In 2010, French musician Zaz released her debut/self-titled album into the world and since then, things have never been the same. Last November, she released her fourth album, Effet miroir - a glorious body of work that reminds us all that she still has so much art to share with the world. She has dominated France and most of Europe with her fun personality and talented approach to songwriting, and now she’s returned to the states to tour. We sent Ken Grand-Pierre to catch up with Zaz, ahead of her show at Town Hall.

Seeing you at Town Hall was truly something special. I first saw you perform at Webster Hall a long time ago. Since then, you’ve created a brilliant career. It makes me happy to know you can come to a city like New York and sell out the show, what was it like for you to do this?

It's great to return to the United States, and all the more in this beautiful theater. And to see that this New York City date has filled up very quickly, it's heartwarming. Especially since there were people coming from all horizons and not just from the French community in New York. It makes you want to come back! And that's what is happening since I will return in October to the US for a few dates. Can’t wait!

Both New York and France have similarities, particularly in how receptive they are towards artists. This wasn’t your first time in New York and I wonder if you have found yourself inspired by the energy of the city?

Yes, of course, there is something special on this island of Manhattan, around Times Square and Broadway. There is an overflowing of energy that exudes from the streets. It was so galvanizing and I was very excited on stage. I hope the audience felt it.

I want to ask about Effet miroir, but before I do I want to touch upon your previous album, Paris. To me, there’s an ability that artists have to delve deep into their creativity and to encapsulate that feeling with a moment. I feel that you did that on Paris, and doing so opened more doors for you, creatively speaking. Would I be right in thinking that? What do you feel you’ve taken away from the experience of making Paris?

It was a pretty crazy experience and I had a lot of fun. Paris is a city that moves me a lot and reminds me of those moments when my career really took off. I love this city, the monuments, its hidden places, the atmosphere that changes from one neighbourhood to another... And this Paris project where we took on great songs was just crazy, it allowed me to work with the greats: Quincy Jones, Charles Aznavour, John Clayton. In the studio, all together with the orchestra, it was just WOW. When that kind of stuff happens to you, it's crazy, you won’t believe it at the beginning and afterwards, that’s just sheer fun -- an unforgettable experience that I learned a lot from.

In regards to Effet miroir, how different was the recording process for this album in contrast to your previous albums?

I had more time for this one and so I was able to get fully involved in it. On the one hand, I think it's my most ‘crafted’ album. I was able to spend a lot of time in the studio with the producer and the ‘directeur artistique’ (A&R /music director) to fine tune, work the sounds and look for lots of details. And then it was not like I started, I dare now to fully trust myself, say what I want and say it when it's not right. It changes a lot of things for me.

I want to ask about your song 'Qué Vendrá'. It’s a song brimming with confidence and is a reminder that there are so many avenues of creativity you can explore. What was it like for you to bring this song into the studio?

I remember this afternoon when I was excited to get in studio and record. It was with Jo Francken, in his studio in Belgium. I was focused on what intended to give to the song, just thinking of conveying emotion, joy and at the same time, depth. It was a beautiful Belgian afternoon.

What stood out to me with listening to this album, like many of your works is that it’s clear you want the listener to be immersed within a world. How would you describe the world we experience on this newest album?

This is l’effet miroir (mirror effect), a multiple universe where we see different facets. The songs that we have chosen speak to me and take me back to what we see in each other. The exchanges we have with people remind us, above all things, what affects us. And what moved me at that moment is rather stories about love: love that we meet, love that comes, love that goes away and leaves traces, the one we felt and would not get rid of. I have the opportunity to travel a lot and meet so many great people, who tell me their stories and make me reflect on my own stories. There are many similarities in what we all live and experience, although of course each story is unique and we are all different.

Please talk to me about your philanthropy efforts with Zazimut. What are some projects you and your team there are working on?

Since I was little, I wanted to change things. In any case to take part in change. And since I sing, with my visibility, it allows me to do a lot of things. What matters to me is education. I think that the better we are educated, then we can take better care of ourselves and care for others. So we developed educational projects within Zazimut, to disseminate them to as many people as possible and make everyone move forward with a greater cause. Besides that, every night we use the merchandising booth (t-shirt, CDs) to fund and shed light on a local NGO and offer the public to join a project that makes sense at home. We have met more than 150 NGOs all over the world, we are gradually building up a network. It's so rewarding to see the positive effect it has when someone from the NGO comes on stage with me to explain their project during the set, the reaction of the audience is just crazy! And we extend the adventure, we federate the network by organizing citizen festivals. The first one I created in France, in the south, 3 years ago and another will take place for the first time this summer in Russia.

Going back to the Town Hall show, it was beautiful for me to see these two children who were running up and down the middle aisle. You have a song in your set that you dedicate to children, do you remember seeing those children running about?

Yes I saw them as well! It made me smile and gave me a lot of energy. Children are so cute!

Lastly, it’s clear to us who have followed tote career that you’ve grown as a performer, but tell me Zaz, how do you feel about your live show today? How do you feel about your growth as a performer?

It's a tough question. What I know is that I am enjoying myself more and more. When I began, I was so nervous that I hardly dared to go on stage. Now I still feel this huge adrenaline but it boosts me and makes me want to let go for the audience. Being on stage is really great. I am so blessed to give so many concerts. I'm looking forward to returning stateside!