The 2014 High School Nation (HSN) Tour heads to Sacramento this Friday, September 19. Over the past decade, the music tour has given up-and-coming artists the chance to perform at local middle schools and high schools, as well as providing students free entertainment at a time when school art and music program funding is at an all-time low.
We got the chance to chat with HSN artist and Northern California pop songstress Izzy Malik about her new self-titled EP, her admiration for activist Malala Yousafzai, and why we should all dream big.
1. How would you describe your new self-titled EP to our readers?
I’d say my EP is very dance-in-your-room pop with a lot of rock, country, reggae, and hip-hop influence. I took inspiration from artists of many genres and didn’t want to limit the sound, so you can get a little bit of everything in there, as I enjoy all sorts of music and wanted that to be conveyed to my listeners.
2. Your song, “Malala,” is about Pakistani women’s rights and education activist, Malala Yousufzai – definitely not your typical pop song fodder. Why did you choose to focus on her for your first single?
When I heard Malala’s story on the news, I’d just come home from school as a senior in high school. I found it so totally nuts that someone would have to go through so much to get an education and wanted to bring awareness to the plight of girls who fight for their basic right to an education. The fact that she’s from Pakistan also had a huge impact on me. I still have most of my family there and a house in my childhood neighborhood was bombed. It’s crazy how hard life is there and I thought the more awareness I could bring to this grave injustice, the higher the chance that things could change. Also, I think it’s kind of nice for school-going kids to realize how lucky we are and how one should never take their education for granted. This is the plight of countless Muslim girls in developing countries, and Malala is a shining example and a very strong voice for this cause and I wanted to honor her and show her my support, which she will always have.
3. You often tell your fans to “DREAM BIG.” Is this motto of yours inspired by her life story?
Definitely. When I say “DREAM BIG”, Malala is one of the people I have in mind. When I say that, I’m encouraging the fans to reach for the stars and never let adversity hinder their ambition and drive to achieve their goals and not to let a single individual or organization tell you you’re not good enough or it’s impossible. Anything is possible; it just depends on how hard you are willing to work and how much you believe in your dreams. That’s the deciding factor; it’s in nobody’s hands but your own. You decide your fate and you make your own destiny. Just be persistent and work hard all day, everyday.
4. You grew up in Merced, which isn’t too far from Sacramento. Have you ever visited the Capital City? Any interesting stories from your time here?
I actually went to a Big Time Rush concert here in Sacramento when I was sixteen! It was so cool because I got to meet them and gave them a CD of my music. It was when I was first starting to get into actually recording and they were so sweet and supportive. I had an amazing time and got to see some of the city before and after the concert, which was super cool! I always found their music fun and uplifting, and they also led me to one of my other favorite bands, One Direction! The second single off my EP, “Just Another Boy” is actually dedicated to/inspired by Harry Styles. Basically, that trip to Sac was pretty life-changing.
5. How are you juggling the college grind and pop stardom? (Are you living a double life like Hanna Montana?)
It’s pretty hard managing my time between school and my music, but I think I’m making it work! I’ll be doing online courses from Berkeley and UCLA this semester since I’m touring. My family and friends are super supportive of my career, so I’m really lucky with that!
6. You’ll soon be performing at middle and high schools across the country for the 2014 High School Nation Tour. What advice do you have for tweens and teens interested in entering the music business?
My advice is to keep working at it no matter what. You’re going to get a hundred “no”s before you get one “yes”, and that’s okay, because when people find out how awesome you are, it’ll totally be worth it. You just have to keep working on making yourself better and have a positive attitude. That way, you’ll be able to accomplish anything.
Izzy will share the stage with Drake Bell, Dakota Bradley, Jacob Latimore and others this Friday, September 19 at one lucky Sacramento school (sorry, we can’t reveal the location — it’s a surprise!) For more information about the High School Nation Tour, click here.
***This blog post was written by Sacramento365.com’s Content & Social Media Coordinator, Jamila B. Khan.