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Arz and the Art of Storytelling

From acting to music, the East London artist details his passion for storytelling and walks us through his swift come up.

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As an adolescent coming up in East London, Arz had a sprightly passion for music and the dramatic arts, finding himself at a crossroads on which path to take. Starting at 15,  he found himself taking the musical route, using rap music as his chosen medium of expression while maintaining a keen interest in acting. As he began to experiment with different sounds, he quickly picked up a fondness for storytelling. Using music to relay his emotions, Arz wields a profound narrative-building ability which quickly helped him build a name for himself throughout the UK. As Arz stepped away from the street-centric content in his earlier music, he instead took heed to harness his ability to paint a picture musically.

With loaded themes throughout his music, Arz breaks down details of love as well as the deep trails he faces in his life, as he lays them bare on a track. His biggest song to date ‘Alone With You’ was a massive hit on Tiktok, amassing over 78 million streams. His most recent song ‘Captain’ further showcases, Arz rounded storytelling and stands above his peers with his sonically pleasing style.

We caught up with Arz about his swift rise and new sounds, as he unpacked his love of music and how he’s navigating the industry. With his debut album set for release at the tail end of the year, Arz is poised for stardom. 

Thank you for joining us, Arz. Can you tell us a bit about your come-up and history?
I was born in Homerton in East London. I grew up in Hackney and ever since a young age I’ve just always had an interest in music and acting.  Before music I really wanted to be an actor, so I’ve always liked being in front of cameras. The first time I got in front of the camera I was acting when I was like 14 and I started making music around the same time.

Around 15 or so I started putting freestyles out on Instagram, so people really started to know me from those freestyles. I’ve been moving around all my life. I’ve moved to North London, and now back in East London. Most of my life in East London. 

In your earlier music, I noticed the content of the music was very different. I wanted to ask what prompted that change from talking about street stuff to moving more to storytelling and expressing your emotions?
When I was younger, my music was jumpier and more active. There wasn’t much storytelling in my music—that’s what I started off with. But as I progressed as an artist and understood myself and what I am good at, I realised it was the storytelling thing, talking about my emotions and being real. Expressing how I feel on a track is what works well for me and that is what I enjoy the most. I will always do both. I have never tried to narrow myself down to one path and I believe if you are an artist you have to be able to do different types of beats and sounds and whatnot. 

Your biggest song by far is ‘Alone with you’, which has amassed over 78 million streams and is very big on Tiktok. How has the experience been having such a viral track?
When I’m out and stuff people might see me and say, “Oh you made Alone with you—that song on Tiktok” and a lot of people wouldn’t know it’s me and they would be surprised that I made it. It is a bit mad that they know the song and not know it is me that made the song. I don’t know though I think as long as I keep releasing music people will get to know me and will get to know the music. 

Ramonie and ProdbyMarcel are on one of your early songs ‘CID’. I think that’s your best verses, personally. Are they part of your earlier music journey?
Swear down? Thank you. I have known Ramonie for quite a while. He is my manager’s younger brother, so we have always been tapped in. We would both always just be in the studio coming up. He was really the first person I started making music with when I was around 15. It would be me, him and Marcel, one of my good friends who produced the track. We would just link up at Marcel’s house and just make music the whole time. I remember that whole Summer we made music together. We all started music together and Tim as well another very good friend of mine who is from Hackney too. He’s from Clapton and he is on the same thing as me, just trying to make music and be the best. Marcel is a dope producer. You can hear it when you listen to our music. These are people I have literally grown up with and you can tell that we have been spitting together for a long time. They are my brothers. 

When you were younger, growing up, did you listen to Mashtown? They were massive coming out of Hackney in the earlier days of UK rap?
I didn’t listen to them much at all, to be honest, that’s more the older generation from Hackney. But I didn’t listen to too much Drill either growing up. I have been a fan of drill but not the craziest fan of the genre. Even now a lot of the times when I go into studio sessions the producers will ask me if I want a drill sampled beat or a Lo-fi beat and I tell them I don’t really like drill like that. But Mashtown was definitely older than my time.

What was the music you gravitated towards growing up?
Whenever I get asked this question, it’s hard because I’ve always listened to so many different types of music. I grew up listening to Youngs Teflon. He’s a rapper from London and he is so hard. I went on tour with him the other month and that was crazy for me because I grew up listening to him so to be able to go on a UK tour with him was just mad. It was mad inspiring for me. So Youngs Teflon, 50 Cent and I would always bump Drake. I have always had a widespread taste but to pinpoint one as an inspiration it would have to be Youngs Teflon. 

Where did your passion for acting come from? Did you go to an arts school, or was that something you picked up along the way?
I had done GCSE drama. So that means in school I would have done drama as one of my subjects and that’s where it really started. I was really good at drama to be fair. Before music, I just remember watching shows all the time and thinking I need to be on a show because I had a love for it. I loved when actors played the characters well and I thought it would be dope to get into. I have a love for movies, cinematography, all of it really. So, I figured it’d be dope to get into 100% but now music is kind of moving for me so it is mainly music, but I would love to dabble in it. 

You just dropped your new song ‘Captain.’ You’re in your lover boy bag pretty heavy on this one. Do you find music is a coping mechanism?
That is what I have been doing for a long time. But it’s not really a coping mechanism because I find it just happens anyway. Like whenever I feel something I’m going to go to the booth and write about it. But naturally, it feels pretty nice, and it always does help. 

 So, at the tail end of the year, it’s looking like you’re going to drop your debut Album/Mixtape. How are you feeling about that?
I’m gassed man. It has been so long since I’ve dropped a tape. Or a body of work and when it comes down to projects and whatnot, I’m always excited because that’s where you can really show off what you’re about so I am proper excited about this one.  

I feel like there has been a shift in the UK this year with Knucks album charting and K-Trap and Blade Brown’s collab album doing really well. Do you think there has been more of an appreciation of lyricism and rapping ability this year in the UK scene?
Yeah, definitely it is coming back. I think it is dope because I will never really tap into heavy drill or do some crazy drill stuff, and I think everyone is in their own lane so it’s dope to see different people doing their thing. 

Alone with you is sitting at around 78 million right now which is crazy. Do you feel any pressure to come with another song that does that well again?
I used to feel quite a bit of pressure but now I don’t really feel pressure because I’ve had that song which has been a crazy moment of my life and it has done mad numbers because of how good it is. If I keep making great music one of them is going to do the same thing eventually and then it continues. I’m not really thinking about how I make the music I’m just making it and as long as it is real, I am happy. I am still young, so I have a lot of time to learn and get better. 

You just dropped the video for Captain which was directed by Blue Boredom. How did that come about?
We were in a writing camp with a few artists and a couple of producers. We asked one of the people there if there are any video directors and he said to hit up Blue Boredom. We had 3 or 4 hours left in Manchester and it happened really quick.  He came through and we rolled around Manchester picking little spots to shoot. He is a top guy and a really good videographer as well. It was kind of quick, but the video came up sweet. It was fun to shoot in Manchester. I rate Manchester a lot. 

Thank you so much for the time.
Love my bro thank you for that. 

Follow Arz here for more and check out his latest single ‘Captain’ here.

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