Music artist Azuri Moon is out with his new music video ‘When The Radar’s Gone‘ from his upcoming first EP that is dropping June, 2020 titled “The Ridge: Vol 1“. Hailing from Venice Beach outside Los Angeles, Azuri Moon is new on the scene and making waves with his authentic approach to multi-instrumentalist sounds defining a genre of his own. We sat down him to find out what makes him tick, inspires his style and what he has in store for fans this year..
Image by Catherine Asanov
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story. How did your background and culture shape you andwhat creative expression means to you and why?
(Azuri): Hmm, that is a pretty loaded question. Both of my parents were/are Grateful Dead heads and I was born on tour with the band. By the time I was almost 5, I had already seen over 200 live concerts across the US. I don’t really remember when I feel in love with music, it really has always been around. But I do remember when I fell in love with “playing” music. I picked up the guitar when I was around 11 years old; around that time, I had taught myself a little Beethoven on the piano but when I found the guitar it was like love at first sight. At the time my brother, father and I had just come out of some time being homeless and we moved into a sailboat in Marina Del Rey, CA. I didn’t have an amp, but I convinced my grandmother to buy me a $100 Blue Fender Bullet for my birthday and Chanukah present. I would rest my head against the guitar in the V-birth of our boat and play for 4-6 hours a day after homework. Through my teenage years, I started playing a few blues and jazz gigs around LA and fell in love with John Coltrane and world music. I was a part of a few larger youth jazz ensembles and big bands; and when I turned 17, I enrolled at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. I always laugh about going to school there because we are often compared to Berklee school of music on the west coast but for anyone who lives in Boston, they know it’s a college town with a lot of respect for their institutions. Going to school in Hollywood was the complete opposite. While on campus, it was like a sanctuary; The moment you stepped onto Hollywood Blvd. No one gave a F&#* about how much theory you knew or what sonatas you had been studying. I spent some time playing as a guitar player on a cruise lines, doing session work for other major and independent artists and the whole time teaching and composing for my original rock fusion group at the time, “Ship of The Rising Sun.” After graduating college with my bachelor’s degree and playing in LA for a few years I had this huge collection of music I was working on but no outlet to express it. By this point I played over 9 instruments and was doing most my work all in house, by myself. This was around 2018-19. Seeking freedom; freedom of expression, freedom from genre, freedom to experiment I started my solo career as an artist. And I am finally releasing my first pieces to the public 2020. Music, as any artform, has always been a mode of expressing the universe, the infinite and the personal, for me and I feel like I am truly just beginning to explore what is out there as an artist and a generally curious person.
Artistic expression is beauty in humanity, a way of releasing one’s self from within – was music something that called to you over time more than other artistic avenues or did you just know at some point?
(Azuri): I feel like it has always been with me. If I owe anyone for that, I guess it is my parents for exposing me to art, music and philosophy. However, my relationship with it grows more and more every day. It is a process. I would be disingenuous if I didn’t reflect that I also love other forms of expression. When I was very young, I wanted to be a cartoonistand then a professional skate boarder. In my pre-teens I was an active young actor in Los Angeles and was a pop-n-locker and break dancer in my late teens. Today, I love and have practiced martial arts for years, love dance and studying physics, among other things. I feel like the more we learn the more it informs our art and expression.
How has living in and around Los Angeles pushed you and your career/life? How has that shaped your found talent musically? Do you think your surroundings have influenced your style/music?
(Azuri): That is an interesting question because I’ve grown up in Los Angeles most of my life, so I feel like I have a different perspective on how it’s shaped my career. There are pros and cons to anywhere that you live. I feel like in a positive light, it has made me grateful for all that goes into a production and it has also required a standard of my playing that isn’t found in most parts of the world, “we have some serious cats here.” On the cons side of things, it has perhaps made me somewhat more cynical about the motives behind a piece of art. Artists are very genuine but when you get money involved there are a lot of motives from a lot of people. It’s a jagged line we must walk sometimes and I am grateful for all the artists that maintain a voice through it all.
What are some of your heaviest influences in art, music, just creatively in general, your top three favorites?
(Azuri): Top three!!! Madness!! I think for any artist that list is vast and depends on the specific part of their art or life they are reflecting on. But for the sake of the question:
My numero uno, is John Coltrane – Beyond his virtuosity, beyond the beauty of his playing, Coltrane was a seeker… There was never a ledge high enough to climb and beyond the sky was the limit. As a guitarist, I am a huge legato player and I think that started with listening to sax players, particularly “Trane,” the rest comes from nature.
Second, I’d say is Allan Holdsworth – After years of being the only guitarist I knew who pushed 4 and 5 note per string legato techniques – In my teens, I discovered Allan who was basically the guru of that approach. His insights and experience were so impactful on me as an instrumentalist, I would never be the same.
And Third, Kurt Vonnegut – I am a big existentialist, I guess; Science fiction for me has always been a genre of possibilities, both the great and the dark. But where there is an artist with warnings and artists with stories, Vonnegut has always revealed to me a simple acceptance and humor about our reality. I think that humor is something I try to harbor while addressing serious topics in my music. As he famously writes, “and so it goes.”
How has your music process and writing changed from when you started, and what things do you focus on most with respect to your brand or image and music that make up you as a music artist?
(Azuri): When I first began releasing original music it was with a group and during that time, keeping the music coherent with our brand was a priority. But I have always been an artist that played and was exposed to a lot of different styles. When I was a young teenager, my pops and I would play a game where he would name two or three different styles of music and I was supposed to mix them. I think that is at the root of who I am as an artist. I love looking between the cracks of what there is and seeing if there is a thread between them, all the while looking for things, they may have missed all together. Since that time my music has sought to step beyond boundaries and find my own voice and perspective. Sonically, it has changed drastically but I think that happens with every Ep/Album.
