WizTheMc finds himself in the post-genre era and likes to be called a true globetrotter: Born in Cape Town, he grew up and went to school in Lüneburg in northern Germany, now residing in Toronto, Canada, and signed to the successful US label 10K Projects in Los Angeles. His music, which he describes himself as “borderless pop,” moves along the corridor between indie pop and melodic rap. With over 85 million global streams, the 22-year-old’s biggest hits include the song “For A Minute” (2020), which was featured in the latest season of “Grey’s Anatomy” and the Netflix movie “He’s All That,” among others.
After merely freestyling with his friends as a hobby in his school days – at that time still in German – he quickly realized that he wanted to make music in English. Just days after graduating from high school in Lüneburg, Wiz flew to Toronto, where he knew no one, to immerse himself in the city’s music scene. A short stay turned into a six-month trip. This made him realize how much opportunity awaits you when you step out of your comfort zone. In his case: a signing to the successful American label 10K Projects, alongside the likes of Iann Dior and Trippie Redd. Nevertheless, he has never let the connection to Germany break.
Last week, Wiz released his newest EP “Where Silence Feels Good”, a project including the most vulnerable songs he ever wrote and shared with the world. Within this next chapter in his still young career, Wiz tells the great story of love in all its facets. He sings of the intense phase of being newly in love, of the moments of happiness, the trials and tribulations, but also the dark hours after a bitter break. In our interview we talked about his inspirations for this EP, the very humn urge to seek silence and aspects he would do differently when signing young artists.
People always talk about you as a globetrotter? Where do you feel most at home?
I would say Lüneburg. I was out walking earlier and I said to myself: The next place I feel like I do in Lüneburg will be my home. Also Toronto was my home for four years, it’s definitely one of my homes, but if someone asks me now – last year I didn’t have a home, this year I’m still going to find out if I find one. I’m going to keep an open mind for now and face what’s to come.
What does home mean to you?
The air in Lüneburg. My mother and many of my friends live here. And it is quiet. It is this feeling when I come from Berlin to Lüneburg. Phew. Everything is so quiet. Yes, really this quietness means home for me.
What impact has the pandemic had on you so far?
I think the social aspect has affected me the most. In the beginning you couldn’t meet people and then it became normal to not see each other in bigger groups. And I felt the repercussions of that a lot last year. I realized that I just didn’t feel as close to my friends in Germany and also Canada. I’m just learning that again. Last summer in LA helped me, there almost everything was normal and open. I was out and about and it felt completely different.
As far as creatively I can say I’ve been telling a lot more stories from the past, I’ve had a lot more time to really process stuff.
Did you also miss professional aspects like concerts?
100 percent! I got used to it a little bit. I’m actually more the type who lets go of things he can’t control. So if it says no concerts, then I say okay. I miss it of course, but I try not to focus on things that I can’t control. Otherwise I would probably be depressed every day.
Has social media and your community been able to help you there?
I tried different formats during that time, and I still like to try things out now. I definitely feel connected to my fans through Instagram. In my dms I’m really active and like to write with people. At the beginning of the pandemic I used to live-stream every Wednesday too. I wouldn’t say I have a perfect relationship with social media, but I’ve noticed that the perception of toxicity also has a lot to do with yourself and your self-perception before consuming media. When using social media right after you get up, you’re just so much more receptive to everything. I’d say, after you’ve gone for a walk, read a book and thought about things, you have a completely different attitude towards social media.
Before we talk about your new music, I wanted to go all the way back: When are your earliest memories of contact with music?
One of the first people in my environment who made music and inspired me was Stephan from Hamburg. I met him through a buddy in Lüneburg and then in 2016 I drove from Lüneburg to Hamburg almost every day for half a year to make music with him. That was so exciting and felt so good. That was the first studio I went to, the first adult person who saw potential in me. Stephan Graykone. I was reading an old journal of mine yesterday, so that just popped into my head.
And when did you know you wanted to be a musician? That you wanted to earn your money with it?
That was always the plan. Even though I had a big vision, I also always had small goals, like just making music all the time. Make the next EP, the next mixtape. And somehow it was logical to me that if I keep doing this, eventually I’ll get really good. I never thought I was doing this so I could be rich next year. I loved it and it never felt like a job, but I knew I wanted to make a living out of it.
Have you always been WizTheMc? Where did the stage name come from?
It was there, even before my music. When I was 13 or 14 I had an iPod Touch and that was my username on a lot of social media where I logged on. I didn’t know what TheMc was or what it meant. I’m pretty convinced I didn’t know who Wiz Khalifa was either. The name just came to me. God wanted me to be a rapper.
At what point would you say your career began?
