His voice radiates joy and excitement before we even begin the interview. He lets me know that he’s been running around New York trying to take care of some errands before his evening performance.  He’s just left work and he’s tired, but knows that his love of music and performing will refuel him to get to the end of his busy day. 

For BYHAZE, his love of music is deep. Music is much more than creating a sound––it’s about the humanity and fullness that people are left with when they listen to his music. That’s why BYHAZE defines himself not only as a humanitarian, but an artistic philanthropist.

“I want my music to help people in dark times. I hope that my music can help people find clarity in a world that can often be so hazy.”

- BYHAZE

The concept of peace comes up quite a few times when talking about BYHAZE’s journey, the work that he does both inside and outside of the studio and why it’s so vital to the music industry now. This 25-year-old singer/songwriter from New Jersey views his music as a gateway to positivity, something he can use as a means to redefine the industry. 

With his most recent single, Magnetic, which has more than 3K views on YouTube since its spring release, BYHAZE reminds us how important it is to be mindful of the energy we put out into the world. It’s the positive energy that made BYHAZE’s performance at AFROPUNK in Brooklyn so memorable––and the very reason Attendee.com decided to Press Play on BYHAZE

AC: First, tell us about BYHAZE and how you identify your sound.

BYHAZE: I use my music as a means to get clarity on various topics of my life. In terms of discovering my sound, it’s a very organic sound. It’s a very light and uplifting sound, because when I think of a haze, I think it’s something that lingers on. I want to have my music be like that to people. I want it to kind of linger in your mind and linger in your heart so that you will never forget how you feel when you listen, and that it makes you feel more positive. Normally when you hear the word ‘haze’ you think things like, “Oh, it’s hard to see.” But I’m replacing that by providing more positivity and clarity. So that’s what I would describe my sound as, and my goal as an artist is to provide people with uplifting and positive music that helps them heal.

AC: What got you into music? 

BYHAZE: I really started out when I went to college. I was fortunate enough to collaborate with my peers and create a non-profit organization during my sophomore year, and it showed me that you don’t have to wait to be in the real world to pursue your passions or find a way to give back. You can create those opportunities for your peers, for yourself. It showed me the power of artists and the role that artists can have in galvanizing the community while using their platform to aspire and encourage other people. 

So, that’s how I do my artistry. It’s always been that way, even from the beginning. Lately I’ve been putting a lot more energy into my artistry and perfecting the craft. But it was the philanthropy that showed me how to organize and tap into that network.

AC: Does philanthropy still play a role in your life today?

BYHAZE: Outside of making music, I also work full-time, like many other artists. I work for a nonprofit called Newark Thrives where I manage a database of after-school and summertime programs within the city of Newark. I am constantly finding ways to connect youth to opportunities. With 24 hours in a day, you can always find some time to give back. And if you’re fortunate, that can be your job, too. 

I want to start a trend for artists who have such a great impact on people and give back. Like, Beyoncé is doing a great job. Rihanna is doing a great job. I can’t wait to have a roof like that.

AC: Who helped you find your voice?

BYHAZE: Well, my dad is a very creative guy, and my mom, too. My dad grew up in church as the preacher’s child, knowing how to play any type of instrument. You know, I wasn’t blessed with that gift. But my talent came in the form of singing and video editing.

So in my time, I was always listening to different artists––predominantly women artists. Artists like Keyshia Cole, Mary J., and the show, Making the Band. That taught me the grit that it takes to become an artist. I was always that kid recording covers, or making my cousins do parodies with me and finding ways to create and share them on YouTube. But when it came down to me actually putting up my music, it was after I graduated from high school, because my voice had changed. I went from being an alto to being tenor-base, you know, baritone. And I was really nervous about my voice … I didn’t know what to do. But then I found Erykah Badu’s music and it just touched me in a different way because it showed me you can touch people without belting like Whitney, Christina Aguilera, whoever. And it showed me the power of words and the power of black spirituality in music and how they both align. It changed the way that I wrote and I really started to fall in love with black influences, like A Tribe Called Quest and all those who make purposeful music. So whenever I write, I have to have intent behind it. It’s about helping someone catch the vibe and feel it. 

