One of my goals for starting the Big Words Blog Site was to provide exposure for other talented individuals around me looking to launch their own unique endeavors. One of my first interviews was with the Swamp Media Group, the creators of the Space Detective Movie, which has grown in international exposure. Another up and coming artist is vocalist Michael I-Zayah who hails out of Atlanta, GA. He has been working on perfecting his craft over the past several years and is looking to get signed by a music label sometime soon. His latest single and video are titled, ‘New Panties’ (see the YouTube link below). In this short interview, Michael I-Zayah talks about his background, his influences, his new single and his career goals.
Anwar Dunbar: First of all, Michael, thank you for agreeing to do this interview. We’re actually cousins and as such, I know how hard you’ve been working on your music career. I’m honored to help you get exposure for your art. For all artists and creators of things, exposure is definitely critical. Now I may know who you are (laughing), but let’s start off by telling the readers a little bit about yourself and your background. Where are you from and how did you decide to get involved in music?
Michael I-Zayah: I was raised in Atlanta, but I also represent Buff-City because much of my family is from there. If anyone doesn’t know, that’s Buffalo, NY.
AD: Do you go by the name Michael I-Zayah? Or just by I-Zayah?
MI: I go by Michael I-Zayah. At one time I did go by just I-Zayah, but after dealing with so many stage names, I decided to go with Michael I-Zayah. My middle name is Isaiah, like the prophet in the Bible, but I re-created it as “I-Zayah” because it has a unique look to it.
AD: So you created this yourself and it’s spelled I-ZAYAH and sounds like Isaiah?
AD: That is very unique. How did you get interested in music?
MI: Ever since I was a kid I’ve always been interested in music. When I was a baby, my mother would tell me that every time we were in the car listening to music, I would dance to it and move my head around. I also always liked to play with my toy microphone, and I always had dreams of music and acting. I was going through a lot of stuff in my teens and I just didn’t have the drive to pursue it, so I had to put it on hold. Music and acting are my main passions. That’s what I love to do.
AD: So you’ve always been interested in the arts, and you’re in your mid-20s now. Who are some of your influences? Who did you listen to when you were coming up?
MI: I listened to a lot of music from the 90s like Jodeci, Ginuwine, and Boyz II Men, just naming a few. I can go on all day, but I just like to tell people that I was really influenced by the 90s R&B era. It was my favorite time. He’s not from the 90s, but I always get comparisons to Barry White because of my baritone voice, and to The Weekend because of my background melodies.
AD: Yes, that was a great time for Hip Hop and R&B – one of my favorites too. Much of today’s music sounds strange to me. As I told you once, it took me a minute to catch on to Fetty Wap and appreciate his unique vocal sound. Today’s stuff is cool when I’m out, but when I’m alone or at the gym working out, I usually go back to the 80s and 90s sounds, though it could be just because I have personal attachments to those eras similar to you and the 90s.
As an artist yourself, how would you describe the changes in Hip Hop and R&B from then to now? Has it become more about making one hit? Is it more for the club? Has it become more about image?
MI: You know what, I would say that it’s honestly all of the above. I would also say that not all of the R&B music in this era is the same. You have different sections and categories, and you have different sounds. The younger generation of R&B is more popping now, but there are some artists who still turn out music like that from the 90s like Jodeci – they just released a record in 2015.
AD: Do you like any of the music pre-1990 or that you heard you mother listening to?
MI: My mother loved listening to Marvin Gaye, Chaka Khan, and Maze featuring Franky Beverly. Some legendary heavy hitters I’d like to work with one day if I could, are Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins and Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds. Darkchild produced for groups like Destiny’s Child (Say My Name) and artists like Brandy and Monica (The Boy Is Mine). I remember that prior to Babyface going solo, he was in the group ‘The Deele’; they made hits like ‘Two Occasions’ and ‘Sweet November’. I’m also a fan of Barry White.
AD: How would you describe your style? Is it R&B, or would it be more like music for the club? Talk about your musical style and genre.
MI: That’s a good question because in terms of my style, I do R&B, R&B Soul and R&B Pop. As far as my flavor, when people see me – how I dress and how I look, some people wonder if I’m a rapper and that’s not the case. I do have an urban look, but I can also dress classy.
AD: You just released a new single and it’s called ‘New Panties’. When I first saw the image for the single, I wasn’t sure if this was good for the brand I’m trying to build (laughing), but when I heard the song and saw the video I thought it was pretty hot. It’s a track that I can envision nodding my head to slowly while sipping a drink at happy hour at a club or a lounge like The Park at 14th here in DC on a Friday evening. You can keep playing it over and over again and start feeling nice. It definitely has a modern sound to it in terms of the way you’re delivering the lyrics rhythmically and the sound of the beat – the keyboards in the background and the drum beat. It’s also very sexual (laughing), so exotic dancers could also use it. What’s it about and where did it come from?
