Recently, The Herald sat down with Raleigh-based musician AZUL, who released her debut single, “Magic,” on Jan. 29. In this interview, AZUL discussed her creative process as a musician and what it’s like to be a female musician. Her music is mainly pop with an alternative flair, but AZUL gave great insight into the power of all music and how you should not be afraid to chase your dreams. When the pandemic is over and live shows are in full swing, AZUL is a must-see performer.
AZUL had plenty of musical inspiration growing up. She explained, “I watched my parents listen to music” and that made her sing along with the music they exposed her to. She also dove into her 1997 playlist, which included the likes of Ricky Martin, Shania Twain and Celine Dion. She commented, “I could sing their albums released that year from front to back.” She also mentioned her love of Whitney Houston, Queen, Beyoncé and Sui Generis, which she describes as the equivalent of The Beatles in Argentina, which is where she was born. She explained, “They have influenced me on how I layer things and to think of things percussively. I question, what’s a good melodic line and the rhythm behind it? All these artists have signature melodies and rhythms. Look at Queen. They have a very specific style. The bigness of their sound is unique.” She also noted that she found jazz very young and that’s probably why she was a sad kid. However, she added that Ella Fitzgerald is an incredible musician.
For AZUL, becoming a musician was no easy task. AZUL explained, “I didn’t allow myself to think of myself being a musician. I was made to think that it was something that I was not good enough to do or that it was a hobby.” After college, she stopped caring what others thought, and that’s when she decided it was the thing that made her happiest and feel the most alive. There was a defining moment in her decision to become a musician. She recalled, “When I lived in Grenoble, I would go out to bars and hang out with other musicians. I knew I wanted to devote myself to music when in France. I knew I’d have a hustle, even Beyoncé has to hustle, but I knew I had to go for it. I love performing.” She loves being on stage, and her biggest passion is when she gets to collaborate with other people or alone time with her piano.
When asked about the toughest parts of her journey in becoming a musician, it was difficult for AZUL to define them. She explained, “There are specific moments but also daily things. Being the only woman or immigrant in the room can be tough. Even convincing people I’m close with to listen to my music has been hard. Those tiny battles are just as big as being able to walk into an agency or label.” She stressed that support is the biggest thing an artist can have. It’s a tough industry, so having people who care makes a difference. AZUL went on to say, “Sane people don’t choose to do this [career]. You expose yourself all the time to rejection. ”
AZUL has a process for writing her music. Yet, ideas strike at all moments. She commented, “I’m either tentative and write one song or when I’m sitting at my piano, melody and lyrics come at the same time. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and scribble an idea, or I’ll open my voice memo.” She also said that she is not a great sleeper. She’ll often write during the night. She later stated, “Sometimes a melody gets stuck in my head, or I’ll sing to myself and think of things rhythmically. I also set aside time to sit and go through all of my notes and voice memos and put them together.” She lets the music guide her. As for her favorite way to write songs, she says, “I like pen and paper.”
Her methods have proven to work for her debut single, “Magic.” She expressed, “I wrote ‘Magic’ right after my knee reconstruction surgery; I couldn’t walk. There were complications. My recovery was longer, and I wasn’t ready for that. I had to rebuild my sense of independence. It changed my view on how I can rely on people. I have to trust in the people that are offering their hands and are willing to catch me.” She went on to say that “Magic” took her to a low place, but she got out of it by connecting with people. She says she is still struggling mentally, but physically she’s strong. There was so much that felt impossible at the time of the surgery, and she knows so many people don’t want to admit how scared they are at times. Her favorite lyric from the track is, “Do you believe in magic, Do you believe in impossible things?” She knows that this song was her story.
So, what’s her advice for women writing music? AZUL says, “Do it. Also, find other women and trust your gut. Connect with the people who are genuine and avoid those who are full of themselves. Find mentors and surround yourself with people who are better than you and are willing to invest in you.” She also went on to say that she likes being in North Carolina and the Triangle Area because you can find a community and invest in them, and find connections quickly instead of being lost in a bigger city. It allows someone to be themself. Finally, she emphasized that “you don’t have to know everything, you just have to start. At the end of the day, you have to like your music and find people you trust.”
By Kaylee Haas, Staff Writer