New Jersey to L.A. pop-rock songstress Iris meets us at Coffee Commissary in Burbank, CA to discuss her debut single “Crazy,” discovering her voice in her recent solo venture, and her goals for what’s to come in her future releases.
So to start us off, you recently released your debut single, “Crazy.” Wanted to say congratulations!
Iris: Thank you!
Would you like to share with us a little bit about the experience that you had with recording, as well as the story behind the lyrics themselves?
Iris: Yeah! So “Crazy” was actually a song that my friend Malay wrote a long time ago about when he first met his wife. There was a band that he was working with called Dallas, they’re from Texas.
Of course they are. *laughs*
Iris: Yeah right? *laughs* So he was working with them, and when his wife got pregnant, they moved back to Texas and that made him put a hold on music for awhile. He’s such an amazing songwriter and this song particularly stuck out to me when I stopped doing music with the band and I was on my own journey to find my sound as a solo artist. We revisited this song, altered it a little bit to suit me more, like the lyrics since they were about a girl *laughs* as well as the production, but the original premise of the song is still there. The process for me was really special because that song, after I heard it and recorded it, really sparked the direction that I was looking for. I felt like this song was the snowball effect of what’s to come next. This song means so much to me and is so special because it was very much the foundation for where my music is going, so that’s why I wanted to release it first.
It’s a great way to introduce yourself to the world!
So if you had an unlimited budget to do a music video for “Crazy,” what kind of concept would you do?
Iris: I actually did shoot a music video for it. *laughs* Right now it’s being edited and we’re planning to release it soon. Luckily I have some great friends that offered to help, because I really didn’t have a huge budget to do everything that we did for it. I filmed it in Asbury Park in New Jersey. I’m from New Jersey, so that park was really special to me because I was in a ska band in high school, and it was the first time I really got in front of people apart from being in choirs. Now, it was only fitting to introduce myself as a solo artist because that was my first identifying moment with wanting to pursue a career in music. I filmed it at this place called The Grand Arcade on the boardwalk right by the beach. This arcade is so absolutely gorgeous! It was designed by the guy who designed Grand Central Station in New York City, so it’s very art deco but with a few other twists in there. There’s a few bars and restaurants, and there’s a convention center and a theater. Judy Garland performed there years and years ago. It was really cold there because it was during the Polar Vortex, the night we filmed it was like negative fifteen degrees (Fahrenheit) outside.
Holy cannoli! Lucky that you didn’t freeze to death!
Iris: It definitely felt like I was when I was out there. The dress that I had on was not made for cold weather. *both laugh* This building is one of the still privately owned places on the Jersey Shore, and because of that, as well as my friend knowing the owner of the arcade, I was able to rent it for a very fair price. All of my friends in the area helped pitched in to help me put everything together, so the whole thing looks expensive, but luckily it wasn’t. *laughs* A huge thank you to all of my friends helped make this video happen!
Yeah! We’ve got to use those relationships. You never know who will step up to help when you need it.
Iris: Yes, exactly! I’m incredibly grateful. But back to the concept. I feel like “Crazy,” at least to me when I hear it, is about this feeling that you get when you’re with somebody where you kind of lose yourself in the moment. It’s something that’s so overwhelming, and you create this imagery in your head of how things should be or how you imagine yourself as. That’s where my concept of this grand space to mirror grand feelings really came from, because essentially they go hand in hand.
Well we definitely can’t wait to see the finished product!
Iris: Yeah! I’m so excited to put it out there. I get chills just thinking about it. *laughs* I’ve looked back at the footage and it looks really cool.
Awesome! And then when we’re watching it we’ll be like, ‘Oh my God she’s probably freezing her butt off!’ *laughs*
Iris: But really though. *laughs*
Well you’re happy that you defrosted enough to get to see “Crazy” be featured in Santa Clarita Diet.
Iris: Oh my God I’m obsessed! It’s such a good show!
I love Drew Barrymore so much! I just love everything that she does!
Iris: Yes! Me too! She’s always been one of my favorites.
Shout out to Drew! Love you! *both laugh* So if you could provide the soundtrack to a cinematic work, whether it be a tv show or a film, what type of genre and story would you like to tell?
Iris: Oh wow! Hmm, I would probably do a love story, because I’m seriously into rom-coms and it would be so cool to hear my music is one. *laughs* I actually just watched that J-Lo movie called Second Act and it was pretty cute.
I’ll have to check it out! I didn’t get a chance to see it when it was at the theater.
Iris: You’ll love it! It’s adorable! I also didn’t realize that Vanessa Hudgens was in it too. She was a definite plus for the movie. *laughs* There’s also that 27 Dresses movie that’s super cute.
That’s literally in my top five favorite rom-coms!
Iris: It’s so good! *laughs* So yeah, I’d love to have my music is something that’s funny and romantic because I love those movies.
