Following the success of his 2016 debut album, Obsidian, singer-songwriter is back in the studio recording his second album for release in 2019. It has been a whirlwind few years for the Molokaʻi-born artist, who has traveled to NYC, Australia and New Zealand sharing his powerful music with a global audience. He made an unforgettable debut amongst industry veterans at the 2017 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards with two nominations and a stellar performance that had the audience in a tangible hush. In 2018 he took home the coveted Song of the Year honor as a co-writer of Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winning female vocalist of the year winner Kimie Miner’s celebrated song “Bamboo,” showcasing his songwriting prowess. 2018 has truly been a year of transformation for Izik as he shares his journey towards personal and professional evolution as he makes strides towards a new album in 2019 and what is sure to be his most vibrant music yet.
In 2016 debuted your first album, Obsidian. What kind of music would you describe it as and how did you come up with its title?
I would describe my music as being alternative R&B. My music blends pop, R&B, and electronic. Obsidian is a type of igneous rock. I love collecting gemstones for their metaphysical properties. I believe that each stone has a different vibration that can alternate your space and environment. I purposed my album to act as an Obsidian stone. I wanted the album to alter the listener’s environment by transmuting negative energy into positive energy, much like an Obsidian stone would do.
You have become a prominent fixture on the local music scene, performing at various venues throughout O’ahu. What is it like being a professional musician in the rapidly changing music industry?
To be honest, I’m never really aware of my current status as a musician. To be considered a professional musician is taking some time to get used to. I was a waiter for 10 years of my life so I still feel like I’m a waiter who does the “music thing” on the side. I think that being a part of the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award ceremony in 2017 has helped me understand my place in the music industry here in Hawaiʻi. I’ve gotten to travel and meet so many amazing musicians that I’ve looked up to my whole life. Being a musician has really opened up a lot of doors of opportunities to do more than just music. I’ve grown so much as an artist.
What have you learned about the music industry and how to continuously evolve in it?
So far I’ve learned that the most important thing is to stay focused on your own expression of art AND to genuinely support your fellow artists. As a musician there are times when things can get hard. In those times we have to remain humble and optimistic; otherwise we can become complacent and opportunistic.
How do you define success as an artist?
Success to me means that you’re flourishing and functioning in daily life by creating tangible artwork for other people to experience. Success also means being deeply connected to the work you’re doing and not getting locked into commitments that you don’t want or like.
What are some of the most challenging aspects about being an artist in this day and age?
The two most challenging aspects about being an artist are the same two aspects I find challenging about being a human: Money & Time.
Money: You have to pay to play. Creating can be very expensive which is why it’s so important to support an artist that you believe in. When I believe in an artist it is because they feed my soul and save me, so I gladly support them. It is a mutual exchange, lucrative to both the artist and the consumer. My philosophy is that money is an illusion. It comes and goes and is never really there. So, I choose to share it in ways I find fulfilling.
Time: You have to work to make money so that you can create but, sometimes you work so much that you don’t make time for your art. You have to make time to educate, to process what you’ve learned, and then you must make time to create. Learning to make time for my art has been a very challenging aspect.
in 2017 You were nominated for and performed at the 2017 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. What was that experience like for you?
It was such a beautiful experience. Being on stage and performing in front of so many legends felt like a dream. The best part about it was that I got to do it with some of my best friends.
Congratulations on the incredible recognition you have received at the Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards (you were nominated in 2017 and won an award as a co-writer for Song of the Year in 2018). How does it feel to stand amongst artists you have looked up to and be seen as a peer in the industry?
Winning with Kimie was a special moment for me. I’ve been a fan of hers since her MySpace days so to win my first award as a songwriter with a songwriter I’ve admired is a moment I will always be grateful for. To be in the Hawaiʻi music industry feels a bit weird. I feel like that part of my life isn’t real because of how long I’ve dreamt about it. It actually feels like a departure from my reality because it literally is a dream manifested. I’m just lucid dreaming…eating edibles and getting phone calls from Teresa Bright.
What were some of your favorite memories from the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards?
In 2017 shared a beautiful moment with Teresa Bright that night. I used to work at a restaurant in Koʻolina that Teresa Bright sings at. The restaurant was actually the first time I heard her sing live. I literally cried when I realized that she was going to be the entertainment for the restaurant. I’ve listened to Teresa since I was a child in Molokaʻi. Through the years I got to introduce my family to Teresa. She even met my grandmother who passed away in 2013.
