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What I Learned at Bandcamp: Haze

Haze, Bandcamp, interview, Phoenix

Haze, a Phoenix native, began playing saxophone at the age of 6 and by age 8 was performing in venues around the state. As his love for saxophone grew, so did his love for hip-hop music. In October, Haze released his debut EP, Smooth Ascension.

The album is four tracks of “saxy rap” and is available to download or stream on Bandcamp.

Below, read The Spec‘s interview with Haze and listen to a track from the EP…

Tell us a little about yourself…
My real name is Matt Hayes, and I guess you could say that I’m a pretty friendly guy. I’m not out here trying to claim that I’m the best at anything, I just play my saxophone and rap and people seem to respond extremely well. I really just enjoy making music that makes people feel happy and super duper fresh. I’ve been playing the saxophone since I was 6 years old, and the music I make is called Saxy-Rap. Besides this music thing, I’m also an Uber driver on the side.

How long have you been making music?
I started learning how to play the saxophone when I was 6, and the first time I ever performed live was when I was only 8 years old at the Rhythm Room in downtown Phoenix. I started actually recording and performing original music when I was 16, however, the Smooth Ascension EP that I dropped earlier this month is the first actual project I’ve ever released to date.

Who/what are your influences?
My mom was my biggest influence. I got my grooviness from her. She didn’t play any instruments, but she was the one who really got me passionate about music from a young age. Also, she was the one who urged me to learn how to play the saxophone in the first place. My dad is also a big influence for me. He is one of the most loving and hardest working people I know. Not to mention he has some pretty great dance moves. That’s where I got my sweet dance moves from for sure. My musical influences range from people like Al Green and Sam Cooke, all the way to Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. I grew up playing jazz music, covering songs like “Mr. Magic” by Grover Washington Jr.. So, in this respect, I had a lot of jazz influence. To this day, I still listen to jazz greats like Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker. Eventually, I developed an ear for hip-hop music and fell in love with it. This is always a hard question to answer, but I guess if I had to choose my biggest influences in hip-hop I would have to say KRS One, G.U.R.U., Nas and Andre 3000. I know I’m leaving some out, but when I heard these guys for my first time it changed everything for me. Especially growing up in a white middle class family that didn’t necessarily want me listening to rap music in the first place.

What is your favorite song you’ve released and why?
The song I hold closest to my heart is called “Nothing In Return.” I released a music video for it as the single for my debut EP Smooth Ascension and it was truly a magical experience. The song deals with the concept of unconditional love and how real love expects nothing in return. Sure, I need to eat and pay bills just like the next man, but that’s not why I originally got into this whole music thing. I continued playing music from a young age because I could feel it in my heart that this is what I’m meant to do. I make music simply for the love of making music. Not for the flashy cars, women, or fame. I play this song at the end of all my live performances and I almost always have people come up and explain how special it is to them, how it changed their perspective on things. As an artist, that’s the best compliment you can receive.

Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here?
I would like to manifest the proper amount of funding to tour all over the country. I love my AZ hip-hop family, but I need to spread my message to more people. To me, performing live is my favorite thing to do. So, I would love to be able to travel around the country and play my music for people of all different walks of life. My next project will be called Busted Compass, which delves into the concept of infinite possibilities. So, to be honest, I’m not sure exactly what is next. But, I know that I’m excited. All that I can really do is continue to push my music, expand on what I already have, and continue to have confidence in my craft.

If you could no longer be a musician, what would you be or do for a living?
That’s honestly really scary to think about. I just love music and have to be able to unleash all of my creative energy or I go crazy. If I really couldn’t play music any more, I’d probably try to teach myself how to paint. I also think it would be pretty cool to be a kayak instructor at some beautiful national park. Either way, I would still have to have some type of creative outlet.

What musicians or bands do you look up to?
Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine. KRS One. G.U.R.U. of Gang Starr. Immortal Technique. Chuck D of Public Enemy. DJ Kool Herc. DJ Premier. Dilla. Pete Rock. Nas. Murs. Slug of Atmosphere. Andre 3000. Son Ra. Bob Marley. Damien Marley. Q-Tip. Sonny Rollins. Ab-Soul. Issac Hayes. Al Green. Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. Every member of Pink Floyd. Every member of the Wu-Tang Clan… the list goes on. I’m positive I’m forgetting certain people, but you get the idea.

Why do you make music?
I make music because I would go crazy if I didn’t. I have so much creative energy in my soul it needs to be unleashed on a daily basis. If I don’t at least listen to good music for one day I start to physically feel off. It’s crazy, but true. The thing that made me decide to actually start taking music seriously as a career path was when my mother passed away. I was 17 years old when my mother took her own life away. It was then, when I realized that it was my duty to continue to pursue music like she would’ve wanted me to. I realized at that moment that I have a moral obligation to sing songs of redemption for people who have gone through similar tragedies. It’s not just the music; it’s the life force. Being creative is being divine. We all have a little bit of God in us, so that’s why it’s our job to create.

Anything else you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about?
You can stream the album on Spotify by searching for Smooth Ascension by Haze. And check me out on Facebook so you can stay up to date on all of my live shows and future projects. Stay Blessed!

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