ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: INZO, Chicago’s Vibrant Visionary

It’s always a great day to discover new music! Thankfully, the electronic music scene is full of eager listeners, constantly searching for new artists to deliver that satisfyingly perfect arrangement of sounds. As most music aficionados would agree, the best way to grab our attention is by presenting a fresh and unique style. As we reflect on this year’s music discoveries, scrolling through our Spotify and Soundcloud wrap-ups, we might find that one or two artists didn’t just catch our attention, they rocked our fricken world, like INZO.

Currently rocking the EDM world is the ever-so-talented, yet humble producer, INZO. The 26-year-old, Chicago based artist took everything we knew about electronic music and shattered it to pieces. He blew our minds, tugged at our emotions, and effortlessly reinvented the definition of future bass. In July of 2018, INZO released the masterpiece, “Overthinker.” Almost a year and a half later, the song has racked up over 7.5 million plays on Spotify and continues to grow rapidly every day. While that gives you an idea of its popularity, it certainly does not portray the enormous, loving and overwhelming feedback from listeners all over the world.

“Overthinker” is not just another catchy song. It’ll make you want to dance, it’ll make you want to cry, and it might just make you tattoo INZO’s name on your forehead, if you’re into that. If you haven’t heard “Overthinker” yet, I highly suggest you make yourself familiar with not only that, but his entire discography! Close your eyes, put those headphones on, and enjoy the insanely top-tier production of your metaphysical journey through INZO’s music. You might just find yourself floating into space..

Inzo
Captured by uglysteffy

I recently had the privilege of sitting down with INZO (Mike Inzano) to chat about his creative vision, experiences so far, and future endeavors as an artist. Stick around if you’d like to get to know the mind behind the music!

Nicole: Alright, Mike! Let’s get right into this.

It seems that you have not tied yourself down to making one specific genre. While there is a clear emphasis on future bass, you have some heavier, funkier, melodic and experimental tracks as well. Your Spotify bio reads “I dabble in most electronic genres. Mostly just trying to make something beautiful.” Although your songs can be categorized differently, they all incorporate those special INZO elements of sound. How would you describe the atmosphere you hope to convey through your music? What do you want people to feel?

INZO: Maaan, it’s so hard to talk about this. It’s just like this idea that I’ve never tried to put into words. I will do my best to translate it. I always hope my music gives people something along the lines of chills and/or a feeling of euphoria. Something that can make someone cry of happiness, or sadness, without even really knowing why. I would just like for them to feel anything that, I guess, just makes them feel SOMETHING. I know it seems stupid and so simple, but I think feeling anything from a melody is significant. As long as that feeling is intense, I’ve done my job. For me personally, my songs come from a place of intense sadness or happiness. So, hopefully people can feel that translated from me and pick up on that themselves. 

Nicole: I really love that you want to connect with peoples’ emotions. Using your talent to bring people together and not just to make party bangers is super respectable. So wholesome. Based on what I’ve seen, I think your fans have really found a safe emotional space in your music. So you’re fulfilling your purpose, that’s for sure. Music and emotions are always so difficult to verbalize, aren’t they? Can you try and verbalize the atmosphere that you want to create within your songs?

INZO: Hmm, so actually it is 23% of Earth’s atmosphere… 

Inzo
Captured by tommymel7

Nicole: Ha! Please, go on.

INZO: I’m just kidding. So, if we’re talking about the “atmosphere,” of my music, I tend to think of the visual elements that tie in with that. Think of the natural aspects of life as a whole, you know, like earth wind and fire. I like to combine those earthy, green elements of life with the contrast of the vastness of space. Nature and space. I like to put the two together to really embody the perspective of life as a whole. Incorporating the color purple is also a big part of my vision.

Nicole: Even though we are talking purely imagery right now, I can definitely hear the essence of nature combined with massive, spacey elements in your songs. That’s a great description. Also, purple! I tend to think of purple as a calming, spiritual color. 

INZO: Oh yeah, there are so many positive associations to make with the color purple. Aside from it being an appealing color to me, I think of it as a way to set the tone for my music. The purple hue is a great contribution to the atmosphere I’m going for.

Nicole: It’s cool to see that you’ve stuck with the purple vibe, even all the way back in your 2015 and 2016 cover art. Ahhh, 2015 baby INZO. Feels like forever ago. So, since the beginning of your career, how long would you say it’s taken you to develop your true artist vision and identity? Do you see yourself sticking with this for the long haul? 

