Ixchel Mazer digs deep into all things Savoy
By Ixchel Mazer
First off, your new single is great! Let’s take it back to the old school, who are some of your biggest influences from the 1980s? Thank you. My biggest influences from the 80’s would probably have to be Michael Jackson & Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Queen, Sting & the Police. I know I’m forgetting other people as well. I love how they had their own unique sound.
We know you love music before 1983. Why 1983? (Laughs) Me saying that might have been a bit extreme. The reason I said that, and It’s going to sound crazy, is because Michael Jackson released the Thriller album in November of ’82. I feel like after that it’s been impossible to touch that musical bar that him and Quincy Jones set. Don’t get me wrong, I love others that have come out since then, but to me that was the peak.
There has been a recent surge of popularity in ‘trap symphonies’. What would get you to say yes to a ‘trap symphony’ project? I don’t know. Nothing against trap music and trap symphonies, but I don’t know that I would do well in that space. There’s a lane that I’m trying to create and it’s different than that space, so for now I’m going to stick to what I do best. At the same time, you can never say never.
What are some quintessential Los Angeles hot spots you would like to perform at? There are so many places. Off the top of my head, I’d say I would love to perform at Sayers Lounge, the El Rey Theatre, the Wiltern, the Palladium, the Greek Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Forum.
You’ve released only a few tracks recently. What are your goals for 2016? My goal this year is to put myself on the musical map. I spent a lot of time last year working behind the scenes to get things ready for this year. I’m going to be releasing music, performing, and I also have a ‘Savoy Ellis’ App I’m releasing this year as well. So I have a lot on my plate this year and I’m excited to see people’s response to what I’m going to do.
People have been hoping for a resurgence of singers putting out works heavily influenced by rap, instead of the opposite. Would you like to contribute to this? You know I never thought about it before in those terms. There is so much crossover between the genres that sometimes the line is hard to see. I want to contribute to the innovation of the R&B/Soul genre. If being heavily influenced by rap ends up being a part of that then I’m open to it.
What will make you prosper in the field of entertainment? What is your je ne sais quoi? I think what will make me prosper in entertainment is my desire and my ear. I hear music differently. When I’m really feeling a song, I can see it. Music is truly a part of me. Since I was a baby, my family would tell me about how I would react when I would hear music. I’ve been singing all my life. Music is as much a part of me as one of my limbs. With that desire, I’ve studied music all the way back to its beginning stages in America and there still is so much more I’m learning every day. That same desire leads me to not just wanting to release music for the sake of it or sounding like everybody else, it leads me to push to try to find a new sound. A new way to push not just the R&B/Soul genre but music as a whole. I haven’t found that sound yet, but I won’t stop until I find it and perfect it.
Your love story is one for the ages. It takes a lot to find true love in the club, do you ever feel the need to put out tracks that inspire others to have the same experience? I’m all about love and I understand that everyone’s story is going to be different. So I definitely want to put out music that inspires people to have the same experience as. Not just finding love in the club, but finding real love how and wherever love ends up finding them.
2015 was a big year, and I know you’ve done some songwriting in the past, but is this something you would like to continue doing for other artists? I do want to continue writing for other artist and for right now I had to put that on the back burner. I want to take this time to really push my music as a solo artist. Once I’ve really got to where I want to be, I will take a step back from that and get back into primarily writing for other artist.
Where does Savoy Ellis come from and what does it mean? I’m a huge Jazz fan. I got the name Savoy from the old Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. It was one of the hallmark locations in Jazz in its heyday. I just loved the name and the history behind it and adopted it.
Your fans know you are fairly strong in your Christian beliefs. How does this affect your music? It affects my music in that my beliefs are my compass. It guides me. It’s one of the big reasons I’m all about love. So even though my music isn’t “gospel”, I believe God is in everything I’m doing and hopefully that comes across, either directly or indirectly. I hope people can feel that. I believe God is love, so I want to sing about it.
Some people bring in friends and booze; others prohibit any acoustic guitars. Do you have any traditions while you’re in the studio recording? I really only have two. The first one is I want the lights low in the whole studio and I don’t want any lights on in the booth when I record, just enough light for me to see my lyrics but I try to memorize all my songs before I record. I feel like it just sets a vibe and mood for me with the lights are off and that it allows me to be in my own world. The second one is no smoking. It’s never really been my thing and smoke just irritates my voice. And since that’s my instrument we can’t have that (laugh). Outside of that, I want things to be loose but focused. Let’s have fun, let’s vibe, but let’s get work done as well.
2 am is the time of night when your genius emerges. They say only true artists are inspired to stay up and work that late. What’s the best thing about working that late? I feel like at that time of night, everything slows down and gets quiet and I can truly hear all the ideas running through my head. It’s easier for me to get lost in what I’m doing and there’s less distractions. The later it gets, it really feels like something clicks in my head and I work better. I’d venture to say that 75-80% of my ideas come after midnight.
What drives you in this industry? A few things… I want to make a difference, in music and the world around me. I feel like music has the ability to heal and I want to be a part of that healing process. On top of that, I have a million ideas running through my head. And I’m not trying to be cliché when I say music truly is always on my mind. I even keep a note pad next to my bed because sometimes I dream full on songs and when I wake up I got scramble and write the song down before I forget. So I want to share those songs with the world. I want to be a part of peoples everyday lives and touch them. Also, and this is no shade to any current artist, but I feel like music has taken a step backwards. The artistry, musicianship, and innovations that made music have that magic is largely missing. And I want to be part of the movement to bring that back.
What mark do you want to leave in the music world? I want to be known as one of the greats, as both a singer and songwriter. I want people to remember me as someone who changed r&b/soul music and pushed the industry as a whole in a new direction. My hope is that people were touched and affected by my music and I was able to add something positive to their lives.