For most artists, preparing their debut album is something that their entire life builds towards.
Izzy Bizu, though, has had hers in the can for months now – done, dusted, completed. Just like that.
But the apparent ease of this tale doesn’t quite reveal the struggles, the weeks and months of musical perspiration that went into perfecting each track.
Debut album ‘A Moment Of Madness’ is out now, and with Izzy Bizu selling out venues across the land it is meeting a rapturous audience.
Clash spoke to the buoyant singer a matter of hours before the release, and managed to gain a glimpse into Izzy’s world.
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So what have the past 12 months been like?
Oh, it’s been absolutely incredible. Since we got the BRIT Critics Choice nomination it’s been really, really hectic. It was all so much! Then we did festivals, and it all filled out. But I’ve actually found it really calming and fun. We finished the album, which is really cool. And then I went away for a week, and came back to do more festivals. It’s been really, really nice. Had lots of fun at Secret Garden, Pukkelpop was great. It’s been nice!
And somewhere in that hectic schedule you finished the record – were you forced to record it in fits and spurts?
I started working on the album straight after my EP came out. So, I’ve had it on lockdown for a while. And then just did some finishing touches to it this year. But yeah, it’s pretty much done. Which is nice, as there wasn’t pressure to finish it – it was really chilled out. And then I spent most of this year just gigging.
Were you tempted to go back to the recordings and make changes? Are you a fiddler by nature?
I was tempted, yeah. But sometimes you just want to leave it as it is, because that’s the most special form of how it’s supposed to be. And then we made a few changes. I think that if you can change it further then you would – so it’s probably just better to let it go, give it its natural form. See what happens!
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I’ve had it on lockdown for a while...
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It kicks off with ‘Diamond’, which is quite a statement. What you made you put it at the beginning of the record?
It’s definitely one of my favourite tracks. I wanted to come in and show people my jammiest sort of tune. It was one of the first tracks that I recorded after the EP and we ended up going on a little adventure, coming out of my shell. Sentimentally, it meant a lot to me: so I released it.
You’ve worked extremely fast – sessions must have been enormously productive. Did there come a point where you thought, how can I actually fit everything on here?
Oh my God, yeah! We had so many conversations! We ended up with 17 songs, and I just wanted to have all of them on the album. I wanted everyone to hear it... because I just couldn’t choose what I didn’t want on there, and what I wanted. All the songs worked with each other, and it’s all one big story, so I felt like if I took out some songs then there would be missing pieces. It’s all on the Deluxe, so that’s good. It was hard to pick and choose, though, for sure.
You make it sound so relaxed, though! Are you laidback by nature?
Well, now and again. Like everyone! Pretty relaxed. It’s always nice to work with the guys. I worked with the guitarist a lot, and then other producers as well. They all play instruments, which is really cool. So just jamming. Improvising. After that it turned into a song. So it was a really nice, chilled way to write. I could tell when I was performing, if there was an uneasy feeling then it was obviously more tense when I had to sing. But I always ended up feeling nice.
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I’m really stubborn in that way!
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Were you working to a deadline?
The best thing was that I wasn’t. I finished it so early. We’d pretty much finished an album before we signed to the record label, and so most of the work was done already. And I wanted to do that because I’m really not that good under loads of pressure. When it comes to performing it’s different, but when it’s writing… for me, I produce my best work when I’m not really being told that I have to. I feel like I wouldn’t be writing for the right reasons. I’m really stubborn in that way! So it’s good that we didn’t have pressure.
The improvisational nature of those sessions would only thrive without pressure, it would seem.
Yeah, it’s the best thing. When everyone’s in their own little world!
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Have you always written like that?
Yeah, that’s the way I’ve always really done it. And sometimes I’ll be here, jamming by myself. Which is nice… some alone time! So it’s a mix of things, really. Lyrically, this is quite a personal record – you focus on relationships, on doubts, and inner feelings.
Was that something you would complete alone?
Well, yes. Sometimes. At the start I used to slur my words a lot, so people couldn’t really hear what I was saying. I was so embarrassed, I didn’t want people to know what I was talking about. Then my diction got bad. I didn’t want people to know, but when I wrote the songs down I’d say what I’d say. But yeah… I have a bit of fun with it, but I’ve always said what I felt.
Do you still slur your words?
Yeah! I had to work on my diction a lot for performances. But I slur sometimes, a little bit. It’s a habit that came from writing. But I work on it, yeah.
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At the start I used to slur my words a lot, so people couldn’t really hear what I was saying.
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Which of the songs on her do you think you’re most proud of?
Probably ‘Mad Behaviour’ and ‘White Tiger’. Those are the two most personal songs I’ve ever written. And they’re both about someone that I really, really admire. And love. So they’ll forever be sentimental for me, and I’m just glad that I could be 100% honest in those songs.
‘White Tiger’ was such a great breakout moment for you. What’s it like to have something so personal be adopted by so many different people?
It’s really incredible! I’m so happy that people can relate to it, because I’ve done that myself. I didn’t think it would go that far. Obviously, I’m happy with it and I’m pleased with myself, but I never really imagined it would really go like that. Out of all the songs I’ve written… I have different expectations for every song, and that actually wasn’t what I expected but it was one of the songs that I was happiest with. I guess an artist’s perspective on what is commercially good and someone else’s is different, so I had no idea. But it feels amazing! And it’s nice when people sing along at the gigs.
Given that the album’s been in the can for some time now, have you already begun to record new material?
Bits and bobs. It depends how much time I’ve got, because sometimes you get back and you’ve got one day and you’re absolutely mashed and it’s like: oh my God, I need some sleep! And then other days I’ll grab a guitar and go jamming, alone, in the park. Studio-wise… I think I’ll get back into it seriously when I’m done with the promo for this, and then go into my own world again. My own little bubble! Because that’s a really beautiful thing.
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It’s been such a massive journey up to this point...
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The release is pretty close…
I know, I know! I’m really excited. And scared.
Are you excited more than scared?
I have no idea, actually. I don’t know how I feel! It’s weird! There’s moments when I get really excited, and then I think: no, I actually don’t like it. I think I’m probably more excited than nervous. It’s been such a massive journey up to this point, and it’ll be good to let it fly off in to the wind, and see what happens. I can’t wait to do loads more gigs, as well.
Gigs is where you notice the connection with the crowd, isn’t it?
Yeah. The first time people started singing along I couldn’t even finish the line properly because I was so shocked. It was really cool, though! It’s really sweet. I go travelling a lot, and sometimes you get lonely, so it’s really nice to see that many people supporting you, and just being really sweet. It’s a really good feeling.
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'A Moment Of Madness' is out now.