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Iyaz Interview: Breakthrough Pop Sensation Follows Smash Single 'Replay' with Debut Album

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Iyaz

Described as this year’s breakthrough pop sensation, twenty-two year old Virgin Islander Keidran Jones, better known by his stage name of Iyaz, shot up the Billboard charts to number two with his debut hit single “Replay” last year. The song peaked at #1 in many other territories, including the United Kingdom.

“Replay,” was released as the lead single of the album of the same name on July 7, 2009, while “Solo,” the second single, was released in February 2010, and the third single, “So Big,” came out on July 6, 2010. The album will be released in the United States in August 2010.

“All the time! He had every album, every one. He got the ones that came 5 or 6 in one pack. He was heavy into Bob Marley, so I grew up listening to him and gospel, Kirk Franklin, all of them.”

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Iyaz, tell me what life was like growing up in the Virgin Islands.

Iyaz: Oh man, life growing up in the Virgin Islands is almost like everywhere else, you know. You wake up, go to school, and go to work. You get beat if you don’t do your homework, you get beat if you don’t do the dishes, you know? Basically, that’s what it was.

Iyaz

Iyaz (Krupp Kommunications)

The only difference is the atmosphere. It’s like 98 degrees in the shade and you don’t have McDonald’s and all that good stuff.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): There are several small villages there?

Iyaz: Exactly and I think there are a total of 28,000-30,000 people living there. I performed in front of crowds that were more people than where I’m from (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you a British citizen?

Iyaz: I’m a U.S. citizen. I was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but I grew up in the British Virgin Islands.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): The native music there is called Fungi, correct?

Iyaz: Yeah, Fungi music! I can’t really explain that. It’s like ukuleles, bass guitars … it’s more like an island type feel, almost like reggae but less sound, almost like groovy.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did that type of music influence our songwriting and music?

Iyaz: Mostly reggae because my dad used to listen to a lot of that.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did your dad listen to Bob Marley?

Iyaz: All the time! He had every album, every one. He got the ones that came 5 or 6 in one pack. He was heavy into Bob Marley, so I grew up listening to him and gospel, Kirk Franklin, all of them.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You were discovered by Sean Kingston?

Iyaz: Yeah, I was just putting my stuff up on MySpace. One day I found a message from Sean Kingston saying that he loved my music and wanted to work with me.

In the beginning, I didn’t actually believe it was Sean so I gave him a hard time. I was deleting the messages and everything. But then I finally gave him my number and he called me. We talked and he flew me out to meet him the next day.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is he someone you had followed musically?

Iyaz: Nope.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So you really didn’t know much about him?

Iyaz: No, but I had heard a song the month before.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you write all three songs you have out now?

Iyaz: “Replay” was co-written by a group called Rock City (also from the Virgin Islands). “Solo” was written by me and my buddy named August. I basically work with people because I’m always on the road … here, there, doing everything. It gets a little crazy.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): All three are love songs.

Iyaz: Yes, all three are true stories.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): About the same girl?

Iyaz: Yep, it was actually about the girl I was with at that point in time. “Replay” was about a girl I was with and “Solo” was about the same girl. We broke up and “So Big” was … well, we were supposed to be together when “So Big” came out.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): But you’re not together?

Iyaz: No, it didn’t work out quite as planned.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are the other songs on the album (out in August) about love also?

Iyaz: Yeah, they’re fun songs about love, stuff people can relate to. Everybody can relate to love. It’s just island pop, high-energy make you feel good music.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You have been called this year’s breakthrough pop sensation. What do you think about that?

Iyaz: Oh man, it sure does feel good, you know. I wasn’t planning on that. I just always wanted to have my music heard everywhere. Everything that’s happening now I’m just thankful for and happy for every second of it.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Who do you listen to, Iyaz?

Iyaz: I listen to Miley Cyrus, Charice, Lady Gaga, Chris Brown is my dude, Lil Wayne, Green Day, a little bit of everything.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Speaking of Miley Cyrus, you’ll be appearing on Hannah Montana next season. Will you be acting or singing?

Iyaz: Both.

Iyaz ReplayMelissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What was it like to meet Oprah Winfrey on May 11?

Iyaz: I call her Oprama (laughs). She’s like the president! She’s down to earth and cool. You meet some people you don’t know and by their status you tend to think that they might be stuck up or a certain way, but she was far from anything that my mind would ever think she was.

Oprah was cool, just having fun, and talking to everybody like normal people.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You’re traveling now with Sean Kingston and Justin Bieber.

Iyaz: Yes, I’m on tour with them. I’m doing a lot of dates, but I still have previous engagements so I’m going to be on and off the tour.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What do you think about young Justin?

Iyaz: Oh, that’s my little man, my little homey, you know? I met him last year and ever since them he’s been like my little brother. On You Tube we’re clowning around, pretending we’re playing basketball, that kind of stuff.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What else have you got going on?

Iyaz: The tour is about it right now. I had to shut down everything.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is that until September?

Iyaz: Yeah, then off maybe a week and the second one starts.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Just one last question, how did you come up with the name Iyaz?

Iyaz: It was actually my godfather’s name. He was the boss, the head kahuna, and the one in charge. They used to always call me “Mini Iyaz” when I was younger so … as you can see, I’m not “mini” anymore.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You didn’t think Keidran Jones would make music history?

Iyaz: Nah. I didn’t want to do that because that makes me crazy when you try to check into a hotel (laughs).

© 2010 Smashing Interviews Magazine. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written consent of the publisher.

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