23 Jun Imperial Hustle Exclusive Interview With Arizona Rapper Haze
Imperial Hustle Exclusive Interview With Arizona Rapper Haze
1. Haze, how long have you been doing music?
I started playing the saxophone at the age of 6. By the time I was 8 years old, my sax teacher, Doc Jones of the Next Student Academy of the Arts, had me performing at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix. It was a weird feeling, being on stage at that young of an age, but I grew to love it. Nowadays, it’s by far my favorite thing to do in the world. It’s like a high that you can’t get from any type of drug. I still get nervous before big shows, but once i get up there I feel at home. A paradox of sorts.
2. Haze, what drives you to create music and how many songs do you write a week?
Man… EVERYTHING drives me to create music. I draw inspiration from literally any situation you can imagine, it’s honestly exhausting sometimes haha. But for the sake of this interview I’ll narrow it down to a few things. A big one is just talking with other people. The way my perspective on life clashes with the people around me… it’s almost like the people I meet have been divinely placed in my life for me to talk to and help mold my own perspective. And in turn, I like to think that I inspire everyone around me to a certain extent. Another big one is NATURE. If you need an explanation as to why nature is inspiring, go outside. Now. The last one is any form of hardship. This is probably the most significant driving factor for me. The biggest hardship I’ve ever experienced was at the age of 17 when my mother took her own life away. Truthfully, it was this specific experience that motivated me to turn my hobby of rapping and playing saxophone into an actual career path. When I lost her, it was painful. I still mourn her death to this day, but that’s when I realized that I have a special message. More importantly, I have a special gift to help me deliver that message to other people (like me) who have been faced with hardship. Now, when I perform the song about my mother’s death I almost always have people come up to me afterwards who express their gratitude and thank me for sharing my story. Some people have even come up to me crying because the same thing had happened to one of their parents, and they say the song helped them think about it in a different light. It’s moments like these that help remind me that I’m on the right path, doing what I’m supposed to be doing on this crazy, confusing planet.
As far as how many songs I write a week, it’s pretty sporadic. For example, when I was writing for my EP “Smooth Ascension” I was probably writing about three songs a week. (A lot of the songs I wrote for this EP either didn’t make it onto the final draft or are being saved for the next project) One of the first singles I dropped a few years ago, called “Love Me Twice” was written in about 15 minutes. Other songs that I’ve written, like the first song I released on YouTube, titled “Ordering Disorder (OCD)” took me over two months to complete. When I’m working off of deadlines however, I can sit in my room and knock out as many songs as I need to in a timely manner, but I like to think that creativity can’t be rushed. Sometimes (like now) I’ll go more than a couple weeks without writing one song, just jotting down ideas and building up inspiration from living life. I’ve also been recording/performing all of the songs for my EP so right now I’m more focused on getting out what I’ve already written. But, regardless, I try to write at least a little bit every day. Even if it’s not in lyrical form. I went to UofA for creative writing and got used to the act of writing down my thoughts everyday, so I grew to enjoy it. Nowadays I find it to be something like a meditation. Once I get started on writing for my next project, there’s a good chance my friends and family don’t see me outside of my room for days at a time. You have to take advantage of those “zones” you enter as a creative head. The rest of the world has to wait. It’s pretty insane but I love it.
3. Haze, how does your environment effect the type of music that you create?
Environment plays a key role in what type of music I’m creating. As independent as I like to view myself as an artist, I still feel like I am a product of my own environment. So, as I sit down to write or come up with a melody on my sax, I usually find myself building off of whatever is going on around me. Whether that be the weather outside, the vibes from my peers, or my own internal emotional state, the music that is created is a reflection of that moment in time. You start to recognize the infinite power you have as a creative mind when you realize that you can actually change the environment you are in by simply creating, adapting, and being quintessentially you all of the time.
4. Haze, what part do you play in the Arizona music scene?
Well, right now I’m pretty much just known as that kid who raps and plays the sax. However, I would like to play a major role in this local scene. I think that the rest of the country has a negative view on our state (understandably so) given Sherriff Joe and the way we handle boarder relations. I’d like to help change that perception. Sure, there are a good amount of conservative, bigots who live here, but I think that people like myself greatly outnumber those. I’d like for people to know that we all aren’t like this, in fact there are a lot of Arizonans who are extremely conscious, loving people. I have a very large and diverse group of friends, music lovers and music makers who would all agree with me. The music I make is soulful, even, dare I say it, “spiritual.” Many of us out here in the desert are actually very connected with this land, and have great respect for all of its inhabitants (contrary to what the news may want you to believe). Some of us have feelings! I promise!