INZO: I’d say it’s taken about 2-3 years for me to really figure out what I wanted to do in all facets– the sound, the vision, all of it. I think now more than ever, I’ve been sticking to a lot of similar elements in my songs. I think it’ll always be changing and evolving, just not as drastically as it already has. There was a significant change in my sound from the first year to the third year. Basically, those were the years of figuring myself out. I’ll continue to change while staying true to the core that I have found in the last year and a half or two years of doing this.

INZO

Nicole: I agree, everything is and always will be changing! If it’s not, that’s not growth. It’s nice to hear that that can be achieved while sticking to your roots as well.

Now, let’s talk about your hottest track! Bet you saw that one coming. When you look at the immense success and overwhelming feedback of your song “Overthinker” do you feel that it puts pressure on you to continue producing more synth-y, philosophical, future bass tracks with a similar sound? In other words, does it make you nervous to release other styles because of how many people discovered you through “Overthinker?”

INZO: Yes and yes. Honestly, yes. Unfortunately too. It’s sad that I feel pressure because at the end of the day, this isn’t about giving into the pressure of other people. It should be about my own art and my project, you know? But at the same time, we’re human and it’s hard not to feel that. There’s this saying that’s like, if you’re a chef you’re only as good as your last meal. If you’re a baseball player you’re as good as your last bat. Some people might say you’re only as good as your last song. It sounds ridiculous to say, but it’s a human thing to feel that pressure. I really wish it wasn’t like that. I really try to find that happy medium and do what I want. I think now more than ever, I am just doing what I want. But also, if we’re talking about Alan Watts speech, I DO like to include that. I still enjoy working Alan Watts into my songs and that individually is not a pressure thing at all. I find a remedy with his work in my personal life.

Nicole: How about in terms of the genre, would you say you’ve ever wanted to start an idea but stop for a moment and wonder, “Would the people who like ‘Overthinker’ like this?” 

INZO: Ah, yes. I’m ashamed to admit it, but yes.

Nicole: You don’t have to be ashamed to admit it! I would say it’s a common worry amongst artists, especially up and comers. The great thing about EDM is that many people have more than one favorite genre!

INZO: Yes, of course. Also, I personally like everything in terms of genre. So I would hope that maybe my listeners will too. If they don’t, that’s fine. I don’t have to be anyone’s favorite, or whatever. If they like one or two songs, that’s cool.

INZO

Nicole: Yeah, and I think you’ve done a really good job of staying true to yourself and putting out a variety of songs following “Overthinker.” I mean, your EP “Multiverse” is a prime example of that. There’s truly a little bit of everything in that EP. I mean, seriously. Play the funky, bouncy song, “Let it Slide” right after “Hellavudrug” aka DUBSTEP. Like, damn. We love a jack of all trades.

INZO: Haha, absolutely. And here’s a little inside scoop- moving forward, I will be doing much more melodic stuff in the near future.

Nicole: Oooh, and does that include the “cinematic” songs you’ve talked about on Twitter?

INZO: Yes. Very much so.

Nicole: I’m excited to see you show that side of you more. Even though you’ve given us a taste of that sound already. I’m thinking of the intro to “Spectrum.” So dreamy.

INZO: I’m excited too. Making ambient, cinematic sounding music comes very naturally to me. Honestly, a personal goal of mine is to score movies one day. It does make me a tad nervous to show that side of my music more, but it’s been in the works for awhile and it’s something I’m proud of. I think it’s something people can really get lost in and enjoy.

Nicole: Since I’ve had the pleasure of hearing some of these unreleased tunes, I can confirm that they are indeed something to be proud of. No need to be nervous at all.

Speaking of nerves, let’s talk about being on stage. You have been added to several tours in a pretty short amount of time. I’m sure it’s been a lot to take in and get accustomed to as your fanbase has grown and crowds have gotten larger! How would you describe your current comfort level with playing shows in comparison to how you felt a couple years ago?

INZO: I used to think I would always be nervous. I used to get the shakes really badly before shows. After touring more regularly now, there’s definitely less of that. The nerves have significantly subsided, although they’re always still there.

Nicole: It’s interesting to think about how the more you play, the more you practice. That should make it feel easier over time. At the same time, the more you play, the more you grow. The more you grow, the more people are there to see you and expect you to perform well. So, in a way, you have these two contradictory aspects going on.