On the night of the Hōkū awards, I was walking from my table to go outside. They were still announcing the preliminary awards. As I was walking towards the door, I saw Teresa stand up and walk towards me. I hadn’t seen her since I left the restaurant in 2014. I was so happy to see her but when she told me that the only reason she came to the show was to see me, I couldn’t hold back tears. I started crying and as my personal hero hugged me she told me how proud my grandma was of me. It was such a simple yet strong and beautiful moment. It energized me and made me realize the power we have as humans to positively affect one another.
What does it mean to you to live authentically?
My grandma always told me not to worry about what people think; especially when they don’t pay your bills. I think to live authentically is pretty self explanatory. Do what makes you happy and if people don’t like it, they can get lost. lol. (My grandma passed on her sass and wit to me.)
You traveled to Australia with FLUX Magazine and NYC with HTA to perform at the New York Botanical Gardens. What was it like performing your music outside of Hawai'i both nationally and internationally?
Being able to perform outside of Hawai’i can be really scary. When I went to New York, I had all these preconceived notions about how people there would receive me based on the reputation that precedes New Yorkers. Some of my favorite artists come from New York and Australia. Each time I finished performing it was a surprise and a relief that they liked me.
'Ōiwi Tv recently featured you in their Mele Ma Ka Lihiwai concert series including wonderful interview with Amy Kalili. Tell us about that experience!
Again. Another crazy dream that has now become a reality. Hawaiian music is something I grew up listening to and not appreciating in my youth. As a Hawaiian, self proclaimed Alternative R&B artist, I was honestly very excited to share my music on Mele Ma Ka Lihiwai. This moment that I was able to share with Amy was one of those reminders that whatever it is that I’m doing, I’m on the right path. In times of self doubt, I’m able to look back on this and use it to move through it.
You have been very open about your fitness journey in 2018 and look phenomenal! What has that process been like for you transforming your mind and body and has it affected you artistically?
In the beginning, it was really difficult to get to the gym and stay motivated. I was 320lbs in January of 2018. I knew I needed to make a change. I’ve battled with depression since I was a teenager. I don’t really talk about this too often. The thing about depression for me is that it’s not something that I can overcome and then it just leaves. It’s not a building you can just knock down and build over. It’s more like a common cold. You feel great mostly…sometimes you can go half the year and not feel it. But when it hits you, you really have to battle through it and wait for it to leave you again. The only thing getting you through it is that voice in your head. Well, the voice in my head wasn’t being very nice.
I was drinking a lot from 2015-2017 and emotionally eating. I was trying to fill a huge void inside of me. When I started working out this year, I noticed that the voice in my head started to change. Lifting weights, doing cardio, waking up in the morning… you can’t sustain any of that while being negative. When you’re working through heavy sets, you have to tell yourself you can do it. When you’re on the treadmill and have to get through the last five minutes you have to tell yourself you’re almost there and that you can do it. When it’s 6am and you know you have to sit in traffic for an hour to meet your trainer at the gym, you have to remind yourself that you’re doing it because of your responsibility as an artist to share the light that is channeled through your physical body…and you can do it. Honestly, I haven’t been able to create as much as I would like but that was something I understood going into 2018. I wanted to transform and I was ok knowing that my art and music needed to take a backseat.
As a proud local boy weʻve gotta ask a few Pikake questions before you go! What are your top 3 Pikake Picks, ie local businesses, restaurants or activities you highly recommend?
Barrio Vintage for clothes. Ka Waiwai Collective is a place I like to go to get work done during the day and for ‘awa and live music at night. And Thai Lao for food. I love them so much. I want to have my next album release party there.
Where do you go for your ideal post-performance meal?
It’s usually zippys, sorabol, or Mac24-7. Ideally it would be Thai Lao but they’re not open late lol.
What is your go-to shave ice order?
So, don’t hate me. I don’t like shave ice. And when I do go to get it, I’m basic and just get strawberry or Passion Orange. I hate vanilla and watermelon. Yuck. haha
where can we find you and what is the best way for fans to conNECT with you?
My schedule is posted on my website (www.izikmuzik.com) Also, I would love for you to come support me at my next show on December 5th at the Hawaii Convention Center!
Lastly, What can we expect from your next album in 2019?
Um. Songs? Lol. My next album is titled Bougainvillea. I want this collection of songs to be colorful and I want them to grow on people like the vines of Bougainvillea. I identify with this vine so much because of how you have to treat it in order for it to have more color. You can’t smother it with love, and basically the closer to death you bring it, the more color it shows. So in summation the color of death is magenta fuchsia. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.