Mozez will not make you get up and dance. He will, however, make you think. In a music world where poppy tunes and heavy beats rule, it is refreshing to hear an artist who does not rely on catchy hooks to make his statement.
Along the same vein as Thievery Corporation and Frou Frou, Mozez finds his place in his new album, So Still. He combines soft tempo rhythms, moving lyrics and a sexy voice to create songs that are appealing to the senses.
Born Osmond Wright, the Jamaican-born singer/producer found his musical roots in the church and with gospel. Moving on from there, he found himself working the club scene with such productions as Ministry of Sounds.
His best work, however, came later. He had developed “his own laid-back, heartfelt, and deeply soulful style” when he met Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker. With similar thinking and styles, the three began working together. This collaboration led to the creation of Zero 7.
Zero 7 released the album Simple Things in 2001 and When It Falls in 2004. Many of the tracks that came from Simple Things were later seen on MTV, in TV commercials and on soundtracks for films like Garden State.
Now after the success and recognition of Zero 7, Mozez has finally released the music he had been continuously working for his solo debut. He recruited friends to help including Ben Chapman, Nightmares On Wax and of course, Zero 7.
The result is indeed inspirational. The opening song “Feel Free” is a beautiful tribute to love and passion which was crafted by Mozez and producer Guy Sigsworth. The next track “Baby Blue” is a hopeful message of new beginnings after troubled times. Moving on in the album, the track “So Still” is about that moment when one finds inner peace and personal fulfillment.
This is indeed the theme of the album: the search for private revelations in one’s daily life. It is an open discussion of the moments in which we find love, excitement, pain and pleasure. It is a discussion Mozez wishes to have with his listeners and in a sense, the world.
I was lucky enough to talk to Mozez over the phone. Here is a transcript of our conversation.
Miss Hipstah: I wanted to start off by asking you how you got your start? Cause I know, from your bio, that you got your start in the church and then you went on to make a transition from the church to the club scene.
Mozez: Yes, for me, it wasn’t a transition, because for me I haven’t changed (laughs). It’s for me just a different state basically in terms of…of belief. My beliefs changed. It’s not a change in terms of personality, it was just a moving on to a different stage.
MH: Well, when you say that your beliefs changed, what do you mean? Do you mean musically…?
Mz: No, I’m still a Christian, basically, you know but your understanding of God and the Universe and everything changes as it goes on. It was a fundamental change. Things that I wouldn’t have done growing up. I have a better understanding now.
MH: So, then how did you hook up with Zero 7?
Mz: (chuckles) Zero 7 came after I’d decided to move on from the dance music scene a bit. It wasn’t working out as it should have, and I decided that ok, it’s not necessarily the dance scene…it was too much…too intense for me…so I decided to do my own projects. So I started writing and that’s when I met Zero 7, moving around and meeting different producers, before Zero 7 came in…They weren’t Zero 7 then, they were just…um…some friends, basically
MH: But you worked with them for a long time?
Mz: Yeah, I worked with them for a long time
MH: Was it a good experience?
MZ: Yeah, I mean we worked on several other projects before Zero 7 came into being. We just enjoyed writing different stuff, you know, sort of different things.
MH: Well, now you have So Still. Are you excited about it?
Mz: I am. Indeed, I am
MH: Cause it’s your first album, as a solo artist and also…is it your own production?
Mz: Well, most of it is. [There] are a lot of guests on it, but I am the coordinator, basically. Yeah, I do a lot of the production
MH: In the song “Spinning Top”, you have Yvonne John-Lewis…Is she someone you’re working with? Are you bringing her along with you?
Mz: I met Yvonne a little bit before, while working with Zero 7, but before Zero 7 came into being. She became a really good friend and she has done a lot of work for me. I asked her, cause I absolutely love her voice, I asked her if she could do the song. So yes, she is somebody that I’m working with and helping her with her career as well.
MH: Another person you worked with, Sia, who also worked with Zero 7…you worked with her as well correct, as part of the group?
Mz: Not in terms of writing and producing, we worked together on the Zero 7 project.
MH: Cause she has her own album coming out now and its interesting to see that both of you have your albums coming out at the same time…
Mz: It’s a strange thing you know, because her album was released two years ago here… But it’s a good thing. She’s a great singer as well…She’s a good girl.
MH: What are your plans for the next year? So Still just came out in January, so you have all of 2006 to work with it, so what are your plans?
Mz: As I said, I plan to promote the album as much as I can. We have a tour coming up…
MH: Is that European, American or all over?
Mz: Well, we’re trying to go all over, but um, we’re just looking at European at the moment. It really depends on how much America goes for it….well, how the world goes for it basically, so it really depends on that. But I would love to come and do some gigs in the States. So the plans are to continue building and building it up and getting it to as [many] people as possible. We have a few festivals to do…and I’m currently writing the next album. It won’t take as long as this first did to put together. I’m working on a few different things, because I write and produce for a few other people as well. So I’m busy.
MH: What influenced this album? I mean, musically speaking…where did you look for inspiration? Was it always there?
Mz: The album is…it’s a story of my life, because I’ve just written it from my own experience. I’ve tried to do something that would speak of what I think, and how I see things around me. So I would say its influences are numerous. From Marvin Gaye…I try to take different pieces from all over and fuse it together. It’s an amalgamation of different things, different ideas, different places…the influences are my dad, my mom, my family, Zero 7…everything.
MH: What’s your favorite song on the album?
Mz: I think it would be “Venus Rise”, because of the nature of the track. I love the whole production of that, the feel of it…is pretty cool.
MH: So, what are you listening to now? What’s in your CD player, Ipod, whatever?
Mz: Well what’s in my CD player currently is Massive Attack… I’m listening to a lot of things at the moment. But for my album it would be a lot of Marvin Gaye stuff, a lot of old stuff…I love that…I’m listening to Frou Frou as well. I don’t know if you know about Frou Frou… Actually he lives next door to me…I’m listening to Robert Miles as well…I’m listening to a lot of things.
MH: Is there any British singer in particular?
Mz: I love Coldplay. I think they’re great. U2 as well… In terms of British acts, those are the two that stand out. In terms of the world thing…yeah…Kanye West is doing quite a bit at the moment, and also John Legend as well.
MH: Is there anything you’d like to say about your album?
Mz: Well I really hope the public goes for it. I really hope the people of America go for it. It’s a really cool and easy album. I think it will take back people to a good place…a good place in their life.
MH: Do you have an idea for who the perfect audience would be for your album? A lot of musicians would say “Everyone” would be the perfect audience…
Mz: Well, that’s what I would say as well…But I have no specific [qualifications with which] to launch it. Of course you have the 12-16 year olds who wont go for it, but I think it’s a refreshing album…I hope people of all types go for this.
MH: What does So Still mean? Where does that come from?
Mz: So Still? Well, it’s what encompasses the entire idea of the album. So Still is that inner peace that you strive to attain, that place that you go to and find inner peace and harmony with yourself, with God, with your husband, with whoever. It’s that place that you find that inner joy.