“Math-rock precision and R&B passion merge… a hint of Hendrix behind a breathy, androgynous vocal that doesn’t mince words” – Jon Pareles, The New York Times
Today, guitarist, soul singer, and producer Naia Izumi shares the new track and video “Natural Disaster” from his major label debut album, A Residency in the Los Angeles Area, out July 30 (Sony Music Masterworks) and available now for preorder.
Watch the “Natural Disaster” video here and check out the first single/video “Voodoo,” featured on a recent episode of NPR All Songs Considered. On “Natural Disaster,” Naia’s fingers glide along the fretboard as hypnotic harmonies take hold before a searing solo. “It’s about the randomness of life,” he says. “You could lose everything in one swoop without even realizing it. There’s no reason to take anything personally. If you don’t embrace the randomness of life, you’re going to be destroyed.”
In 2018, Naia won NPR’s prestigious Tiny Desk Contest with his honey-drip-of-soul songwriting and virtuosic two-hand tapping guitar style, described by Flood as “unparalleled,” Guitar World has described him as “spellbindingly talented.”
“I make music I’m not hearing,” says Naia, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 16. Developing a fascination with the guitar at an early age, Naia’s imitable sound is the result of both a lifelong study and single-minded dedication, the musician playing for hours on end and losing himself in the instrument.
“That was my purpose as a kid. I tried to get better and better, so I could make what I was hearing in my head. I’m just the average dude who’s just trying to do the best he can. I’m learning to control what I want to say with the vibe, the music, and the words. If it connects to you in some way, I’m a happy person.”
Naia speaks through this music as if the sound flows through him. He’s already racking up millions of streams and acclaim from NPR, The New York Times, Paste, The Washington Post, Guitar World, American Songwriter and more, all before the release of his debut full-length.
After dropping out of high school to join the Job Corps and spending five years as an electrician, Naia decided to pursue his dream full force. Taking to busking, he played hundreds of gigs and would often carry his equipment for miles just so he could perform. Naia eventually landed in Los Angeles, busking all day to get by and independently releasing his music before winning the NPR Tiny Desk Contest in 2018 with “Soft Spoken” and signing a major label deal.
Along the way, he collaborated on A Residency in the Los Angeles Area with producer Tony Berg [Peter Gabriel, Phoebe Bridgers] at Sound City Studios, performing vocals, guitar, bass, drums, Japanese Koto, mandolin, cittern, and more on the record. From the simmering funk beat of “Honesty” to the searing solo performance on “Natural Disaster,” the smoky wah of “Six Inch Stilettos,” and the lushly hypnotic melodies on “Good At Being Lonely,” the album showcases Naia’s artistry on every level. A subtle homage to his adopted home base, A Residency in the Los Angeles Area represents the union of practice and magic, technique and spirit, intense thought and unrestrained emotion.
“Undeniable talent and charismatic personality” – NPR
“Proving that the magic of music can be delivered simply and very powerfully” – GRAMMY.com
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