21 year-old Izzy Bizu is re-shaping the music of 2016, with her refreshing energy and soulful vocals. Having been chosen for the shortlist of BRITs Critics Choice award and BBC Sound of 2016 longlist, there’s no wonder she’s causing a stir in the industry. The Londoner caught most of our attention via playing on BBC Radio 1, through BBC Introducing, and performing in the BBC Live Lounge for BBC 1Xtra last August.
From writing songs in her one-bed flat to supporting Sam Smith on tour, I believe it’s safe to say she’s doing one or two things right. Some of her childhood influences vary from the likes of Amy Whinehouse and Marvin Gaye to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, with her mother indulging her with the sound of Lionel Richie, plus she tells BBC Newsbeat, “I actually used to listen to Craig David and I had a really big crush on Gareth Gates”.
Her need for music expanded when she went to boarding school, and she recalls taking music lessons, and endlessly singing “Killing me Softly”, along with other classics, however due to the expense of boarding school, she returned to London and attended theatre school. It was then, that after a busy open mic night in Camden, she was spotted and her talent was plucked from the rest.
Early pieces such as “Deep Blue Sea” and “White Tiger” remain to be popular tracks within her portfolio, along side newer releases, consisting of the heartwarming ballads “Give Me Love“, and “Mad Behaviour“. It makes me wonder how such beautifully crafted songs can be created, however Izzy speaks of finding influences in nearly everything surrounding her, from nights out with mates, to nature, and with over 1 million hits on “White Tiger”, there’s obviously a reason as to why she’s so popular.
Accompanied by a 6-piece band, this production is not one to be missed! The up-beat pop sound of “White Tiger” is elevated by this band, although acoustic performances on Youtube do the song more than justice. The song is really about “letting go”, and was created with her guitarist Mika. As an on and off project, “White Tiger” grew organically as a piece, and became what it is today.
“Give Me Love”, builds itself upon racing, heavy drum beats, and encapsulates us immediately, as it reveals a story of family, longing and comfort. Izzy’s flawless vocals dance over the track, and the song builds quickly into an energetic chorus, before pulling us back down to the strong beat which drives the verses, only for the piece to beg us to get up and dance, and chant “give me love” towards the final powerful climax.
“Diamond” holds a slower and more soulful attribute, as Bizu almost “spills” her effortless vocals, to flow over the bands smooth accompaniment. Mika’s delicate guitar stabs, which are soon followed by shimmering finger picking perfectly complements her relaxed singing, and offers a subtle, yet essential dynamic to the track.
She sings of a longing for someone quite exceptional, as her lyrics “Prince among thieves, you’re a needle in a hay stack”, depict this image of something unique and individually perfect. However, what I love the most, is her ability to retain a beautifully laid-back and care-free attitude and groove throughout the song, creating a comfortingly lethargic mood.
Her debut album titled A Moment Of Madness is due to be released this May, and if it’s any reflection of what she’s already created, it will be awesome. She will be performing at Park Life festival in Manchester, and Wildlife festival in Brighton this summer over June 11 and 12, as well as individual tour dates in Leeds on the 30th of April for ‘Live at Leeds’, London on June 12 at KOKO in Camden, and in Huntington from July 21 to 24 for The Secret Garden Party Festival.
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Words by Will Rowe-Parr