I think around the end of 2018/beginning of 2019. During that time my Spotify streams grew tremendously. I just felt a lot more professional since then and treated my work that way. When I got signed 2 years ago, that was another extra step. But for me it was already clear before that I do this and nothing else. Every person I meet, I tell them that I make music.
Do you remember when and where you decided to write/do English music?
That came pretty quickly. In the beginning I was making music in German, but with a lot of English words and then I switched to English because it just sounds a lot cooler and is easier. And I thought about whether I wanted to potentially reach 100 million people or 8 billion people.
Where do you think you would be today if you hadn’t gone to Toronto and/or stayed with German music?
I would probably be Germany’s biggest rapper now. *laughs*
How does it feel to play sold out concerts, to hear your music in movies, to meet other famous musicians?
Concerts are the most real way for me to present the music. It’s super cool that people can listen to your music everywhere and stream it, but seeing people in real life react to certain songs and parts in the songs is mega. I don’t even think about that when I’m writing something. For example, at my last concert in Berlin, I noticed that there were a few sections where everyone was screaming along, where I would never have thought that. That’s when I learn where there’s something that connects us all emotionally. To feel that on stage is really great.
Hearing my music in series and movies is just crazy. For example, I’ve never watched “Grey’s Anatomy” or “He’s All That” or “Atypical”. I’ve never been in that bubble. Every movie and series has a universe for the audience and then my song plays in their universe?! That’s so crazy that I can enter their worlds and be a part of it.
Do you have a series or movie you wish your music was in?
Rick and Morty for sure. Definitely a Nolan movie, a movie with Leonardo Di Caprio. It would be so rad to have his face to my music. But ideally it should be really epic. I have a vision there. It just has to be the right director hearing my song at the right time.
What are the pros and cons of the music industry today? Would you want to change anything?
I’ve thought about it a lot, especially since I’ve been signed. When my label is big enough that I can sign people, I will take artists no matter how much success they have and how much money they make, and treat them as humanly as possible. And I am being treated humanely, but at the same time there’s this wave of LA of “you’re going to be the next big star.” And that did something to me. I would advise new artists to keep working on the music. Sure, you’re going to make money and as a label we’d work for that, but I also want the artist to stay with the music and not get lost in partying, fame and stuff like that. It should stay with the art. The beauty and the hungriness before they are on a label and before they have a blue hook is that they show up and just want their music to be heard. And that attitude should to be supported. A label is not a level up, a label is financial ease in your personal and professional life. You can make cool music videos and meet cool artists, but the core shouldn’t change. And for me, something changed and I don’t blame it on anything external. But you could offer holistic help, like life coaching for young artists. It is then not asked how much money do you want to make, how famous do you want to become, but what do you want to achieve with your music? What is important to you? How much do you want to show yourself online? How much time do you want to spend with your family? Do you want to play concerts? What do you like and how can we help you specifically? This is the kind I would like to see.
What inspired you to create this EP?
Los Angeles the place inspired me. For me there was just chaos. I couldn’t find any ground under my feet there. I think it’s like that for a lot of artists when they first get there. I quickly didn’t feel well. In the half year I was there, I just wanted to find silence, like here in Lüneburg. But I didn’t find that anywhere, no matter how quiet it was or how much nature was there. I somehow always had something in the back of my mind. And maybe you have to go home every now and then to find that silence and maybe you can’t have it all the time.
Your new songs are probably your most vulnerable ones you’ve ever released. It’s about love and all its facets. When and what was the last time you had to learn something about yourself in terms of love/ and relationships?
I would say when I got out of my last relationship (which was 1 year ago now) I realized that I wasn’t treating my friends fairly during that time. She was too big a part of my life. Living together wasn’t a good idea either. I just learned that it is important for each person in the relationship to have something of their own: their job, a hobby, friends. I am not a person with a huge circle of friends, so often my girlfriends were my friends and best friends and advice. And sometimes you just have to separate that. I expected too much and didn’t find a balance. I should have looked for something outside of the relationship at times. It was too overloaded.
Which of the 7 tracks is your favorite and why?
Premature Love because it’s so upbeat. Last year was so somber and emotional for me. This year I’m starting off differently. I think I already laughed more than the whole last half of 2021. Just those vibes, spring, summer and fresh love.
What do you find easier: writing about your personal feelings or then sharing them with the world?
I think it’s more of a sequence. It’s easy for me to write about it and then when it’s written and I think the music and lyrics match my feelings, then it’s easy to share that with the world. Then it’s a total package. But I could never go into the studio knowing that everything that is about to happen will be shown to the whole world. Then I would be overthinking everything.
What projects do you want/will you implement in the near future?
I can’t tell you anything specific yet, unfortunately, it’s still secret. But it will be a mixture of these spring feelings and the remaining sadness from last year. I’m putting something together right now and I have a lot planned for this year.