Me too! My boyfriend makes fun of me and is always like, ‘These stories wouldn’t even happen in real life.’ And I’m like, ‘Can’t you get let me enjoy the movie?!’ *laughs*
Iris: ‘Just let me live my life!’ *laughs*
‘I just want to see them happy!’ *laughs*
Iris: And those stories can totally happen in real life! Maybe not as cheesy as they are in the movies, but they still happen. *laughs*
Exactly! *laughs* So you were already mentioning that you had previously been in a band before branching off to do your solo stuff. Wanted to ask you, what got you interested in wanting to pursue a solo career?
Iris: Even before I had the band, I was always trying to do stuff as a solo artist. Once I did the band thing and had some success from it, I think it was just time. We did some tours, we went out with The 1975 and Tove Lo, and that whole live aspect was just such a fun experience. I love being able to share my music in front of people, and I didn’t ever want to give that up. I had always wanted to sing and perform my whole life, so even though the band didn’t work out I wasn’t going to let it stop me. I was determined to still do it, all I needed to do was find my sound as a solo artist. It did take a little bit of time because I didn’t want to rush anything. I wanted it to feel right. After being in that kind of situation, I was really ambitious to go back out there and do everything on my own. I had to get out of my own head and take my time to really focus on what felt right to me, but then “Crazy” came along and I was like, ‘This is it! This is the sound I’ve been looking for!’
How has the experience been doing music on your own different, or similar, to working in a group setting?
Iris: I feel like I have more creative control now, whereas before it always felt like I was taking a step back whenever I was working with another person in that creative space. My partner was always such a creative person, and he had so much work that was already written. I did have more creative control in the recording process toward the end of my experience with the band, and now I feel like with my work it’s up to me in what I want everything to sound like. There’s not another person in the room telling me ‘Oh, I don’t really like that.’ I don’t have to answer to anybody, but I can also be like, ‘This is how I want it to sound…how about this…what about that?’ *laughs*
And which artists and bands would you say have influenced your style and sound for your solo work?
Iris: I’m kind of old school in that sense because I love Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin, but then I also like Coldplay, John Mayer, Lady Gaga, and Dua Lipa. Even though I like all those artists, I don’t really want to sound like anybody else. I’m trying to make every song a little bit different by playing around with different things, like really cool guitar sounds and ambient sounds. I also like incorporating different genres in my music, so if I could bring all those elements together in my music that would be awesome.
Yeah! I feel like the modern music industry in general has been starting to incorporate a bunch of different elements into music.
Iris: Yeah! Especially with this new Ariana Grande album, she has some trap music mixed in, but it’s still very much pop and it’s really cool! I’m into it. It’s fun to dance to at the gay bars in West Hollywood. *laughs*
Very true! *laughs* They’re so fun!
Iris: And that’s another thing, I want my music to be fun as well, so bringing in those kind of elements is something that I want to really make sure that I do.
Totally! And if you could choose three artists to go on a world tour with, who would you choose an what would you name your tour?
Iris: Oooh! Coldplay for sure. I would also love to have John Mayer and Dua Lipa on there too, so that would be a fun group to get together. I have no idea what I would call it though, maybe like ‘The Iris Tour.’ *laughs*
Or it could be ‘iris’ like the flower!
Iris: Yeah! There we go! *laughs* I don’t even have an album name yet, but maybe I would end up going with the album name.
So as a female artist starting off the next chapter in her music career, do you feel that women in the music industry need to portray themselves in certain ways in order to be successful, whether it be in a group setting or a solo endeavor?
Iris: I think women, or men, or just in general, you need to stay true to themselves and who they are. I don’t think you should have to live under somebody else’s thumb nor should you have to change who you are according to what society thinks you should be. Overall, just be true to yourself, whatever that is.
Absolutely. And how do you balance your professional career with your personal life?
Iris: Luckily for me, I’m married to the guy that’s producing my record. *laughs* That’s actually how we connected was through music. When we started working together for this it was a little bit hard, but that was because I didn’t want to take his criticism too seriously. That was a bit of a challenge, but we’ve found a good balance where I take his criticism more from a professional standpoint. We were able to find our balance and the little things that make it work for us. In terms of my personal life, a lot of my friends are also industry people and I feel like we all find a balance and just a mutual respect for each other’s time. Music life is not your typical 9-5, so there are really no rules to how things work. We’ve fully accepted that people have their own things going on so we’re like, ‘I see you when I see you.’ *laughs*
I feel like that’s just the L.A. lifestyle. *laughs*
Iris: Oh totally. The entertainment business is just so big here that there’s no set hours or set days to do things. It’s more of an erratic schedule, like, you can have one week where you’re literally doing nothing, but then the next two weeks you’re working every single day from 12 o’clock in the afternoon until 2 o’clock in the morning. There’s no rhyme or reason for it, you just can’t really put a time frame on creativity you know? You just have to be accepting and patient and just go with it. You can’t be like, ‘Oh I’ll be done at 9 o’clock because that’s when I need to be home.’ *laughs* My husband and I are very good with checking in with each other and letting each other know if it’s going to be a late night or if we have to go out and do stuff. He actually came on the road with me when I was on tour, and we made that work. I asked him the next time if he was going to come with me and he was like, ‘I don’t know about that, I don’t think you can afford me.’ *both laugh* But we’ll see, I would absolutely love to have him on the road with me again. We have friends that make it work where they’re married or have kids, sometimes they’ll bring them on the road. It’s really just finding a balance and separating your work life from your personal time.