MI: Well honestly (laughing), that was my songwriter’s story, and I want to send a shout to Carlos, aka Mr. Nine Dimensional. He was telling me about an incident that he and some other people had experienced. He had it stuck in his head and he told me about it. So we tried to figure out how we could make it into a song. In terms of the hook, we talked a lot about how it should sound. He told me what the words were and I worked on coming up with the rhythm, added some more stuff in there and voila – it turned into the song and the rest is history.
To see the “New Panties” video, click the following link:
AD: Who created the track – the instrumental you’re singing over?
MI: It was a producer named DK and I’d like to send a shout out to him as well. He’s an up and coming producer and he created the beat.
AD: Have you guys approached any DJs or nightclub promoters about putting it in rotation during an event? If not, you definitely should.
MI: It’s been played at clubs and events, and I’m going to try to get it on the radio very soon.
AD: So you have a video to go with the single as well. How many singles have you released?
MI: I have three tracks. My initial goal is to have at least three to six tracks. All of them are going to have a unique sound and flavor. Besides DK, I’m also working with Four Front Beats – shout out to them. I’m working with BricksDaMane. I’m also working with Frank Bank who is a producer, an artist and a CEO from California – shout out to him. I want to send a shout out to Tony Sway. BricksDaMane has a lot of heavy connections in the music business and industry. I’ve known him since 2013 and I found out that he either produced or engineered Drake’s last album. He also produced or engineered one of Young Thug’s projects. These are the people I’ve been working with and producing my singles with.
AD: So what are the next steps for your career? What can we expect next from Michael I-Zayah?
MI: You can expect to watch me grow, to go through my journey – the good and the bad times. Lord knows I’ve been going through a lot when it comes to my music career, and I’m literally now just getting things back on track. I’m going to be getting my name back out there, doing performances, going to radio stations, talking to the media, magazines, etc. I have a lot going on and God is blessing me so I’m just trying to stay focused.
AD: Where can people go and find some more of your music?
MI: Well, I have some of my older music. People can find it on YouTube or on SoundCloud. I want to show people the type of work that I’ve done in my past compared to now. What people don’t know is that even though I do Hip Hop, I’m transitioning more over to R&B. I feel like I have a lot more to offer on that side. It’s not that I can’t make music with my hip hop, but a lot of people haven’t seen me do R&B and I want to show people that side of me.
AD: So when you say Hip Hop do you mean working with rappers or doing more club tracks?
MI: I’m just referring to when I did some rap in the past.
AD: Okay, yes. I remember that when you first started you were rapping. Okay, Michael, what have you learned about the music industry so far since being in it?
MI: Wow (laughing). What I’ve learned – what I’ve learned is that there are pros and cons to the music industry. People have to realize that there is a difference between the Music Industry and the Music Business. The Music Industry can be very cut throat. A lot of people can have ulterior motives to get what they want out of you and as soon as they’re done, they don’t want to deal with you anymore. A lot of people only care about themselves, and if it’s not all about them then they don’t care. For me personally, I’d rather just stay in my lane and mind my business and just worry about me. I feel like whoever I have a genuine connection to in the business and the industry, then it’s cool, and that’ll be a blessing. All you have is you at the end of the day.
AD: So the last question is how can the readers and listeners purchase “New Panties” if they want a copy of the track for their collection? And in terms of social media, how can they connect with you? You’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Are you on any other Social Media?
MI: They can download my track on iTunes, Amazon or Google Play. In terms of Social Media, I have all of those. I have Snapchat, Tumblr, YouTube, Linkedin – I have a whole bunch of social media sites where people can reach out and find me.
AD: Okay, I’m not as familiar with Sound Cloud. Is that something people can just go to and type your name in, and your music will come up?
MI: Yes, I’m on SoundCloud too. Oh by the way, I want to say that I was in BET’s The Quad and Oprah’s Greenleaf both as a casting extra.
AD: Okay that’s all I’ve got. Thank you for talking about your new single and your budding career. As you pump out more material, perhaps we can do some future update pieces.
MI: Okay, cool.
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you want to hear more of Michael I-Zayah’s music, look him up as described above. If you liked this interview, please share it and or leave a comment. Interested in making like Michael I-Zayah and taking off in the music industry yourself? Well, it’s time to start gaining some exposure. Upload your music onto Soundcloud and get involved with real soundcloud promotion. This can help to increase the plays on your tracks and get the ball rolling towards recognition and success!
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