INZO: That is very true. That’s a very good point, and I’ve definitely thought about that. However, I sometimes have a hard time realizing people are actually there to see me until the show’s over. So there’s a benefit of my ignorance.

Aragon Ballroom Chicago Overthinker
Captured by lvrrytry

Nicole: Oh my God, Mike. That’s so funny to hear when it seems obvious that you’re a big reason for a sold out show! Outsider’s perspective.

INZO: Well, you know, I usually play with some other artists. So, I’m always modestly thinking that most of the crowd is there to see another artist or something. Well, it’s not modest to say you’re modest, is it? Anyway, I genuinely convince myself of that. It definitely takes the pressure off. BUT, at the same time, whenever I am aware that someone is there to see me, it can make me feel more comfortable. It’s like ‘Oh, you’re here to see MY music. I don’t have to play bangers, or whatever, to appeal to a crowd that might be there for someone else that wants to hear that.’ Another weird, contradictory concept, I guess.

Nicole: Yeah, I completely get that. There seems to be a lot of emotions happening at once, honestly. 

INZO: Yeah, exactly. Off the record–(HA) That’s why having a drink before sometimes helps me not think so much about that because it really can be destructive.

Nicole: IS that “off the record?” It’s just a drink, Mike. We know you’re not an alcoholic.

INZO: Alright. Fine, fine. Yeah, put it in, that’s cool. Then FOR the record, I really only do 1-2 drinks before I play.

Nicole: We believe you.

INZO: Haha, “We.” You and Electric Hawk.

Nicole: Shhh. 

INZO
Captured by enterrupt_studios

Nicole: Anyway, after playing so many shows with other artists, I’m sure you’ve made a lot of meaningful connections along the way. What is some of the best advice you’ve been given, and from who?

INZO: LSDREAM and I actually had a really good dinner conversation recently. The main take away was that it’s okay to feel confident and take pride in yourself. You know, with me being relatively insecure sometimes, this was significant to hear. He was talking about getting caught up in insecurity and how self destructive it can be. It feels a little cheesy to say, but overthinking can really have you stumped in the creative process. He was telling me that as soon as he was comfortable with himself and 100% genuine going forward with his project, he was overflowing with creative ideas. It’s a very freeing feeling. On top of this, he emphasized how important it is to let the small stuff go. It’s harmful to dwell on mishaps, especially the ones that are out of your control. It’s never the end of the world. Relax, trust your gut, trust the process, and remember that it’s okay to be proud of yourself. 

Nicole: LSDREAM speaks the truth. What a great friend and mentor to have around. You will get there one day.

INZO: This is all great talk, and of course, it’s common sense. I think the hardest part about it is sustainability, maintaining that confidence and creating good habits.

Oh also, LSDREAM said to always have my visuals in dxv3 format, because every VJ will love me, apparently.

Nicole: Cool, I’ll put that in for the fellow DJ’s.

LSDream
Captured by Christianwhundley

As we’re wrapping it up here for the interview and also for the year of 2019, I think it’s time to talk about what’s next for you. 

INZO: For sure. I’m planning on having my second EP released in 2020. If it turns out to develop faster and better than I planned, and depending on how they flow, then it’ll be an album. So far, there will be at least 6 songs on there. I will probably do a single release from the EP that comes out sooner. I also have a handful of collaborations on deck with Align and Blookah. 

Nicole: Can I ask for a more specific estimate of time for these releases? What are you shooting for?

INZO: So, I’m thinking of releasing the single between spring and summer, and the whole EP/album between summer and fall. I know that seems like a long time from now, but that’s because.. I’m trying to curate my own tour for the fall of 2020. 

Nicole: Wow, yay! Congrats, Mike! I’m sure you’ll be putting in a crazy amount of work between now and then, especially with visuals and all that.

INZO: Definitely. When possible, I’d love my visuals to be curated to a T with every beat, every note, every aspect of the music during my shows. I would do things my own way and be involved as much as possible, incorporating that visual blend of nature and space that we talked about earlier. I want to create an experience that is more than just the music. I want to take everyone on a journey at my shows.

Nicole: And that you will! I can’t wait to see what you do with your own tour. We all know you are capable of so much. The INZO movement is about to be groundbreaking. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me!

INZO: Thanks, Nicole. It’s been fun!

Ascension Tour Liquid Stranger
Ascension Tour with Liquid Stranger in Spring 2020

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