Backstage: iZem

  • Music
posted by Aimee Whistler

Meet iZem, French globetrotter and flag bearer for world music. Hailed for his unique blend of African and Latin-inspired productions, iZem’s hybrid sound joins the dots between cutting-edge beat making and post-tropical influences. Inspired by a 7-year musical adventure that spanned the globe, iZem can be seen heating up dance floors everywhere from Berlin to Brazil. With his first major release ‘Hafa’ under his belt, we caught up with the musical nomad between continents as he gets set for the release of his 10-track album.

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What is the significance of your alias iZem, where does it come from?
It’s an acronym for “In Ze (the) Early Morning”. I chose this name because I tend to wake up very early and morning seems to be the most productive time of my day. That’s when I make music. It’s also the Berber (North African language) word for “lion”. It’s a reference to my North African roots, even though I relate more to the sound of the word rather than the reference to a lion!

As a Worldwide DJ, where do you call home?
I would say Western Europe as a whole is home. I grew up in France, Lived in Spain, Ireland and currently in Portugal. I like Southern Europe to live but I get inspired by places like Paris and London that I visit on a regular basis.

The new album Hafa is hotly anticipated, when can we get our hands on a copy?
I will announce the release date in the coming days. The album is done but I’m taking care of the label side by myself too so there’s still lots to do.

What was the inspiration behind this latest musical offering?
A wide range of styles that’s for sure, but mainly Soul, Jazz, contemporary beats and Brazilia. I tried to produce a style of music that would use some of the modern soul production techniques applied to African and South American music.

With such an eclectic sound, what would you say is the most coveted track in your record bag?
It’s really hard to pick one! It has to be a Brazilian one as that’s definitely the most inspirational music I have been in contact with. I would pick a song by Gilberto Gil because he has been a huge influence on me as a musician and as a person. “Palco” because it speaks of the joy of being on stage and has an infectious funk / disco beat.

Any Festival/tour dates lined up for the Southern hemisphere for 2015?
Not yet! Working on it!