Fish sleep too. That's the description one could read on Sleepy Fish - one of the most consistent and popular producers in the chillhop / lofi hip hop beat scene in the past couple of years. I discovered the Pennsylvania-based producer thanks to our friends at Chillhop Music when he first released his 2019 full-length album My Room Becomes The Sea.
Besides his laid-back beats and the fact that he's one of the few producers who sings, I became fascinated with the art and visual storytelling and I wanted to invite him as our 100th mix guest. I hope you enjoy our chat and find out more about Izzi and his world.
- coa - thin air
- Rain Dog - In Your Arms
- liminal - chimera
- Azeda Booth - Kensington
- Melaina Kol - Green
- Gud - hold this 4 me
- Akron/Family - Shoes
- Bijou - Naaiv.
- empire empire! (i was a lonely estate) - How to Make Love Stay
- Kareem Lofty - Fr3sh
- Oyeme - Rema
- Plastic Daydream - So Long, Farewell
- r beny - Pale Fire
Hi Izzi, tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! I am a student in the US currently studying statistics, data science and machine learning. When I'm not programming I love making lofi stuff and other music things in my spare time.
What's the most random fact about you?
I used to do generative art using Python in the program Processing! I kinda miss it, definitely been thinking about getting back into it at some point.
Where does sleepy fish come from, where does your fascination with the underwater world comes from?
It came from a conversation with my mom! I said "sleepy fish" in some sentence and ended up writing it down in my phone as a nice sounding name. A couple of years later the time came to give this alias a name so I just ran with it, as I thought it fit pretty well.
How would you describe your mix in a sentence?
It's a mix of indie/emo and ambient stuff that I really love!
Your music has been streamed by millions, do people around you in your daily life know about your success and how far your music has traveled?
Haha, not really! My parents and close friends do but that's about it. Because the alias is so focused on the art, no fan that I'd ever meet would recognize me which is how I'd like to keep it, mainly because the art is so insanely good. Almost like a virtual persona similar to Gorillaz or something.
What would be your ideal setting for listening to your music?
Relaxing and studying, haha. I think the newer stuff I've been working on will be a bit more active listening so I'm excited about that.
While you're often labeled as a chillhop producer, you also sing and I absolutely love your voice. Have you ever thought of branching out into other genres?
Thank you so much! I do sing on other songs I make which are different genres, but those I make mostly for myself for fun as they're a bit weirder and more experimental.
Do you think your voice is what makes your music stand out in the instrumental space?
I don't think I stand out at all honestly! I just like to approach beats with more of an indie and ambient attitude rather than a jazz or hiphop approach, as that is more of the music that I listen to and draw influence from.
The vocals are an interesting thing because sometimes I wanna write actual lyrics for the songs but I wonder if it would be a bit too much. I guess we'll see what ends up happening!
It comes off as no surprise that your 3 full-length albums My Rooms Becomes The Sea, Beneath Your Waves and Everything Fades to Blue are all themed around the element of water. The 3 releases are bundled together into a triple LP vinyl release and it makes a wonderful story. Do you imagine the story becoming a movie someday?
Possibly, that would be really neat! I feel like the 3 artworks and animations done by Tristan Gion and Bien à Vous Studio already are their own movie haha, the quality of their work still absolutely blows me away. If it ever ends up being some sort of full-on short film someday, I would be honored to have been apart.
You often (or only) work with Gion Tristan. Tell us about your relationship and how does the creative process behind building Sleepy FIsh's experience look likes.
Honestly, most of the storytelling and conceptual stuff is done by the people at Chillhop! I offer my input of course but really what I'm most focused on is making music. I can do melodies and stuff but not stories so much, haha. I do love watching the process of story building as we get work in progress art back from Tristan and the studio, it's always really exciting.
Often storytelling and art are left behind in favour of the sound (when it comes to musicians). What's their importance when it comes to connecting with fans and building an audience?
I think honestly just the music itself is what is most important! If that is good and it resonates with people, then whatever conceptual or artistic stuff that accompanies it will only enhance it. I just got very lucky with all of this and it's still very surreal to see people enjoying my stuff.
What's the hardest thing you ever had to sacrifice in the name of making music?
This probably isn't the hardest thing, but my one song "Procrastinating" was written the night before my Spanish final in my Junior year of college. I didn't do too good on it, haha... but I am still pretty happy with how that song turned out. I think it was worth it!
How does your favourite day look like?
I am very much a homebody so definitely just staying in, drinking coffee, and making music. Then maybe video games with friends at night.
What's your favourite object and why?
My reusable water bottle. I finally caved recently and got an expensive one that keeps water cold for days and it was the best purchase I've made in so long. I go everywhere with it and definitely have found myself drinking more water after I got it. Would definitely recommend it if you can spare the money!
Do you take naps?
Yes! Since quarantine started I've actually upped my naps from on average one a day to sometimes two to even three naps in a day. I don't sleep too long if they're more frequent though, gotta balance it somehow haha. Napping is definitely a privilege and I'm very thankful I can sleep this much.
You're part of the Chillhop Music family. Tell us about your relationship with the team and how you see the collective and their importance in pushing instrumental music forward.
Chillhop has been with me since the very beginning and I am super thankful for the endless support they have given me. I chat with multiple people on the team on a regular basis and they're all awesome! Honestly, the whole story and art based side of the project was really their idea and it's been an awesome time being along for the ride.
Any last words?
Happy holidays and stay safe! Wash your hands and wear a mask, all that good stuff. Thanks for reading!
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