words by Liz Watts | Photos by emma watts
Izzy Bizu. Complete and utter babe, and one of the UK’s top acts right now. She’s won a BBC Music Award, racked up millions of plays on Spotify, supported acts on tour such as Sam Smith and Rudimental, and is currently with Coldplay on this leg of their North American tour. The stars aligned perfectly, and Emma and I were able to catch her in Kansas City last week, and oh man was it (and she) an absolute dream!
Tuesday August 15, 2017. 6:45pm.
When the lights went down, I was buzzing with excitement and eager to see what her set would be like. From what little I knew about her (and the simple fact that she was playing on the same stage as COLDPLAY), I expected a blown up and glammed out set, but was pleasantly surprised to see her walk onto the stage in a t-shirt and shorts with just two of her bandmates by her side.
Although a mega-production type set from her would be nothing less than incredible, I was really really happy with this stripped back set which showcased her beautiful soul-y, pop-y, R&B-y voice. People were still filling into the countless arena seats when the music began, but as soon as she opened her mouth, all eyes were on her. Izzy’s voice is pure and powerful, and she had a humble glow surrounding her. I was looking forward to hearing my personal favorite of hers, “Lost Paradise” as well as “White Tiger,” the most popular single off her debut album A Moment of Madness, and "Someone That Loves You," a collaboration between her and fellow Brits, Honne. (Which, side note, we found out is actually pronounced hawn- not hown, or hone...or hawnny.)
When her set was over, I had a permanent smile on my face and was even more pumped to squeeze the heck out of her and confess my major girl crush.
The arena pulsed as AlunaGeorge played and we followed Izzy’s tour manager across the floor, past security, through thick black curtains, and finally, backstage. When we got to Izzy’s room, she greeted us with hugs and a warm smile. I remember sighing a bit with relief after that, glad that our initial interaction felt less like professionals at a business meeting and more like friends reuniting.
First, we headed outside to snap photos and chat. I had fully intended to ask the questions I mentally prepared, but we got caught up talking about life, sharing stores, and just living in the moment- isn’t that how everything should be? For me, there was no rush, no pressure, no worrying about what I said or how I looked. Izzy’s presence was comforting and friendly and we all laughed and spoke to one another as if we had been by her side the whole time.
When we got around to talking about the music industry, I asked her what it was like for her to be in such a male dominated business. “I don’t know, it's really weird. I think I’ve adapted fine because I grew up with just my dad and my brother for ages, so I was surrounded by boys all the time. For me, it didn’t affect me too much. In fact, it’s cool 'cause I can just burp when I want! But, it's also really cool to finally be around women! Like when I saw you two, I was really excited because I’m a chick and it’s nice to relate to girls sometimes. The industry is changing, though. Women are becoming stronger and saying what they want and I think the men in the industry are actually really enjoying that.”
To make things short and sweet, I'll leave it at this: I read once that we shouldn’t use the word "famous" because it takes away the substance of the person. When we were with Izzy, we didn't put that "famous" or "celebrity" label on her because anyone who met her would know she's so much more than that. In a time when female artists are being morphed into what's marketable or cool, I have finally found the perfect example of a confident woman who is real and raw, and whose astounding beauty goes far beyond the surface.