Izzy Bizu covers ”Sweat” for H&M
Izzy Bizu went from an open-mic night to supporting Sam Smith in a few short months, and this summer she stars in an H&M campaign with a special cover of a classic summer jam.
The sun, the heat, the excitement… summer is like no other season when it comes to good times and memories in the making; a feeling captured by H&M this season with rising soul star Izzy Bizu. With her distinctive phrasing and honeyed voice, the British singer and songwriter takes on the iconic summer jam Sweat by Inner Circle with the perfect amount of cheer and cheek.
She’s a mesmerising presence, as people who’ve seen her electric live gigs can attest, so it’s surprising to learn she used to be quite shy about singing in public. And it wasn’t until she entered an open-mic competition in London three years ago – and won – that a singing career took flight. Before that, Izzy had intended to just be a songwriter, behind the scenes. She released the EP Coolbeanz and soon, Sam Smith asked her to support him on tour. Since then, she’s also toured with Rudimental and Foxes, and played Glastonbury twice.
We recently caught up with the feisty and utterly delightful songstress to talk about the special cover of Sweat and the accompanying video (watch it above!), but also about love, life and what we can expect from her debut album, out later this year.
HOW DID YOU PUT YOUR PERSONAL SPIN ON THE CLASSIC INNER CIRCLE SONG?
”We just stripped it down to acoustic and then imagined I was singing about a cute guy at a bonfire [laughs].”
CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN VIDEO SHOOT?
”The video was shot in Mexico. We were in this really quirky resort and filmed by the beach. The first day we got there, it was raining and there was a little drama, but then it worked out fine. It was very chilled out and really natural. Which was nice, because it was meant to have that summer vibe.”
YOU’RE OFTEN DESCRIBED AS JAZZ-SOUL, BUT YOUR MUSICAL INTERESTS ALSO RANGE FROM ROCK TO RAVE. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?
”My music is soul with the tiniest bit of jazz, plus a bit of indie with a pop touch, so it’s a bit of a mix. But I think it’s up to people’s interpretation. Genres can be really confusing and it can put people in boxes unnecessarily.”
EMOTIONALLY, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC?
”It’s quite melancholic. It’s kind of like when you look at someone and smile, and ask if they’re okay. They’re like, ‘Yah’, but you can see maybe they’re not. So it’s that kind of vibe… because there are two sides to me, just like there are two sides to anybody.”
I imagined I was singing about a cute guy at a bonfire.
YOU WRITE YOUR OWN LYRICS. DID WRITING ALWAYS COME NATURALLY TO YOU?
”Yah, I think so. When I was younger, I moved schools a lot and it brought out this thing in me where I felt a bit lonely. The first couple of days [at a new school] I was like, ‘Where do I put myself?’, so I used to write poems about it. Gradually, I would make friends, but then I’d move schools again. It was always like that. I really think the writing helped me have this cool relationship with myself so that was sort of how it started.”
YOU NEVER REALLY INTENDED TO BE A SINGER, RIGHT? YOU WERE JUST GOING TO WRITE THE SONGS.
”Yah, I didn’t think I was good enough because there are so many people who are so amazing. I thought the competition was so high so if I just wrote, I didn’t have to be in the limelight and could just get on with it. It might not be an easier option, but a more chilled option.”
BUT IT WORKED OUT!
”It was a happy accident, but it has worked out. It took a lot of practice, but yah!”
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOUR DEBUT ALBUM?
”More guitar, piano, saxophone and strings… It’s groovy music, you can hear certain inflections or genres and be like, ‘Whaaat?’ [laughs]. The first half of the album is about being crazy optimistic and being in a world where nothing can go wrong – you’re totally oblivious to everything…. And then it’s talking about someone I love, about a relationship that’s going to unravel into something and you turn out to be right. When you’re like oh my god, I’ve actually turned all my fears into reality. I’m really excited and obviously a little scared about the album. But at the end of the day, the whole point of writing it was to understand what was going on, and I hope people will understand, too.”
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS?
”I actually don’t know where I’m going to be in five years. Improvising is beautiful. Improvising is everything. Otherwise you’re not really living.”
MYSELF IN 5 WORDS: ”Scatty, a bit chaotic, empathetic, quite stubborn, but I like a good laugh.”