Yeah! And we were just chatting a little bit before about how much you love wine and that you’re part of a wine club. I mean, that counts as personal time too and you’ve clearly found some fun hobbies and interests to include in your life.
Iris: Oh yeah definitely! I feel like food and music, and even wine, kind of all go hand in hand, you know? I feel like anytime, even when I’m on an off time, everyone can find a way to incorporate music into their lives. Everybody loves music, and when you’re in a food and wine setting, you’re able to bring out a fun side to our music. We can bring it in and share it over some wine and just hang out.
And it’s so awesome that you bring up the food, drink and music because it’s everywhere. There’s music in bars, there’s music in restaurants, lots of times you play music when you’re cooking, it’s just a natural pairing.
Iris: Definitely. But it’s funny, because every time I go out to eat I do listen to the playlist. Like, if you go to a restaurant and it has a certain setting, but then they play music that’s doesn’t quite fit it almost ruins my mood. One of our friends, Manny Marroquin, he’s going to be opening a restaurant next to his studio on Lankershim and Larabee, and he really cares about is curating the playlist because it’s so important to him. Even though he’s going to have amazing food there, he wants to make sure the playlist is right too. I feel like it totally makes a difference in the setting of the place, you know? Sitting here right now, the music is chill and vibe-y. But if I was listening to pumping dance music right now, I would be like, ‘What? This music doesn’t go with the setting.’ There’s a time and place for that kind of music, but it’s definitely not over coffee and biscuits in a courtyard. *both laugh* But the same thing happened when I went to this trendy place in West Hollywood. I was eating this nice steak, when all of a sudden I started hearing “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” I mean, I love the song, but I was just like, ‘This song doesn’t really go with my steak in this nice restaurant.’ *both laugh*
You’re just like, ‘Maybe after a couple more drinks.’ *laughs*
Iris: *laughs* Yeah totally! But it also just didn’t fit the atmosphere of the place at all. The decor in there is very Old Hollywood where you should be hearing some Frank Sinatra or something elegant. I mean, nothing against Will Smith or “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” but it just wasn’t the place for his style of music. *laughs*
And what do you hope that your audience will take away from your music?
Iris: I just hope that my music is able to help people feel something and is able to help them find a place where they can have a little escape. I want people to be happy of course, but to also be comfortable with your emotions and to not be afraid to be who you are. Whatever they take away from my music I hope they could at least be able to take away that.
I’m sure they will. Music is able to resonate with different parts of our minds, personalities, and emotions.
Iris: Exactly. I think that’s what all of us who create music want.
We hope at least.
Iris: Right, right.
And to end us off, apart from the music video that’s coming up real soon, what other big and exciting things should we be expecting from you?
Iris: So we just release an acoustic in-studio performance of “Crazy,” so that’s up on YouTube now, and we’re doing the music video launch at the end of April. We were looking to release it after the Coachella madness has calmed down a bit. *laughs* But the song is out and was just released in the new season of Santa Clarita Diet, so definitely some exciting things happening for “Crazy.” In the meantime, I will be pushing the song and working on some other stuff to get myself out there. I have more songs already recorded, so there will definitely be more songs coming out soon!
About Coffee Commissary Burbank:
Many wonderful things have made their home in illustrious land of Burbank. The Walt Disney Studios, iHeartRadio, and Warner Brothers Studios (which holds the most famous coffeeshop of all – Central Perk from Friends) are just a few. Well, get your pens and papers out because we’re adding Coffee Commissary to the list! Located directly across from Burbank Studios and iHeartRadio, this modernized retro styled shop is the perfect spot for music and film execs, actors and musicians, and neighborhood locals to pop in for a scrumptious bite and a delicious caffeinated beverage.
Standard coffee offerings paired with recipes tailored to the hip Angelino’s eating habits (avocado, Sriracha, and kale galore) give you plenty of relatively healthy options to choose from. I opted for the brisket hash (consisting of eggs, potatoes, brisket, avocado, and smothered in chest goodness) and an iced vanilla latte that was the perfect amount of sweet and invigorating without getting a sugar rush. Take your pick at enjoying your time outside on their cozy patio area with woodsy seating arrangements, or inside with their school desk style bar stools, wire chairs and wooden benches against a colorful chevron designed floor. Coffee Commissary seems to be the place to be for all types of visitors, so what are you waiting for? Check them out!