We caught up with Iyaz at the K West Hotel to pick his brain about his new single, his passion for motorbikes and why it's important to stay true to your roots. Looking jetlagged, and hiding behind fashionable red sunglasses he was quiet but polite. As his manager Shervaun commented downstairs in the bar, promotion is one of the most taxing and repetitive parts of the job. He went as far as to say that if you were to turn up and take a photo with Iyaz then copy his answers from another interview, you would get much the same effect as interviewing him anew.
Whilst a lot of answers felt rehearsed and predictable, when Iyaz spoke about his family, he seemed most at ease and willing to be expansive. He talked warmly of his younger sister and mother, citing them as inspirational figures in his life. Back with a new single, 'Pyramid', collaborating with Charice, Iyaz is a young man with a number one single already under his belt and everything to play for. But is he here for the long haul or is he just another flash in the pan? DMG probed further to try and unearth more details about a high profile man with his cards to his chest.
How has growing up in a musical family affected your music?
Growing up in a musical family, it kind of helped me out, because when it's time to record I actually know exactly what I want to hear, what I want my stuff to sound like. I grew up in a choir too. My mom sings, my day sings, everybody sings so it definitely helps me in the recording process.
Is it true that you're a perfectionist when it comes to music?
Definitely. I believe if you're not going to do it right then don't do it at all. So everything I do, whether it's music, it could be drawing, it could be the way I dress, if you're not going to do it right then don't do it at all.
What was it like working with Charice?
Charice is phenomenal you know. She's definitely a nice person. She's like my little sister. She's cool to work with, she's fun and she definitely can sing.
What's the new single 'Pyramid' about?
'Pyramid' is basically talking about, you have hurricanes, you have tornados, all these things that cause havoc over the earth and the one thing that always stands strong, that nothing ever happens to is a pyramid. So we're basically saying that we want our love to be like a pyramid.
How did it feel to have such a huge hit with 'Replay'?
It feels great, it lets me know that I have a huge fan base, not only in the US, but definitely over here in Europe, and in Asia, all over the world right now. So I definitely feel good.
You're still in your early 20s, does all the attention ever get overwhelming for you?
Umm, not really. I'm kind of used to the attention right now. At first it was kind of crazy you know. I couldn't go to the mall, I couldn't do stuff I used to be able to do. But, you kind of get used to it after a while and you just learn how to maneuver around it, so it's cool.
What would you be doing if you weren't a musician?
If I weren't a musician, I'd be probably teaching music, because I love music. I would be involved in music regardless. I would be teaching music maybe, instead of me singing music.
Is that something that you think you might get into one day if you ever stop performing?
Not me per say, but I probably might open a school that would do it. I can't see me just sitting down teaching music, I can't do it. But, I would just open a school and have like teachers teaching how to do stuff like that you know? Like maybe it might be like vocal classes or learning to play certain instruments or whatever the case may be.
Why do you think that music is important for young people?
I don't think it's just important for young people, I think it's important for everybody. Because you could be going through the baddest situation and then you put just the right song on and it takes you through that tough time you know. So definitely, music can be there to cope, music can be there to help you through anything. So music is definitely good.
Do you feel that you owe a lot of your initial discovery to your relationship with Sean Kingston?
Definitely, you know Sean was the one who found me on MySpace, he's the one that opened the doors and everything has just been uphill from there.
When you're travelling all around the world, do you ever really miss home?
I always miss home. I miss home right now you know. But that's the price I pay for the thing that I do. I love making music, I mean I know that I'm always away from my family, friends and loved ones but I'm doing what I love to do. Which is make music, travel the world. London, Asia, Dubai, I'm all over the place so I'm willing to pay that price right now. For the time being.
Where really feels like home for you, is it Fort Lauderdale or is it the Virgin Islands?
Definitely the Virgin Islands. But the second place would be Fort Lauderdale.
Do your Caribbean roots have a big influence on the style of your music?
Definitely they do, because they're the ones that made island pop, island pop. Because island pop is a mixture of reggae, R&B, soca, calypso, all that good island, feel good stuff in one. So, definitely the Bob Marleys, and the soca music and all that played a major part in my craft.
Do you think it's important to stay in touch with the roots of where your music comes from?
I think it's definitely important to stay, or else you're gonna start straying from who you are you know? So that's the thing that made me, that's my base, that's my roots, that's my culture. So hopefully, if I stay grounded and I stay focused to that, everything should be good.
Why are so many of your lyrics focused on relationships?
Because, a relationship is something that everybody can relate to. Not everybody can relate to spending money, not everybody can relate to fancy cars, but everybody can relate to love, I don't care who you are. It could be you like somebody, it could be you like like or love somebody, understand? It doesn't matter. That's one thing everybody can relate to. So, like I said, I'm not making music for myself, I'm making music for the fans, so that's one thing I know my fans can relate to.
You are portrayed as being fairly clean cut, do you think it's dangerous for the music industry to be pushing the gangsta stereotype?
I don't think so because at the end of the day, there are parents that are in these houses too, so the music and the image that the artists portray is for their demographic, their age group you know. It's on the parents to step in and say hey you shouldn't be looking at this or you shouldn't be looking at that. They're just expressing their selves how they know how to do it. So if that's the way that you grew up, with the baggy this and the baggy that and the gangsta this, that's cool, understand? Because that's what you know, that's how you express yourself, just like me. I just choose not to have that gangsta image, because that's not how I grew up. It's different strokes for different folks you know.
But, do you think that pushing the gangsta image reinforces a negative stereotype of young black American men and encourages the pigeonholing and discrimination that already occurs from the police etc.?
I mean, they're going to be put there regardless of what they do and what they wear so I mean it all goes back to what I said before. That's just their way of expressing themselves you know. You can't expect to just change somebody from what they know. If that's what he knew, if that's what he grew up doing that's what he's going to continue to do you know? You can't just put a cat in a box with dogs and expect him to bark, it's never going to happen, he's going to be a cat regardless. Everything takes time you know.
Which one person inspires you most in the world?
My mom. Definitely my mom, you know she's the one that keeps my head on, makes sure that my head doesn't get too big at times. When I'm going through tough times or I might have a little writer's block, I call her up and she helps me out. So definitely my mom.
I read that you're really into motorbikes, what's your ideal bike?
Oh man. I love the GSXR Suzuki 1000, I like all of them. It could be a 600, 750, whatever. But I like the 1000s and 1300s, the higher boosters, I love them. Love!
How did you get into that?
I don't know. I think it was my little sister. She was a rider before me you know so, actually I'd been riding but she is the one that made me want to ride. Because she be doing all of the donuts and the wheelies and burn outs and all that stuff you know and she's younger than me. She's 18 and she's been doing that from 14 you know so definitely, she's the one that got me on this little rebellion track on motorcycles.
So what's coming up next for you?
Up next? I'm wrapping the album up, you know trying to get that out within the next two months. I have an episode of Hannah Montana that I'm on, that's going to be out this month. Ummm, this single with Charice, 'Pyramid', that's doing great over here. New Boys, I'm on the New Boys' new single. You know that track is named 'Break My Bank'. I have a song that myself and Kevin Rudolph are working on, I'm about to put that out too. I'm just staying grounded, staying relevant you know. I love making music and that's what I'm trying to do right now, as opposed to getting my little acting on, although here and there there's a little something.