5. Haze, what would you call your music and what crowd would you say you fit in?
It’s called Saxy Rap. I like to think that my music can bridge the gap between straight up Hip Hop heads and people who like live instrumentation, bands ect. I even have people who mainly listen to EDM and house music express their unique appreciation for my Hip Hop music. I think it’s pretty cool when like an older person or someone who wouldn’t usually listen to Hip Hop tells me how they actually like what I’m doing. Hip Hop has completely changed my life for the better, so I think it’s only right that I help introduce it to other people who may not have realized it’s profound importance otherwise.
6. Haze, you just dropped a single called “Nothing In Return.” What is the concept behind that record and what is the concept behind the project that this record is on?
Well the EP is called “Smooth Ascension” It is my first project as an artist, and when I thought of the name I just immediately knew it was the right one. It’s a smooth ascension, literally moving up to a higher level…smoothly. I’m pretty low-key at the moment, but I hope this project can help elevate me to a level where I am recognized as an artist, not only in this state but perhaps globally. That’s when the real work starts. Once I get to that position I honestly want to help uplift everyone who listens to my music, because I know what it feels like to be alone and helpless. And Fuck That Shit. Were all here on this planet together, let’s help each other. It’s pretty simple.
The Concept for my single “Nothing In Return” is just about unconditional love, the only thing that matters. I think this was an important place for me to start. Real Love expects Nothing In Return. This is a conclusion I came to at a retreat up in Sedona when I was16 years old and I wrote it down in my rhyme book. This is one of the reasons I knew I had to film the music video up there, It was only right, Sedona is a magical place, the energy vortexes force you to think. It grounds you. We are here for a reason, and that reason is to love. Not for the sake of being loved back or for being acknowledged as someone who show loves, but just for the sake of loving. Nothing else. That is real love.
7. Haze, if you were to do a remix to “Nothing In Return.” What three female rappers would you put on the record and what do you feel they would bring to the song?
I hear Jean Grae’s voice over this beat. She’s just such a soulful, deep thinker, I really think that she would vibe well with this concept. On the opposite side of the spectrum I’d probably just get Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord just cause she’s awesome, sexy, and freaky and I like her a lot. Lastly, even though this female is technically more of an experimental R&B singer I’d have to say SVNAH. This vocalist is the next hottest thing to come out of Arizona. She’s beautiful, intelligent, humble, and not to mention CRAZY TALENTED.
8. Haze, what was the hardest thing in life you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever had to overcome besides losing my mom at such a young age, was living with an extreme case of OCD. I used to perform rituals from the ages of 13-16 before going to sleep at night and if I didn’t I would think that something terrible was going to happen to me or my family. It was pretty intense. I would have to lock the door to my room and touch the knob in incriments of 4 until it felt “right.” The same ritual would have to be done to everything in my room, like my window blinds, my toothbrush, my channel changer, the light switches… ect.. It became very exhausting. My therapist recommended I listen to music at low volumes before bed to relieve the tension, which helped for some time, but ultimately I had to figure out the root of the problem through a hypnosis method. I went in once a week for two months and eventually I was brought back to a vivid memory where the obsession began. When I saw that my environment made me this way, I realized I had power over the disorder and was basically completely healed. Pretty crazy, eh?
9. Haze, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I’ve learned over the years that having expectations can be tricky. It’s good to set goals for yourself, and work hard to put yourself in the right positions in order to improve and succeed. But I truthfully don’t like to have too many specific expectations for the future. I feel like expectations tend to let you down in the end. All I’m doing is waking up everyday trying to be better than I was the last. I think if I keep opening myself up to opportunities; like performing live as much as I can, and promoting myself in the best way possible, things will work out for the better. All I know for sure is that in 5 years, I will definitely still be creating music. If that music is providing a roof over my head and food on the table that would be a dream come true. If not, I’ll just have some more work to do. For now all I can do is put in the work, pray, meditate, and hope for the best. I think the universe is with me on this one.