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The welcome return of IYAZ and his ‘Island Pop’ (Includes interview)

One could hardly go anywhere five or six years ago without hearing “Replay,” the chart-topping debut single from IYAZ (real name Keidran Jones), a 28-year-old, Caribbean-born singer and songwriter who effortlessly combines R&B, hip-hop and reggae to create his own “island sound” and who has been living in the US for the last 10 years.

“I’ve been getting everything together,” he says of his time out of the limelight. “I’ve been off for about a year and a half – I’ve just been home with the family. I took time to get my craft together, get myself together mentally and physically. So I’m back now, back in the game, about to show people what they’ve been missing.”

The first single from his upcoming third album, expected some time around March or April, is called “Alive” and it’s another infectious summertime groove of the type we’ve come to expect. In keeping with the artist’s collaborative spirit it’s also a duet, this time with Nash Overstreet of Nashville-based pop/rock band Hot Chelle Rae.

Reflecting on the single, the former student at the New England Institute of Technology – where he studied digital recording – states, “I was actually at home just working on some tracks and my cousin and I we both wrote it while I was in my living room.

“We were trying to figure out who we should put on it and he’s like, ‘Let’s try Nash’ and I’m like, ‘That sounds like a good idea,’ so I sent the track over to Nash and told him just to bless it. Before you know it, he sent it back to me and he killed it. Everybody just fell in love with it after that.”

“Some people will be in a relationship where it’s not really working out,” continues IYAZ, who was first discovered by Sean Kingston on MySpace, explaining what the song’s about, “but you love the person so much would you actually want to let all of that go?

“Maybe you and your girl are always arguing, but would you want to throw all of that away when they’re the one that brightens up your days, when they’re the one that makes you feel a lot better when nobody else can? I kinda based it on that.”

What can we expect from the new album? How will it differ from his previous work, 2010’s Replay and 2015’s Japanese-only release Aurora? “You will hear I grew a lot in my music… Beat selection, all of that, everything is just completely different right now. The songs, how I write – everything’s structured differently.

“It’s still storytelling, it’s still Island Pop and it’s still happy music that I make. Everything is more produced and stripped down to organic sounds. You got guitars, pianos, keyboards – not so much of the processed instruments like I had before. I hope you guys really take it in and love what’s going on.”

“Not really,” replies IYAZ, who has worked with some of the biggest names in pop including Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Big Time Rush and David Guetta, when asked if he feels under pressure to replicate the amazing success of his debut album.

“At the end of the day, I didn’t get into this to try to be the best at what I do; I got into it because I just wanted everybody worldwide to hear my music. So I said, ‘What better way for me to do that than with albums?’ I’m privileged now to give you guys a second album, so I hope you enjoy it because I had a real fun time making it.”

The popular musician divides his time between Orlando, Florida and Los Angeles, California and tries to go home to the Islands as often as he can. I was curious to learn more about the British Virgin Islands, one of 14 British Overseas Territories.

“Oh man, we’re talking white sand, beautiful beaches,” enthuses IYAZ, singing the praises of his homeland. “You can go up to your neck in the water and still see your toes… beautiful climate, beautiful people. You should definitely try it, man. The food is awesome; everything’s just great down there.”

“Alive,” the new single from IYAZ, is out now and can be downloaded here.

For more information visit the star’s official Facebook page.

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