What do you want people to hear and take away from your writing/music?
(Azuri): My music is about inspiration; Inspiration to push beyond genres; Inspiration to agitate and express oneself; Inspiration to identify one’s own boundaries and push beyond them. We are humans and we have and can achieve pretty much all that we put our minds too. It’s up to us to choose what that is and hopefully make a better and more beautiful world. I want people to have that feeling of possibility in themselves when they hear my music.
How has COVID-19 affected you & your family personally and your community during this period of lockdown?
(Azuri): I moved from Los Angeles to Northern California at the beginning of February to study Indian classical music atthe Ali Akbar Khan College of Music. I had dreamed of studying there since I was about 14 years old. My time at the college before the quarantine was a magical experience but was short lived and unfortunately, created a financial dilemma for me personally. I am grateful that none of my family has been directly affected; However, I have many close friends in the medical field risking their lives every day. That concerns me and I am grateful for what they do. In regard to my industry, my fellow session players and musicians have been hit really hard by this and we are all not sure how things will recover when the lockdown is lifted; It has however, been a great opportunity as an artist to release music online but I think I am going a little crazy not seeing the sun frequently.
What have you been doing during the lockdown to stay sane?
(Azuri): I recorded a full 4 track EP. I released my first single Fri. March 13th, 2020 and at the time had two EP’s fully recorded for release, “The Ridge: Vol 1,” and “The Ridge: Vol 2.” Since that time, I have completed a mix tape, “Journal Entries.” And in the last week and a half of quarantine I recorded the whole 4 track EP, “Quaran-tee-pee.” So, a lot of music. Besides that, the occasional bike ride, reading a lot and binge watching “Cheers.”
If you had to take one person alive or dead into quarantine lockdown with you for 30 days and you only got one object to take with you what would it be and who would you pick?
(Azuri): Hah, well I will get my head out of the gutter for that question. Probably “Trane,” I would love to pick his brain for 30 days, play some tunes and see how far we can expand. And if it was only “one” object, I’d say a piano.
What’s the first thing you want to do or go to when the lockdown ends, what do you miss most?
(Azuri): I want to swim in the ocean and then see a live show; Perhaps, do some capoeira… That all works as “one thing” if I can do it all in one day right?..
What new music do you have on the horizon?
(Azuri): My first full Ep, “The Ridge: Vol. 1” Drops May, 2020
Extra releases – Mix Tape – “Journal Entries” April-May 2020
Ep – “Quaran-tee-pee” April-May 2020
Second full EP, “The Ridge: Vol. 2” Drops Summer 2020
What’s your spirit animal?
(Azuri): If I had to choose, it would be a free bird, like a crane or a hawk. A dolphin would be a close second.
What’s your favorite thing about making music and playing music live?
(Azuri): My favorite thing about making music is the process of discovery. Finding what works, what feels honest.
My favorite thing about playing live is the spontaneity; whether it be what original thing you can come up with as a player in the moment or how unique and induvial each audience interacts with the music you are making, each moment is unique in time. Miles Davis always used to say the recording was just an advertisement for the live show. I think both have merit, but the live show is the ball game and the record is watching it with your friends.
What’s one thing that was a challenge you had to overcome choosing this music path and how did it affect you and your writing?
(Azuri): The first hurdle was believing I could do it solo. I started playing professionally in my teens and started my rock band when I was 16. After nearly 10 years of playing with them the idea that I could do it on my own was daunting. Also,the idea that I had wasted time with the group not truly expressing myself as an artist weighed on me on like a B52. Was I too old? Was I not pop enough? Was there a reason I wasn’t already successful? I had to overcome doubt and realize that what matters is that I am making art with all of me. The rest are just details.
What are some challenges you have faced and overcome to get where you are now?
(Azuri): Challenges are relative. I grew up quite poor and went in and out of abusive households my entire childhood. But I never looked at those as challenges, simply, we can’t control what happens to us, just how we live and interact with those events. So, for me panhandling as a kid was an opportunity to learn more about humility and humanity then it was a challenge or hurdle. Since that period, I have probably experienced most clichés about being a musician or artist, from working with amazing artists and companies and having unique invaluable experiences to being ripped off, having things stolen and having relationships destroyed. But that’s honestly what a Rock band can be like, good and the bad. And how LA can be, it’s a place of extremes.
How do you think the DYI movement through social media and internet in general has changed the industry and changed the way musical artists like yourself get discovered and reach new fans? What’s that kind of personal ability to directly connect to your fans meant to you as an artist and during this time? How do you think this event in history will change the internet and how we interact socially whether it be music or art or just in general?
(Azuri): Social Media has completely changed the way we interact as people and certainly with artists. I think there arepros and cons about it. I believe for decades, labels and corporations had far too much control on the narrative of music and musical genres that often left great artists feeling restricted. So, regarding that, DYI has been an amazing opportunity for the art form, in that it has allowed far more people to have a voice on what they think music, good music and creative music are. It has also broadened our boarders for where we find talent. You don’t have to move to LA or NY anymore to be discovered and amazing talents that may have been overlooked in the past have found recognition. The cons are that the level of content being created and the availability of it have made both artists and listeners less critical, and prejudice about the art they consume. As a result, we have a lot of unoriginal art being produced in the mainstream, music that have the same sounds, grooves and lyrical styles as well as a lower level of production being demanded. For me, being able to directly interact with my fans is important. People are why we play live, it’s about what connects us and the experiences we share, so being able to relate and experience with fans is extremely necessary
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