Inside Bazzi’s Dreamworld
The singer welcomes VMAN into his world as he talks about songwriting, his relationship with his fans, and his newest album, “Infinite Dream.”
Allow Bazzi to reintroduce himself.
It’s been three years since the genre-bending pop powerhouse dropped his sophomore album, Soul Searching, and a lot has changed, from a global pandemic to an unfolding series of emotional highs and lows. Through it all, Bazzi clung steadfastly to his music, using his craft as a way to stay grounded and, ironically, aid in some much-needed soul searching.
The amalgamation of this search is Infinite Dream, his deeply personal third studio album. “Making this album saved my life,” Bazzi wrote in a letter to his fans on Twitter. “Making music is the only navigation I’ve had so far to bring me back to any sort of control or equilibrium.”
In many ways, Infinite Dream is an invitation inside Bazzi’s mind, as he wrestles with the joys of fantasy and the pains of reality. The album exists on a spectrum, slipping in and out of musical genres and subverting lyrical boundaries to create one big lucid dream.
“For me, what’s really exciting about this album is that it’s kind of like a collection of everything I’ve ever loved put into one,” Bazzi told VMAN. “I think as I evolve personally, the eclectic tastes of the music evolve at the same time.”
VMAN caught up with the singer to talk about his songwriting process, his unique relationship with his fans, and the pressure behind making hit songs.
VMAN: Congrats on the new album. Can you explain the meaning behind the title?
Bazzi: I’m slightly hesitant to give my perspective because I do believe that when making art, you know, part of it is letting people decide what they think it means. But, my book cover answer would be that sonically, the album is structured like a dream. In a dream, one thing can happen, and then the next minute it’s completely different, but it makes sense in the context of the dream. I think the album kind of operates like that.
VMAN: Do you have a favorite song on the new album, or one that resonates with you the most?
Bazzi: You know, usually, I would always say no to that and say some answer like, ‘You know, they all have their own little portion of my heart.’ But this time, I really do have a favorite song, at least right now. It’s “Lost In The Simulation.” I’ve just never heard a song like that, and I’ve never felt a feeling like that inside of a record. I think it combines genres, and for me as a producer it was an achievement to make a song feel that way. I’m very, very proud of that record, and very excited to play live this fall, too.
VMAN: I feel like this album is very unique sonically. What were the major influences?
Bazzi: You know, it wasn’t influenced by one major thing, really. This album is inspired by the last, like, 50 years of music all clumped in together into this insane thing. It’s got inspiration in there from The Stones, to The Smiths, to Depeche Mode, to The Eagles. And it goes from more classic rock to like, new wave electro pop, with electric basses and drums. I think it even feels rhythmically kind of like Kanye.
VMAN: A lot of the songs feel really personal. How do you get in that headspace where you let yourself be vulnerable or a bit more introspective when you’re writing?
Bazzi: I never get into that headspace intentionally. The really personal songs kind of come out by force. Like, I’m so overwhelmed with feelings or with a certain thought that going into the studio and saying some of the stuff I say in the songs is, like, legitimately the only way that I could clear it out of my system. A lot of the really personal songs are just written on my piano downstairs over a voice note. It’s funny, some of these voice notes, you hear me start crying or being kind of shocked at some of these words are coming out of me. You know, it’s a crazy form of release. And I’m really blessed to have music to help me articulate it.
VMAN: So what do your songwriting and production processes usually look like?
Bazzi: I’ve made every song I’ve ever put out with a guy named Kevin White. The process always starts with us and with the same intention of excitement. It can be a chord, or a drum pattern, or a lyric that’s in my head, or some initial heartbeat of the song. If you saw me and Kevin work, it’s like two kids bouncing around the room, painting and coloring the outlines of the picture that we’re drawing. Most of the time, whatever happens in that initial day is pretty much like 80 percent of what the song sounds like.
VMAN: Oh, wow. So it’s usually pretty quick, then?
Bazzi: It can be. A song like “Miss America,” we made in 12 hours and never touched it again. And then I have songs like “Lost In The Simulation” that took us months to mix and make it feel the way we wanted it to.
VMAN: You wrote online that as an artist, you feel a responsibility to be fearless. Can you explain what you meant by that?
Bazzi: I feel a responsibility to push myself creatively. I mean, so many artists get caught up just trying to make the same song and continue doing the same things over and over again. I feel a responsibility to continue pushing it and continue seeing what I can do inside my ability. If I didn’t really care about this that much, I would just go make fucking trap beats and sing over them. But I have a passion inside of me. I care about music and I care about making a song that might inspire some kid to go do something different or something impactful.
VMAN: I know you’ve had quite a few hits, but “Mine” really just blew up. Do you ever feel pressure to recreate that or hit those same metrics again?
Bazzi: I try not to. I think I have a good perspective on like, why I’m putting out the music that I am. But I do think subliminally and subconsciously there is some sort of pressure there. Do I let it affect me or do I put any kind of importance towards it? Nah. I really have my priorities straight creatively, and I’m a believer in just making good things. Controlling what you can control, you know?
VMAN: Do you think you’ve always had that, or has that come with experience?
Bazzi: You know what, I think I have always had that. When I was a broke kid living and Ubering around L.A., the idea of success was like, a necessity in a way. But my intentions have always been to just make cool stuff that I think my friends would be proud of and that I’d be proud of. I think with anything in life, having a simple approach is really the best way to present things.
VMAN: A month or so ago, I saw one of your TikTok’s where you had kept some Polaroids in your wallet of you with some fans. How would you describe your relationship with your fans?
Bazzi: I don’t know if my relationship with my fans is as digital as it is with other artists. I really feel the love from the people who are into my music when I see them in person, and when I go play a show when or when I really get to talk to them. A lot of times, they tell me stories about certain lyrics or lines that have gotten them through certain things. I think for me, the internet is such a tough place to share any real emotion. Like, I’m not a robot, I’m a human being. And to me, you know, things make the most sense in person, when I can really understand or share something with someone. My fans are on the same page with that whole thing. They’re just cool and respectful.
VMAN: I guess that kind of leads into my next question. What are you most looking forward to about your upcoming tour?
Bazzi: Man, it’s a multitude of things. One, I’ve been looking at a screen for the past two and a half years while putting out music, and you simply can’t feel what it means or the significance of it by looking at numbers on the screen. It just doesn’t connect that way. So, I think in general, getting to play these new songs and really feeling how they affect people and getting to share that moment with them. I’m also excited to share all the production I’ve put into the show. I feel like you could come to this concert and not know a single song of mine and still enjoy it. I just can’t wait to just connect with real human beings and see people again.
VMAN: Do you have any rituals before you perform?
Bazzi: I’m kind of a boring guy before I go on. I have buddies who get drunk and stuff before shows, and I don’t know, man, I guess I’ve made a habit of being straight edge before I get on the stage. Then I get off and I absolutely destroy myself. But, it’s a personal thing for me. I respect people’s time. I respect their choice to come trust me for a night, and I don’t take that lightly.