Guitarist, drummer, bassist, singer-songwriter and producer NAIA IZUMI today announces the release of his major label debut album A RESIDENCY IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA, out Friday, July 30 via Sony Music Masterworks – preorder here. Making its debut alongside album preorder is lead single “Voodoo,” a time signature-jumping groove that weaves a dizzying guitar riff around a jazzy beat and Naia’s soulful vocals – watch here.
Having won NPR’s prestigious Tiny Desk Contest in 2018, Naia just returned to the program to perform the new single and his contest-winning track “Soft Spoken” as part of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest Family Hour 2021 livestream event celebrating past winners of the prestigious contest – watch here.
“Sometimes, I don’t want to feel lonely, so I’ll write a song to put me in a different place,” explains Naia of the track. “With ‘Voodoo,’ I imagined how it would feel if I found the person who fits me so well. It would be disorienting. There’s almost a seductive and enchanting quality to the song. I wanted to replicate the vibe of falling in love.”
“Voodoo” arrives today as the introduction to Naia’s forthcoming debut album A Residency in the Los Angeles Area and is indicative of the unique soundscape encapsulated by the 13-track collection. Overlaying virtuosic two-hand tapping, eloquent phrasing, and time-warping tremolo upon a slow-honey drip of soul, Naia speaks through his music as if the sound flows through him. It’s a sound that has continued to fall on receptive ears, with Naia already racking up millions of streams and acclaim from NPR, The New York Times, Paste Magazine, The Washington Post, Guitar World, American Songwriter and more, all before the release of his debut full-length.
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. Diagnosed with autism at the age of 16, he began recognizing his issues with social interaction, eye contact, and body language, reading countless books to address and alleviate any obstacles. 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 making his breakout win at NPR’s highly-coveted Tiny Desk Contest in 2018 with “Soft Spoken” and signing a major label deal with Sony Music Masterworks.
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.
“I make music I’m not hearing,” Naia observes. “That was my purpose as a kid. I heard pieces of things, but it wasn’t what I really wanted to hear. 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.” Ultimately, A Residency in the Los Angeles Area represents this notion in its fullest form, with Naia translating something never before heard but much needed on his debut.
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