BAZZI | 'Soul Searching' For Himself & His Fans

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Z ZEGNA jacket and sweater.

Z ZEGNA jacket and sweater.

Bazzi is in his own lane, crushing streaming numbers and topping charts left and right. In barely two years, the Canton, Michigan native has skyrocketed to one of the biggest stars in pop, unleashing a whole new sound full of melody and bass-heavy production. It was in October of 2017 when he unleashed “Mine,” which went on to become a viral meme thanks to a Snapchat filter. The hit single peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 while topping the CHR/Top 40 radio charts at #1.

In this day in age, sometimes we see a disconnect in social media numbers and streaming numbers, but Bazzi delivers on all fronts. With 1.2 followers on Instagram and 2.1 subscribers on Youtube, it’s almost as if each release is guaranteed for success — which has everything to do with his own ear for good music. “Beautiful” is my personal favorite, a love anthem which later received an explosive remix from Camila Cabello (whom he toured with). The original can be found on his debut album Cosmic, which didn’t take long to receive RIAA Platinum certification.

Now in 2019 and releasing even more hits under his belt — “Paradise”, “Focus” featuring 21 Savage, “I.F.L.Y.” — the 21-year-old returns with his new mixtape called Soul Searching, exactly what the title states. Spearheaded by the title track’s visual, Bazzi brings comfort us by reminding us we’re all just trying to figure it out. Flaunt Mag caught up with Bazzi in Los Angeles to chat about the new project, his Coachella debut, and working with Tyga.

For those who don’t know, who is Bazzi?

Bazzi is someone who’s been in love with music his whole life. Someone who’s always loved to entertain and been able to dictate a vibe in a room. Bring positivity and light into an environment, and I still try to do the same thing today. 

 “Mine” was a huge moment for you. How has your sound evolved since?

Since then, I’ve just matured a lot. Back then, I was just making music to make music. But now I have a really specific direction and specific identity in my sound. 

What is that specific direction and identity?

It’s tough to put a finger on it. It’s something kind of miscellaneous, something that makes a lot of sense in my brain and doesn’t make much sense out loud. It’s tough to pinpoint.

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SALVATORE FERRAGAMO coat pants and shoes, ZADIG & VOLTAIRE turtleneck, CARTIER bracelet and ring, and BVLGARI ring,

Were you slightly able to convey that in Soul Searching?

Yeah, Soul Searching is definitely a step in that direction of me knowing things I’d say, things I’d talk about, sounds and specific things I do sonically. It’s a level of maturity too to not just make a song to make a song, but to talk about things that are really pressing. Really real emotions and thoughts I’m having. 

 Was it hard for you to open up?

I don’t necessarily say it was hard, It felt really natural to do. Music has always been a way of therapy for me too so over the last year, things I’ve seen and things I’ve experienced, I’ve realized and learned a lot about myself. The album was like an exhale, I get to talk about that stuff.

How’s the fan reception been?

Man, it’s been unbelievable. I honestly didn’t know what to expect just because it’s different than Cosmic. I tried a lot of new things on the project too, I was rapping a lot more. I didn’t know what to necessarily expect from fans but the fact that people have received it how they have has been super super humbling. It’s been beautiful. 

What made you want to rap? Or have you always rapped?

I’ve always rapped. Once again, it feels natural. I never have a conscious thought before I make music, like “I’m gonna try this” or “I’m gonna try that.” I’m in the studio and it just happens. I just roll with it.

Talk about working with Tyga on Legendary.

Oh yeah, he did FaceTime me at the Lakers game. He’s like, “Yo, I got this record I want you to jump on.” I’ve known him for a minute, he’s actually such a cool guy. He reached out to me. We were at the same restaurant and he came up to me, before I blew up or anything so he’s a real one. I put a song called “Why” out. He’s like, “Yo. is this you!?” He showed me his phone. I was like “Yeah.” He’s like, “This shit is tight bro, you got it.” That’s dope because I had been a fan of him for awhile. We stayed homies over the years. He sent me that record and was like, “Let’s crush it,” and we did it.

The closing track is a big look!

Yeah for sure. It was very cool. It’s a good record.

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SALVATORE FERRAGAMO top, CARTIER bracelet and ring, and BVLGARI ring,

 “Paradise” is at over 10M views on Youtube in just a few months. What’s it like seeing those numbers skyrocket with each release?

It’s crazy, you know. You work so hard and invest so much of yourself into this so for people to receive it and understand it and love it as much as you do, it feels really cool. 

What is ideal “Paradise” to you?

I’d say I could have had paradise today but Jared [manager] books me all this stuff. [chuckles] I like chilling man, I’m a chill guy. I started my paradise today. I woke up, worked out, had a healthy meal, drank a coffee. Derailed today but it’s all good. [laughs] Nah, I just like chilling. I’m a simple guy. Not anything specific, just a free day to be free and do whatever I want.

What do you do on your day off?

Definitely a little day drinking. Some day drinking with some wine by the pool. A little basketball, a little TV, maybe a movie. A good nap, just drive around and get lost.

Best memory from the “Paradise” shoot?

Man that video shoot was actually really cool because we were in Mexico City. Just being with the whole crew that night and that whole day, being in Mexico City shooting a music video. It was the first song I was coming back to so it was special. It was a really exciting day. 

Who or what inspired “I.F.L.Y.”?

