Fascinated with space exploration and music technology, Zia integrated these elements into its music and performances, creating new wave-styled, electronic pop. The band assembled their own instrumentation, using circuit boards as drum pads and a guitar-shaped MIDI controller.
In 1992, Zia began as an aggro-synth project borrowing members from other Boston bands such as Big Catholic Guilt and Concussion Ensemble. With a revolving lineup (vocalist/programmer Elaine Walker is the only constant member), two albums were issued: the self-released ZIAv1.5 in 1994 and SHEM (Fifth Column) in 1996. While supporting the records, the band played with notable acts such as Emergency Broadcast Network and A Flock of Seagulls.
With the addition of Berklee College of Music alumni Liz Lysinger and Hae Young Kim (all three members hold a degree in music synthesis), Zia relocated to New York in 1999. After extensive negotiations with GIG Records, the band chose to proceed independently just before the completion of their next LP. Big Bang!, which leans more toward new wave-influenced pop than their previous brand of industrial, was self-released in June 2000.