It takes a particular type of grit and gumption to make it in today’s music business. Hailing from Los Angeles, Pop singer, songwriter, and producer IZZA has that in spades and isn’t afraid to bare her soul to the world. Seamlessly blending a gritty pop sound blended with unapologetic lyrics, she explores the duality between fantasy and reality in an efffort to find purpose in a materialistic world. Her journey began at age 13, when writing songs became a form of therapy. She never had the resources to talk to anyone about her struggles as a young female. Writing music gave her the freedom to say whatever she wanted without consequence or restriction. Her captivating songs focus on common threads of empowerment and self-discovery, which she believes are crucial in paving the way for women to express themselves through music. IZZA recently took time out to chat with Icon Vs. Icon about her blossoming career, creative process, and dedication to her craft.
What are your first memories of music?
My first memories of music come from listening to music my parents would play in our house or the car. We would listen to artists like Led Zeppelin and Johnny Cash.
How did you first start getting involved with the arts?
I have always played instruments like piano and guitar from an early age. I would play in piano recitals and was even in a rock band where I sang and played guitar.
What can you tell us about the process of finding your creative voice as a young artist?
My creative voice has changed, especially within the past two years. My earlier music is more hip-hop and EDM-centric, whereas my music now is pop. I love making pop music, but I want to incorporate the energy of hip-hop into my music. Exploring genres has allowed me to experiment with different sounds and formulate my own voice.
Who were some of the people behind the scenes who helped shape the artist we see today?
There are many people that helped contribute to the creation of my music and brand. Music is so much more than just songwriting or singing. I am so grateful for the team I have everywhere, from the producers to the photographers I work with. I couldn’t do what I do without them.
I’m sure you get asked about your influences quite a bit, so I wanted to change it up a bit. What springs to mind when you think of the albums that impacted you the most at critical points in your life?
“Watch The Throne” was a very impactful album for me. I used to listen to that album every day in my car on the way to high school. That album made me feel confident and free when I listened to it, even though I didn’t feel like that in my day-to-day life. It was an escape from all my problems and made me realize how music can make you feel indescribable things.
What drew you to songwriting early on in life?
I discovered songwriting as a form of therapy to cope with my problems when I was a young kid. I didn’t have anyone I could go to and talk to about my struggles, so songwriting was a way for me to express my feelings in a creative way.
At what point did you realize a music career was something you had to pursue?
From a very young age, I knew that I wanted to have a career in music; I just didn’t know how to get there. So it wasn’t until college that I studied music business and really began to form my voice and brand as an artist.
Dedicating yourself fully to your art is a big step. But, did you ever have any reservations about taking the plunge?
I can’t imagine not making music. But I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing, so that is something that I don’t question.
The music industry isn’t an easy place to make a living. What has kept you inspired throughout the years as an artist and fueled your creative fire?
For me, it just goes back to my “why.” I make music because it is what is natural to me. I don’t think I could stop making music even if I tried. It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life, so it just feels like a necessity like eating and sleeping.
You are clearly very driven when it comes to your career. In your opinion, how did that drive end up in your DNA?
Both of my parents are very hard-working people. I think being raised by two people that are driven inevitably made me a motivated person. Also, with being passionate about music, it is easy to be driven because it is what I love the most.
What lessons did you learn early on in your career that continue to resonate?
A lesson I learned early on is that people will always have an opinion whether you ask for it or not. Therefore, I take feedback with a grain of salt because if I am happy with the work, that is all that matters to me at the end of the day.
You have a brand-new track on the way titled “Shut Up!” What can you tell us about the song and what it means to you?
“Shut Up!” is a song I wrote about taking back your power through individuality. I believe social media teaches a lot of people that you must follow a “certain mold” to fit in. I felt the most lost when I wasn’t being my authentic self. This song is about celebrating yourself, and I think that has been the key to happiness for me.
You’ve got some great tunes that people for people to explore. What can you tell us about the songwriting process for your music?
The songwriting process for me comes pretty naturally. I just say what’s on my mind and try not to overthink it. I rarely go back and change lyrics. Usually, I’ll write songs from top to bottom and maybe take breaks in between sections. I’m not too precious because I think songwriting is not only about word choice but also about instinct.
Songwriting is often intensely personal and allows one to bare their soul in many ways. Was it difficult to get to the point where you could freely share your emotions?
It’s way easier for me to express my feelings in a song rather than in a conversation with someone. Songwriting really breaks that barrier of fear or hesitation that comes with being vulnerable. I feel like I can say whatever I want when I’m writing a song and not have any reservations.
What was the first song you ever wrote, and what was the last one you worked on?
The first song I ever wrote was in 5th grade. I had a best friend who was starting to drift apart from me, and I didn’t know why. I felt like I would see her at school and not even recognize her. The song was called “Stranger” because I felt as though we didn’t know each other anymore. The last song I wrote was “Love Bracelets,” which talks about wanting material things rather than relationships because they won’t disappoint you as people do. It’s funny how both have similar themes of being let down.
Inspiration can strike at any moment. Do you have any specific processes or methods for logging your ideas?
My mind is constantly working, so my inspiration is honestly 24/7. I think 80% of my ideas come to me while I’m driving, so I have to record my ideas on voice memos to get the ideas down. I’ve been collecting ideas for so long in my notes and voice memo apps that I feel like I can write whenever I want to because I have a lot of material to work with.
How do you view your evolution as a songwriter?
By writing a ton of songs, I have learned what I like and don’t like. It’s now easier for me to know what kind of song I am writing because I have developed my own style. I have refined my writing techniques and have created a formula that works best for me. So, the only difference from my earlier songwriting days is that I have more of a structured way of creating songs.
What genres do you gravitate to as a music fan?
I obviously like pop music because that is the genre I make, but I also love hip-hop and rap. There is a certain kind of confident energy found in hip-hop/rap that I am drawn to.
Any guilty pleasures?
I love watching the show “Selling Sunset” because I have always been interested in real estate. Also, it has been my goal to get one of my songs placed in their show because I think my songs about LA would fit well.
A music career has a lot of moving parts. What do you consider the biggest challenges you face as an independent artist moving forward?
Getting noticed is a challenge. Social media is great because it allows sharing your art
with the world instantly, but this is something everyone is doing.
As an artist, so many things can be said about the current state of music. What excites you about the music today?
Now more than ever, I believe people are more open to listening to new artists and music. This is obviously exciting for a newer artist like myself.
What’s the best way for fans of your work to support you and help grow your art?
Are there any specific musical territories you find yourself drawn to or are eager to explore?
I would love to tour and travel to different countries in Europe and Asia as well as within the United States. It excites me that my music can reach international listeners.
Where do you see yourself headed in the future — in the short and long term? Any teasers on what you have in store for us?
I want to make music for the rest of my life and continue to share my stories with my listeners. My short-term goals are to keep grinding and making the best music I can make. In the future, I really want to go on tour and perform live.
You can serve as a great inspiration for so many aspiring artists and young people. So what is the best lesson we can take away from your journey so far?
What I have learned from making music is that it is what makes me the happiest. To me, happiness is the most important thing in life. I believe you should pursue whatever passion you may have, even if it is untraditional or goes against the grain, because you only get one life.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.