Zee Avi and Hindi Zahra Perform and Chat in NYC

There’s a certain throwback feel going on with this week’s “A-Sides.” Zee Avi is a celebrated singer/songwriter from Malaysia who packs an emotional wallop with her retro cool indie-rock folkiness (making that a word, by the way). Meanwhile, Moroccan-born songstress Hindi Zahra is a buzzworthy artist who has been called a modern day Billie Holiday thanks to her unique blues, jazz-infused gypsy sound. I caught up with the two artists separately in Manhattan last week for an exclusive performance and informal chat.

First was Avi, who is currently on tour in support of her sophomore album “ghostbird.” The pint-sized artist, who’s as infectious off stage as she is on, played “Milestone Moon” off that album with her band just prior to taking the stage at the Highline Ballroom. Next was Zahra, who admitted to being a bit jetlagged when we met at the press here publicity offices. Showing no signs of it, the singer/songwriter delivered an intimate performance of “Don’t Forget” off her debut American release “Handmade.” The album came out digitally last week (a physical album will be out Oct. 11). Zahra is currently prepping for her first stateside tour. Watch these two remarkable ladies below…

Zee Avi – “Milestone Moon” and More

Hindi Zahra – “Don’t Forget” and Not Forgetting Who Came Before Her

About “A-Sides with Jon Chattman”

Jon Chattman’s music series features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I’m hoping this is refreshing.