British singer-songwriter Izzy Bizu, who releases her second album next year, shot to fame after her debut album, A Moment of Madness, clocked up over 225 million global streams. It saw her shortlisted for BBC’s Sound of 2016 and the Brit's Critic Choice; and win the BBC Music Introducing Award. And included massive hits Someone that Loves You and White Tiger.
Izzy on her HELLO! Fashion cover shoot
"It was so special for me, because it was a really true song," she says of the latter, which she wrote with her ex-boyfriend when they left college. "We saw the review and were like, 'What!'. We wrote it really casually; it was for a school project. The recognition was amazing as we weren’t expecting anything."
Izzy began writing her own material as a teenager. "When I was home from boarding school, I had the loft room. I used to call my mum up for a mini concert. And she would say, 'I'm not coming upstairs until you finish a song'. She was quite straight with me, very honest. The first song I finished was Fool's Gold, and it was on my first EP."
Her love for music stems from her mum. "She’s the type of girl that will wake up at 6am and start playing Ethiopian songs. It's beautiful and always sounds euphoric, even when it's a sad song – it sounds quite optimistic."
Watch Izzy's latest music video
Izzy posted to her 52.6k Instagram followers about her shock and sadness at the George Floyd killing, and she says she’s pleased to see that Black Lives Matter reactions have created a conversation around race inequalities.
"One reason people get mad at each other is a lack of understanding of the other person's pain or relating to the scrutiny of the other side. It's quite complex, but we have to sit down and listen to one another and it’s not going to be comfortable all of the time, but we need to keep an open mind."
But she has never experienced racism personally. "I just don’t stand for it. I know people that have gone through a lot, but for some reason, am I naive or oblivious? Growing up, I didn’t feel any less or more than anyone. My mum and dad built me this invisible shield where nothing could get to me.
"The important thing is that everybody gets a fair chance from a young age, starting from an education and building confidence. I feel like the new generation are really making an effort, and the older generation too, actually. I think this had to happen. And I’ve never seen it so much in magazines, so I think that’s brilliant."
Although the singer/songwriter who loves performing at festivals was a little sad they didn’t happen in 2020, she takes a philosophical approach to the effect Covid will have on the industry. "I think that people are going to be writing deeper music and a lot of artists are having to record themselves at home, so they’re refining their talents, people that don’t usually produce, might start producing. So maybe their sound is going to change a little bit.
"Also, people are going to start picking up instruments, because they might not be able to rely on session musicians. We’re all pushing ourselves; I didn’t used to engineer my own music, but now I do, and actually quite like it. We’ll feel in control of ourselves a bit more."
The full interview appears in the December/ January issue of Hello! Fashion, which is out now.