I was invited down to the shooting of Oz’iah’s new video ‘Wine for Me’ (featuring Doctor). After being blinded by the rainbow flashing lights and deafened by the loud music, I sat down with one of the UKs brightest new stars to discuss his multi-cultural heritage, being part of the Sound Bwoy movement and why he will never forget that trip to Atlanta.
You seem very bubbly and energetic today.
Yea, I’m filming my video today. Been filming since this morning.
And your still going strong?
Yea. (laughs) I’ve got a lot of energy. I love this. I think everyone is one, like their third or forth Red Bulls. Haha!
Where is the name Oz’iah from?
I actually have a very diverse background; I’m a mix of African, Italian and Asian. The name Oz’iah is Arabic and means ‘Strength from the Lord”
Wow! That’s amazing.
So, you’re part of Sound Bwoy. How did that happen?
Actually, I wouldn’t say ‘part’ of Sound Bwoy as such. I was there to help build Sound Bwoy, but I’m a solo artist and Sound Bwoy only deals with the production side of my music. I guess you can say they help micro-manage my solo career.
How long have you been making music for?
Well… (thinks) I’ve been singing since the age of 11. But I’ve only really taken it seriously in the last four years, to be honest. But I’ve always written songs, from when I was really young.
Really? So, what were you doing in that time in between?
(laughs) I was in a band before. Yes, a boy band! But things didn’t work out there. And before that I actually used to play football. Semi pro. Before I got injured.
And is that what you would have done instead if it went well, or was it always music?
Actually, if I had my way, I would have chosen football. I loved it… and I wanted the lifestyle (laughs); the cars, the WAG (laughs harder). But I think everything happens for a reason, and maybe this is my true calling.
Where would we have seen you before?
Probably playing football. Or modeling. I used to be a model too. And an actor. My face has been out there (laughs).
An actor? Anything we have seen?
I’ve only recently completed a movie called “Shank”, made by the same producers from Kidulthood and Adulthood.
What type of music do you listen too?
I’m very open-minded. I pretty much listen to everything. At home we’d typically listen to Arabic music, but with such a diverse background, it varies. And I think that comes out in my music too. ‘Wine for Me’ is more funky house, ‘Heartbreaker’ is more mainstream I guess and ‘Oh la la’ is more soca. So, you can’t define it by one thing. Im influenced by the music I lisiten to and I listen to everything, so…
Who are you inspired by?
Michael Jackson! Obviously!!! (laughs). The guys at Funkin’ Famous. They helped bring me here.
Who would you like people to compare you with?
Well… that’s a tough question. (thinks) I don’t think the UK really has anyone who is like me, or visa versa. No one who is really as much of an entertainer; a dancer, singer, you know. So I’d like to think I can be compared to people like Usher or Neyo… the UK version.
Those are some pretty big international names. Would you like to work with them?
Oh yea! Definitely. And also people like Kanye, Diddy, Timberland and Missy. That’d just be amazing.
Anyone in the UK you’d like to work with?
Yea. Chippy [Chipmunk] I think he’s doing really well at the moment, and his young swagger is off the hook. He’s definitely reppin’. I’d definitely do something oneday with Young Nate, it’s inevitable [as they are both label mates on Sound Bwoy]. I’d like to work with Ghetts, DaVinChe, Krazy Cousins, Bless Beats, so many.
You’ve got a bit of a fan base over in America, explain that story.
(laughs) ahhh, no! Basically, a friend of mine sent my picture in and entered me into a competition to be ‘The Face of Memorial Weekend 2008’. (laughs) Can you believe that?! Till this day, none of my friends have owned up to it. I ended up winning the entire competition. How crazy is that? And I’m not even American. I went back a few months ago and it was really weird because everyone recognised me.
That’s got to help your career, don’t you think?
Definitely, at least this way, I’ve kind of built up a backing or fan-base, if you like.
What’s your faveourite track out at the moment?
Makela – Get out. That’s such a good tune.
Where can we catch you next?
My first single ‘Wine for Me’ is being released in September… so… then. I’m also performing at Funkin Famous Live on Friday 18th September. The whole event is in association with Love Music Hate Racism, so is one to catch.
Catch Oz’iah on www.myspace.com/oziah or catch him at Funkin Famous & Love Music Hate Racism Live on Friday 18th September.
Words by Tolu Akisanya