionate about psychology. I read a lot of books and studies because it’s something I love. So…that! [Laughter]
What will you miss the most when you’re gone?
I’ve premeditated death a lot. I think we, as an American—a western culture think about death in the wrong way. A lot of eastern cultures really celebrate it. Instead of just pure grieving, it’s wishing the dead well because they want to believe there’s something else. When people are just content realizing that death is something we can’t change and are being hopeful. And also being able to literally rest in peace when you’re the one resting in peace.
Wait, what was the question? [Laughter]
Me: What will you miss the most…
Zoë: Right! I’m assuming there’s no food wherever you go, so that’s a thing! [Laughter] But I don’t want to say that I’ll miss people because hopefully I’ll see them there, wherever that is. Like if your memories or you soul are somewhere and you’re doing something. I don’t think I can bring my camera with me, so that’s a thing too! [Laughter] If there was a heaven and hell, I’ll probably be going to hell, but I think it’ll be kind of a party! [Laughter]