AC: Tell us about the inspiration behind the song Magnetic. Where did the idea come from, and what’s the song’s true meaning? 

Magnetic is really just a big celebration, like a celebration of your personal power. Sometimes you can get into a scenario with someone or something and you feel like when you don’t have that one thing anymore, you’re powerless. Sometimes you attract people who have qualities and beliefs and systems that are sometimes different from you, but you learn from them.

It’s also just playing to the positive and negative … sometimes you could be a light, and when you are light, you can attract something or someone negative that’s inherently bad for you. That spoke to me. That’s why I have that part where I’m like, “Negative and positive, opposites attract, and you want to be separate so you fight the urge to stay with the kid.” 

AC: It’s truly an amazing song. You recently had a chance to perform at AFROPUNK in Brooklyn. What was it like to be part of the Battle of the Bands finals? What did you do to get prepared for it?

BYHAZE: It was a really amazing experience. It was one of my goals starting the year off, so to watch it manifest and come to life was just crazy. You know, I wanted to kill it, embody it and just give them my all. I had to win. So, I had to get votes from people online. Once we got to the top 16, we had to battle. So I had to go through my first battle. We ended up tying with one band because we both did so well. They told us, “There is just too much talent to let you all go.” There was a huge variety: punk rock, heavy metal, and indie punk band. Then you had me who is giving reggae with some hip hop, rock and soul. It was so crazy. 

I have a musical director. His name is Aijalon “AJ” Brown”, and we met in January and became really close. And he really believed in my vision and my work. And so, you know, I talked to him about the sound I wanted to create and build in musical breaks. When I got to Afropunk I was just like, whoa! We’re actually here! It was so dope. Leading up to this show, I had to really prepare myself and rest my voice. I did like three back to back shows before the battle and was really exerting myself a lot during that time. I learned the importance of self preservation. 

AC: Who has been the biggest inspiration in your creative work?  

Definitely homage to Erykah Badu and Beyoncé. They have really influenced my work and my work ethic. Erykah is just spiritual and true to herself. Beyoncé inspires a work ethic of care and exhibits passion, which I will always look up to her for. Her execution is so incredible and I love how she produced a large documentary of her process. I feel like she uses tools to inspire and teach other people how to get it done, like her amazing Coachella performance. It was inspirational. She uplifts black artists and designers and poets and writers. She’s not afraid to galvanize people and make their work stand out, and that’s something that I love to do. I have so many talented friends and peers around me and I love working with them and allowing their work to shine through alongside me. If I’m doing well, we’re all doing well. And we’re gonna show other young people, other black people how to work together because we’re the source right now. I’m always going to like women artists because that’s kind of who I started out with, and women are the creators. 

AC: As an up-and-coming artist, what are you hoping fans get from your music? 

BYHAZE: I want them to be more introspective. You know, if they need to address their mental health, do that, because life is a lot. Especially in the black community, we’ve been working toward that a lot more lately and I want my music to add to that. It’s becoming less stigmatized as time progresses. But, I want my music to serve as a reminder that we all need help and that it’s okay to take care of our mental and spiritual home. I’m really trying to inspire people to be a spiritual being and move on with good intent, you know?

AC: If you had one message to give to fans, what would it be? 

BYHAZE: I would want them to know that God has given us all a purpose and a gift to utilize on this planet while we’re here. And the more time you spend connecting with God or whoever you view as God, the clearer you get on that purpose. Just spend time in that and respect yourself, respect others, respect the planet … and it all starts to make sense. Just be gentle with yourself. We are all growing. 

AC: What projects are up next for you? Can we expect a full album at some point?

BYHAZE: I’m currently working on my first project––I’m calling it Angel Harp. It’s about me getting clear on my purpose as an artist, and also finding my voice while understanding the type of content that I want to create. I’ve learned to not set a public date, but something will be out by the time this year is over. There will be another song out for sure, and it’ll be on a calmer frequency and more introspective. God willing, I’m planning on releasing a song this month. It’s called Angel Heart, and it has really dope visuals that I shot with it. I can’t wait to share it with you guys.


Share: