On Nov. 17, soul pop singer-songwriter Izzy Bizu hopped on stage at the British Embassy in all of her retro glory. The 22-year-old was there to perform as one of three acts in the first-ever BBC Music Presents US tour, created in partnership with Live Nation and the GREAT Britain campaign to introduce rising British artists to the American music market.
Bizu, along with music groups Spring King and Sundara Karma, embarked on their six-stop tour in mid-November, taking a small detour for an exclusive showcase in Washington, D.C.
Bizu’s family members, namely her aunt and younger cousins, are from the area, and were in attendance for the Thursday night show. Her aunt hadn’t seen Bizu in six years, and was nothing but smiles as soon as her niece began her set.
Following her performance, The Diamondback got a chance to email with the pop star.
The Diamondback: You’ve just released your debut studio album. Tell me about it.
Izzy Bizu: The album is called A Moment Of Madness, it’s my first album and it’s about discovering who you are as a young adult. It’s jazzy, soul and melancholic. I made it with some pretty cool people.
DBK: What was recording the album like for you? Are there any standout moments from the recording that you can recall?
IB: It was an amazing experience! I worked with lots of people I am now friends with and I [learned] a lot from working with more experienced producers and musicians. It was amazing seeing my songs come to life and moments like watching string sections record their parts [were] incredible. The best thing was making the relationships I did with producers who understood me and brought the best out of me, although in the beginning it was sometimes hard sharing your innermost feelings with people you don’t know that well.
DBK: Do you write most of your songs? If so, what is your writing process like? If not, who do you collaborate with to make them, and why?
IB: I write all my lyrics and sometimes I have lyrics I have written at home or on the train. Other times I’m inspired by the session and what has come out musically. I love just jamming with musicians and creating a song out of a jam session.
DBK: Izzy, you’re very young. Did you ever find it difficult for people to take you seriously as an artist?
IB: If people did they hid it well. … Everyone I worked with let me express myself and I felt a lot of mutual respect.
DBK: When did you realize you wanted to pursue your career? Was getting this far easy?
IB: I always wrote poems and I guess it was transforming those poems into songs that started it. At boarding school I sang in front of the whole school and I was really nervous but proved to myself that I could perform in front of an audience. My experiences at music college helped me understand the whole idea of being an artist. I can’t say that it has been easy but it has been a lot of fun as well … [and I have learned] that the only [way] is to just take each day as it comes.
DBK: What so far has been the most incredible experience of your singing career?
IB: There has been so many … I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve played some great gigs and I love the festivals. I think it was being nominated for [Brit Critics’ Choice Award]. So many great artists have been nominated before me [so] it was truly special.
DBK: What/who inspires your music? What/who inspires you as a person?
IB: I’m inspired by so many things. People I know, artists I listen to and things that happen to me and the people I love.
DBK: What has been your favorite city to play?
IB: I love playing in my hometown, London, but Paris holds a special place in my heart. I love the city, it’s so beautiful and I love the French people.
DBK: Where does your stage name come from?
IB: It’s my real name. My first name is Isobel and my middle name is Bizu, which is Ethiopian.
DBK: What are you most excited about in terms of your future in music?
IB: Right now, I can’t wait to get back in the studio. I love that! I just hope more people get to hear my music and enjoy it, and whatever comes with that. We are also doing some dates in Japan in January, which is really exciting.