We love Joe Zee for a variety of reasons: he’s Canadian! He’s incredibly friendly! He wears Chanel faux-fur suits around New York City in the middle of July and dirty dances with giant Elmos. He’s basically so awesome he can skip the line at The Met’s Alexander McQueen exhibit and we don’t even begrudge him for it! And now, thanks to an article in this weekend’s New York Times, we know that he was as much of a band geek in high school as he is now a Very Important Fashion Person, also known as a VIFP.
According to the Times (and in Zee’s words), he began as a “a classic, textbook overachieving Asian kid” who was good at basically everything except for phys ed. He was good at English, he was good at home ec, he was good at math, and he was really good at piano. He was so good at piano, in fact, that he got bored with it and decided to pick up the violin instead.
“I would sneak off at lunch and go into the music room,” he said. “Because of the piano, I could read music. And I’m a really good mimic, so I could watch TV footage of great concert violinists, watch how they sat, how they held the bow, and tried to just mimic that, over and over. One day it all fell into place, and I just kept doing it until I got it perfect.”
Would that his over-achieving stopped there!
But it did not stop there. After conquering the violin, Mr. Zee taught himself the viola, then the cello, then the bass. “It was fascinating to be able to do every part of a quartet,” he said. The following year, he thought he would try arranging a piece for an entire orchestra. “So I did,” he said, “and it was performed by a neighboring school.”
And now he is a super famous, VIFP. Let this be a lesson to you: your mom is right when she says piano will come in handy one day.