With inventive re-imaginings of the reggae-splashed, hook-heavy Pop/R&B, that artists like Rihanna, Sean Paul, Nicki Minaj, and Sean Kingston, made popular, IYAZ quickly built up a huge cult following. Multi-Platinum, singer, songwriter, and rapper IYAZ released his first single “Replay”, written by him and Jason Derulo, which rapidly soared on the charts and reached #1 Top 40 and is currently over 6 times platinum. In just a short time, he has shared the stage with Justin Beiber, P Diddy, Sean Kingston, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Jason Derulo, Charice, 102.7 KISS FM’s concert series “Wango Tango” 2 years in a row, etc. His songs have a been licensed in countless TV shows and video games like Melrose Place, The Voice, The City, So Random, Dance Central 3, Wii Dance Party, etc., and he has already made the rounds on TV. IYAZ’s songwriting style is timeless and universal; he is a storyteller who paints visual scenarios that tug at the listener’s heart-strings. IYAZ is Virgin Islands born and globally adored!
First of all where the hell does your name come from?
Well, my grandfather’s name was Iyaz and it means ‘boss’, or ‘the big one’. They would call me mini iyaz when i was younger, im not young anymore so now you got iyaz!
Could you tell us how was it like growing up in the Virgin Islands?
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. 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.
Are you a British citizen?
I’m a U.S. citizen. I was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but I grew up in the British Virgin Islands.
Your rise to fame has been pretty speedy, Kingston got in touch with you only 2 years ago and you got to UK number almost out of nowhere, how does it feel?
It feels amazing! It really is a dream come true. It’s something I’ve always dream about. It’s so great that the success isn’t just in the US. It’s amazing that other countries are into my music as much as my home country. It’s just so crazy. I can’t thank the fans worldwide enough for their support.
Had you been to the UK before you made it number 1 here?
I hadn’t! It was great though, a lotta work, but great you know.
What do you think of London then, the girls were going crazy for you in Faces when we saw you there?
I loved it! They really know how to party there. I mean great clubs and the people are cool. The trip was crazy but a real experience. I’m looking forward to going back in April. Hopefully, a little warmer this time around.
How long have you been singing for?
As long as I can remember. My whole family is involved in music you know. My mom is a singer, my older sister is a singer, my younger sister is a singer too! I’ve always been singing and rapping. It’s like I just mumble melodies in my head until I work out the lyrics after. It comes really naturally.
“Replay,” has sold more digital single downloads than Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” How does it feel to be included in the same sentence as heavyweights like Jay-Z and Lady Gaga?
Man, it feels good, especially [because] I’ve been lookin’ up to Jay-Z for years. I’ve been watching him do his thing, watching him rip the charts up, and for me to be on the charts with him and even, say, Lady Gaga – ‘cause I heard Lady Gaga was named the number one artist in the world. Like, artist, not who has the number one single or album – number one artist in the world. And for the fact that I’m in that category on the charts, nothing but love. I feel good. My mama’s proud of me, everybody’s proud of me, the Islands is proud of me, and we’re just trying to take this one to the top.
You and Kingston have turned out to be pretty close but still no major collaboration, are you working on anything?
Well, we have actually. There may even be a track on the album featuring Sean as well as Nipsey Hussle and some others. Sean and I are really close and looking to work together more in the future.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world who would it be?
Green Day! I love Green Day. 21 Guns! Boulevard of Broken Dreams! We are on the same label to Warner Bros Records, so hopefully when i get off the road it would be awesome to get them on my record.
Your parents where both involved a lot with music but is there any other musicians that helped inspire? – who are your favorites? …
Yes, bob marley definitely played a big roll along with kirk franklyn and a lot others that I grew up listening to.
Obviously with the success you’ve had you must be very busy, do you miss island living now?
Yes and no. I miss my mom of course and the laid back lifestyle, but I would also say no because I’ve been there all my life. Now I live in Fort Lauderdale, FL now and spend a lot of time in Los Angeles. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else than Florida really.
Did you always want to be a musician?
Yeah, always. I remember growing up with music and always wanting to be in music. Me and my friends would always get together and put together some tracks and it was always what I wanted to do in the future.
If you weren’t a superstar what do you think you’d be doing right now?
I’d be back in the Islands or something and just finishing up school. I was studying digital recording arts and video productions when I got signed. I only have one more semester to go so will probably finish that at some time.
What are your favorite moments until now?
I was part of the ‘We Are The World’ part 2 that was just recorded a couple weeks ago. I was in the same room with Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, and a bunch of other legends. It was so amazing to be in the same room as all these other artists that I really admire. It was a real life achievement to be apart of that.
What are better the girls of showbiz or island girls?
Island girls! They are just more chill and down to earth. Showbiz girls are great too but I prefer the chill ones. Even you know, the girl from my video for ‘Replay’? She is from Panama,and… she was like the nicest girl ever! I don’t think a showbiz girl that looked like that would be that cool. But you know, I love all the girls no matter what.