MILK.XYZ International: London's Izzy Bizu is Serving up R&B Gold
Izzy Bizu is that rare breed of musician who’s hit it big and—excuse the cliché—still manages to wear her heart on her sleeve. She’ll be the first to admit it, too; and it’s this self-awareness of her own emotional propensity that makes tracks like “White Tiger” and ” –” (a personal favorite of Bizu’s) that much more powerful.
After viral success made its stamp on Bizu’s career, she was quickly dubbed the latest UK It-girl. The moniker fits. Reminiscent of fellow Londoner (and always-icon) Amy Winehouse, Bizu’s debut album, A Moment of Madness, is proof that this songstress is not one hit wonder—on the contrary, she’s here to stay.
I heard you played at Baby’s All Right! How’d it go?
Really cool, really really nice. It was very intimate and it reminded me of the first gig I ever did in London. It was just a really nice vibe. Great support acts as well.
Yeah! Every time I go to Babies I have the best night, it’s so fun.
I know! I feel like the energy there is amazing and the audience is funny as hell.
Have you played in New York before?
I have, but not my own show. So this felt like the real deal for me.
What was it like to just return to New York and then be front and center for the show?
Beautiful. Because I was here for the week before so I got to really experience New York—Harlem, High Line, went out there, and met those lovely people. I just really felt like I almost moved here or something!
Yeah! It’s sad that people only come here for two or three days and all they do is work the whole time. They don’t catch the vibe at all.
Yeah, it’s important to catch the vibe of things. That’s why I came earlier.
So I know your album has been out for awhile now, but what’s the reception been like so far? How are people responding?
It’s been good, it’s been really good. And people, I feel like, they like to dance with it and they like to dance with it and connect with the lyrics, which I really love. I’m really happy with it, that’s what I wanted. I always find comfort in it because it’s like the things I was going through on my own and other people go through it. I feel unified with people who live so far away from me. It’s a really special thing.
It’s cool when the songs kind of take on a life of their own, and they become so meaningful to people you’ve never met. What kind of headspace were you in when you were recording? Like where were you mentally and emotionally in your writing and everything?
A very naive headspace…I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know anything about love. It’s was first time I had any sort of responsibilities, at that moment. I didn’t know the industry that well either. And then I came in, eyes wide open, and everything happened at once. It was so dramatic, it was like a rollercoaster. It was like, “Oh my god, I’m super excited about something!” Then I have these high expectations of something and then “Aw.” There were these slopes up and down, but it was so exciting as well. I was never bored, always spontaneous, so I really enjoyed it.
Do you feel, even from when you made the album up until now, like you’ve become less naive and know the ropes more?
I’ll always be naive. That is something that will never leave me. I’ve learned to be more streetwise, I think I’ve gained streetwise. I have to make an effort, it’s not something that comes naturally to me.
That’s interesting, I feel like most people I talk to are the opposite. They’re maybe jaded or whatever it is, but they have to work to be vulnerable with their writing.
Yeah, I can see that. I’m always gonna be overly trusting in people, but I just have to learn how to be more reserved.
So as far as the album, obviously everyone likes “White Tiger” and some other tracks, but do you have a personal favorite? One that’s particularly close to your heart?
Yeah I do! I’ve got “Mad Behavior”. For some reason, every time I sing it it just gets to me. I’ll always go back to the exact same emotion, the exact same place I was when I felt that way. It’s crazy. It doesn’t matter how much I try to get away from that because it’s kind of hard let go of that stuff, you know what I’m saying? I always end up there. It is one of the saddest songs I’ve written. It’s probably one of the most insecure moments and I feel like I really overcome that, but that was a part of who I am and who I was. It’s quite a spiritual moment for me as well—sort of asking this extra energy to forgive your insecurities in a weird way. It’s like you’re pleading with some sort of spirit to get out of you and let you have a clean slate, I guess?
When you’re on stage and performing that, do you feel that intensity? You’re just being so vulnerable. What’s that like?
It’s quite relieving, yeah?
Yeah, like cathartic?
Yeah, it’s really relieving like a spiritual moment. It’s only after the song I feel like crying. Sometimes I gotta hold myself back ’cause I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m just gonna burst into tears.”
And it’s good! It’s like a relieving thing, a cleaning thing. I need to hold myself back because I’ll sobbing the whole night like an absolute wimp. It’s not good [Laughs]. And then by the end you get to “White Tiger” and it’s nice. And after that it’s kind of like a good something. Like when you’re crying and someone makes you laugh. It’s like one of those moments. I really enjoy that emotion change.
Yeah the dichotomy is cool. To have both on the same album is good.
Oooo I like that. “Dichotomy” I like that. [Laughs]
So I know Cool Beans came out four years ago and you were independent at the time. Now that you’ve found a label, what’s that transition like?
I think I wrote the whole album before I even stepped into the label and they picked me up based on that. It’s such a relief because I just hate writing under pressure. I like to be prepared like, “This is what I’ve got.”
Yeah and it’s like, “Take it or leave it.”
I like doing that, I like to be prepared. Yeah the transition was fine. It was quite smooth. Obviously, there are gonna be moments where you don’t quite agree on something. People aren’t always gonna agree on the same thing all the time, it’s only natural. I really learned how to make my own decisions with stuff like that. But yeah it did really help me really learned to do my own decision making. You start on your own and then you have these people, amazing people who were doing so well in the past, trying to guide you.
Especially while being young and so impressionable with all of these other people.
Yeah, you need that balance! And be considerate, you don’t want to be a wanker.
Yeah totally, because that’s the worst cliché of a musician.
So have you have any shows with Coldplay yet or how long have you been on tour?
One day in and it’s great! And, it’s so funny, I had interviews the other day asking, “Well, how’d you feel about it?” And I was like “I don’t know! I really don’t know how I feel about it.” So I’m really glad I have an interview today so I can actually talk about it. It’s the most calming experience working with them.
It’s not what I expected. I thought I would be nervous. I thought I’d be shittin’ myself. I thought I’d be shaking and stuff.
Oh God, I would be.
And they had this really therapeutic music when we went on. When we were about to go on it was like getting a massage from Thailand or something. It felt like I was in the beach and it was really hot as well, even though it was a stadium. And then, halfway through my sound check, Chris [Martin] was like, “Don’t worry, it’s really nice audience. I hope it goes well!” And I was just so taken by it, just so nice! I never felt comfortable with someone so influential. What a lovely man, what a lovely band. Yeah that was really nice. Just like the whole team, backstage, everyone, it was a village. I lost my skateboard twice that night and it was brought back to me anywhere I went to. Yeah, so it was just a really amazing vibe.
How long are you guys on tour?
Five weeks. It’s a good amount of time. And I just can’t wait to see all of America. I’m just so happy and lucky.
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