“I.F.L.Y.” was obviously inspired by a person, but it was more of a feeling I was trying to convey. Because my favorite part of the job is getting to soundtrack people’s memories. I knew summer was coming around so I wanted to make that perfect summer song that felt like summer and made people want to put their windows down. 

Do you feel pressure to top the last hit?

Nah I don’t feel pressure just because music is something I love to do. It’s nothing I’m trying to do for success or accolades. I’m doing it because I like to make music. I like how my music sounds, I like listening to it. I think I’ve created a cool collective group of people who like listening to it too, so no pressure. Only pressure to be myself.

Talk about linking with 21 Savage on “Focus.”

“Focus” is a record we made back at the start of last summer. It just felt perfect for 21. Him and his manager {Kei] reached out and said they were fans. Obviously, we were massive fans too. They did their thing on it. 

How does it feel to have people approach you and recognize your talent?

It’s really cool! It’s special, especially from people you respect as well. 

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SALVATORE FERRAGAMO top, CARTIER bracelet and ring, and BVLGARI ring,

Who are your favorite artists?

Man, a lot of my favorite artists don’t make music anymore. Prince is definitely one of my favorite artists. I have a ton of respect for Drake, it’s really hard not to. He’s been going so consistent, so much quality over his entire career. A lot of respect for Drake. Really was inspired by Guns N’ Roses growing up, just how they were revolutionaries of their time. They were rockstars.

Are you listening to pop or hip-hop on your day off?

A little mix of both.

Talk about having 6lack on the album.

6lack’s the homie. I’ve been a fan of him for awhile, how he’s just talked on things and his lyrical ability. I love his tone and his vocals. I had this record on the project and reached out for him to jump on it, he’s like “hell yeah.” We’ve actually just became friends over the last week or so, just talking and stuff. Super, super cool guy. Great convos. 

Were y’all in the studio for that one?

Nah I wasn’t in the studio. We’re gonna get in soon.

What made you call it a mixtape over another album?

Historically, a mixtape is more storytelling. Albums can come a little bit more meticulous on the marketing end. I feel like albums are more approached as products while mixtapes are approached as “it does what it does because it’s telling a story.” That’s what I wanted to do with Soul Searching. It wasn’t necessarily about a specific lead single or anything like that, it’s just a body of work all kind of telling my truth. 

I know artists tend to have their own favorites that aren’t singles, what records mean the most to you?

“Conversations with Myself” on the project was really special for me because it was just me talking to myself. It was a really interesting record to write. Literally a conversation with myself, it can be summed up as having a therapy session with yourself.

Talk about your Coachella debut.

Coachella was sick. I wanted to do the festival a lot of my life, and I snuck into it previously. Just jumped the fence and ran through. A day later, my friend bought me pass because I didn’t have any money. 

We’ve definitely snuck in back in the day.

Yeah, it’s a must. [chuckles] Then the last time I went, I said I wasn’t gonna go until I played it. Fast forward two years, we did it.

Z ZEGNA jacket and sweater.

Z ZEGNA jacket and sweater.

Were you nervous?

Actually yeah Weekend 1, I was pretty nervous which is pretty unusual because I don’t get nervous too often. It was just crazy. It’s never the people because the people I’m used to and I like that part. More of just damn, you were in that crowd and you dreamed of this. It was such a specific dream I had, to be on the other end of it was crazy. 

What was the best moment on stage?

I would say Weekend 2. Weekend 2 was definitely the better moment because I had just finished Weekend 1. I felt a lot less under pressure to just go out there and have fun. 

What’s your favorite song to perform?

I really like performing “3:15”. All of my fans really love that record. It’s kind of a sleeper hit off the project so it’s always fun to break that one out. 

Talk about working with Camila on “Beautiful”. 

It was really cool. We toured together in April and just became friends. She brought such a cool energy to “Beautiful,”  it was awesome. 

Biggest lesson you learned from being on tour with her?

I mean, it was the first time I had ever performed so just being in front of people was really helpful. Her fans are super cool and real forgiving to let me kind of learn in front of them. 

Did you mess up at all?

Yeah, definitely messed up on that tour.

You also went EDM linking with Netsky & Lil Wayne. How did that come about?

I wrote a record awhile ago and Netsky and his people reached out. They liked the recorded a lot and put Wayne on it. 

What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?

I just want to continue being myself. I want to continue making art that I’m proud of and feel integrity creating, and nothing really outside of that. Keep making great music that expresses me well. 

Can you talk about the pet wolf that you have?

I don’t actually have a pet wolf. I wish I had a wolf, that would be cool. 

Talk about your recording process. Do you write your lyrics down or on your phone?

I write them on my phone but sometimes I just freestyle them. 

3 things you need in the studio?

Coffee, a good synth, and Kevin. He’s my recording partner, I make all my music with him. 

How was performing on James Corden?

Sick! It was really good. It was of my favorite TV set-ups so far. It was cool.

How would describe your fashion sense?

I would describe my fashion sense just how I make my music, I just wear what feels good. I like what I like and don’t try to go for a certain aesthetic. I just gravitate towards things that are cool. 

What does your hand tat say?

It says “I will love you forever my dear,” for when I get married. Then “what’s mine is yours.”

Marriage is the goal?

Eventually for sure.

Photographed by: David Lekach.

Styled by Luca Kingston.

Grooming: Nathaniel Dezan using Armani Beauty at Opus Beauty.

Produced by: BJ Panda Bear.