I've been enjoying the musical progression of producer/composer Izzard for a few years, and his releases simply do not disappoint. Straying away from his more beat-drive, electronic work, Izzard most recently released the LP In Twos. The drumless album is an ambient headspace, a drone daydream, a modern classical meditation. Minimal and free-forming, he describes it as "a 10 track ambient piano album made with the intention of passive listening, relaxing and sleep." In the interview below, the Pennsylvania producer answered a few questions about the new album and also talked long bus rides, bedtime music, and the other album he plans to release this calendar year.
How long have you been working on In Twos?
I've been working on In Twos for two years now on and off. I have to be in a particular head space to make slower, more introspective music, and it only happens occasionally. Most of the tracks on there were made in one or two sittings, but they all have a clear image or inspiration in my head they're meant to convey.
What's the origin behind the title?
In Twos originally was meant to allude to INTOs or looking into one's self. I take three hour long bus rides from University to home and vice versa, and I always make sure to take night buses and listen to ambient music through all of it. This is usually where I get into a deep state of focus and thought about many different things, and I wanted to reference that in the title because that time spent is really important to me.
The title also referred to how I originally made a couple of the songs in very close proximity to each other, so the songs came in twos. However, I scrapped a bunch of these so I guess that meaning is kinda gone [laughs].
The final meaning behind In Twos came after I realized how many shorter piano pieces I had laying around, and how I could combine them with the longer drone ambient songs to make an album that sort of cycles back and forth between the two types of songs. This was something my friend actually pointed out to me, and I thought it was probably the best meaning out of them all.
How would you describe this album to a stranger (without playing it for them)?
I would tell them it's a very sleepy, minimal and passive listening type of music. I'd like to think of the ambient songs as canvases left deliberately blank.
Is there a particular track that In Twos revolves around? Or maybe an original piece that spawned the rest?
I think Joined in Darkness came first. It was better than any other ambient work I had done up until that point, so I wanted to continue experimenting and hopefully have a bunch of songs that were all in the same drone-y style but all different in their textures and imagery.
You wrote in the SoundCloud description that it's intended for relaxing and sleeping. Outside of your own music, what have you been listening to before bed?
Chihei Hatakeyama has been a favorite for many years now. The drone songs on the album are honestly a love letter to him. "I Am A Cat" and "You're Still In It" are two of my all time favorite songs. Also, for my last year Spotify stats, my top 5 played tracks were all songs by him. I just really really love his music.
If you can, take a picture of your workspace (or provide it with words). What are some essentials?
Warm lighting is absolutely needed. I seriously can't get into the proper head space around bright white fluorescent lights. As for gear, I honestly only need my mic and a little midi keyboard! When I'm at home I have much more than that, but when I travel I only take those with me and I never really feel impeded by my lack of gear. Sometimes being forced to work with less is more inspiring.
How do you feel you've progressed since releasing the 2015 EP Shelter? Do you still approach music similarly?
Oh man, it's been a while. I made that EP when I was in 11th grade, and I'm entering my 3rd year of college now. Since then, I've scrapped three different finished EPs worth of material. I think the main difference in how I approach music now is that I try to be very specific with every sound I choose to include in my songs. I understand now that more sounds =/= a better song. This album was kind of the culmination of that, seeing the minimalism of the ambient songs.
What's the rest of 2018 looking like for you?
I should hopefully have another project out before the end of this year! This one isn't an ambient release, and instead more similar to music I have released previously. Very excited for that!
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
Honestly, finding a schedule that works best for you and sticking to it was immensely helpful to me. Keeping a steady sleep schedule, eating better, exercising regularly, and just getting out of my room every day helped my creativity so much. I know these are generic lifestyle tips but they do wonders for music (at least that I've found). This also applies to setting some time aside every day for music. For me, it happens to be in the morning right after I have my coffee.
Any final words / thoughts / shout-outs?
Listen to Kogane's and Strawberry Hospital's music! They are my close friends and helped me a lot with this release by listening through the album multiple times and giving me great feedback. And their music is absolutely amazing and extremely underrated.