A LIVE SESSION WITH IZZY BIZU
With an aching voice and electrifying presence, Izzy Bizu's live performance of "Someone That Loves You" will leave you awestruck and begging for more.
Izzy Bizu is early. She steps into the East London loft carrying clothes and instruments, and occasionally breaks out in song, sharing small snippets of what we're about to experience. She's had a quiet year, mostly spent at home in London, and more often than not by herself.
"It's been really grounding, good and insightful," she says about taking a little break from touring and always having people around. "It's much easier to have your head in the clouds, but I felt it became quite one-dimensional to always spend time around other people."
Although she enjoys solitude, she's ecstatic to see old friends again, to have a band, and most of all to finally share what she's been working on for so long. Her new EP – Glitter – is being released in October.
She claims to be nervous about performing again, but it's impossible to detect as she smiles and chats to everyone she encounters as the club is being prepared for her show. The 24-year-old singer-songwriter has over 100,000,000 streams on Spotify, has supported some of the world's biggest artists on tour, and been shortlisted for a Brit Critic's Choice Award. To say she's a star on the rise is an understatement.
Dressed in a red floral blouse, a black button-up skirt, mismatched tennis socks and white sneakers, she takes the stage to perform an exclusive version of her hit song Someone That Loves You.
WHAT'S THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG?
"I liked a guy who had a girlfriend and I thought I was in love with him. In hindsight I don't think it was love and it only lasted for a few weeks. But I was on a plane back to London during one of those weeks when the chorus came to me, so I penned it down but kind of forgot all about it once the plane had landed."
"Later, I messaged [electronic duo] Honne, saying I wanted to work with them, and we met. As we were writing songs together, I flipped through my notebook and found the penned-down lyrics and we wrote it together on that day."
Growing up, my mom always played Nat King Cole and Marvin Gaye at home, so I've obviously been inspired by them.
WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATIONS?
"It's a pretty wide range – from jazz musicians to rappers. Growing up, my mom always played Nat King Cole and Marvin Gaye at home, so I've obviously been inspired by them, but I've always loved Amy Winehouse as well. Recently, GoldLink has had a lot of impact on me and listening to him has made me less afraid to try out new rhythms, which you'll hear on the new songs."
THE QUEEN OF SOUL, ARETHA FRANKLIN, RECENTLY PASSED AWAY. WHAT HAS SHE MEANT TO YOU?
"Aretha Franklin literally set the tone for everyone else. She's just a beautiful person with an incredible voice and watching live clips of her on YouTube is amazing. It's sad that she's gone, but she really lived a full life."
WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST CAREER MOMENT SO FAR?
"I've had a few of those moments. One was when I played at The Great Escape festival, because me and my ex-boyfriend, who was in the band then, had broken up on the same day. Playing together that night was a whole different experience – we'd never played like we did at that show – and it felt like we were both venting through the music, which was a big moment for me moving forward."
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF ONE YEAR FROM NOW?
"I wish I could tell you that. I'm probably going to be in New York promoting the EP. I'd like to get out of my comfort zone in London, I do want to freshen things up."
You'll always find me wearing tennis socks, sneakers and something baggy.
WHAT SONG – OUT OF ALL SONGS EVER MADE – DO YOU MOST WISH YOU HAD MADE YOURSELF?
"I'm going to say In My Feelings by Drake. I can't stop singing it and to be honest, most of his songs are amazing. I don't know where he gets his inspiration from. He's one of the best songwriters out there."
HAVE YOU MET HIM?
"Almost! When the World Cup was going on, my friend's mom was hosting a viewing in a private movie theater and I was on my way there but changed my plans at the last minute. The next day my friend messaged me a photo of him and Drake from the theater... I hope I'll get another chance someday."
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF WITH THREE WORDS?
"Messy, laughing a lot and really temperamental."
AND YOUR STYLE IN THREE WORDS?
"Innovative, indecisive and spontaneous. You'll always find me wearing tennis socks, sneakers and something baggy."
WHAT'S THE WEIRDEST PIECE OF CLOTHING IN YOUR WARDROBE?
"It's a skirt I got in Canada. It has peacock feathers on it and when I got it, I thought 'today I'm going to look like Shakira.' I've still never worn it."
Press play to watch Izzy Bizu's live session of "Someone That Loves You". The H&M >< Music collection fronted by Izzy Bizu is available in stores and online now.
LIVES IN: London
DISCOVERED: At an open mic night in 2013
IZZY'S TOP 3 SONGS OF ALL TIME
Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing
SZA – Love Galore
Amy Winehouse – F**k Me Pumps
… CITY: "Sometimes it's New York and sometimes it's Paris. My mom will kill me if I don't say Addis Ababa, but I prefer the Ethiopian countryside to the big cities there."
…FOOD: "Ethiopian food."
… FILM: "Sister Act. I've watched it at least 40 times!"
… BOOK: "Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami."
… BEAUTY PRODUCT: "Coconut Oil."
PRODUCTION Bell & Light
DIRECTOR Kevin Castanheira
DOP Oliver Ford
EDITOR Ted Malmros
COLORIST Annika Pehrson