I had no idea who or what Sylo Nozra was before June 24th, 2014. The name sounded kinda ambiguous……sorta like Keyser Soze from Usual Suspects.
How I Met Sylo Nozra
While I was interviewing Spoken Word artist JD Vishus at 7 West restaurant, [read his interview here] our waiter confessed to eavesdropping on our conversation and timidly asked if JD was a performer. JD replied yes.
Literally seconds after that, something FREAKING awesome happened. Our very young and carefree-looking waiter busted out a soulful beat for JD to freestyle to.
My mouth dropped to the floor in awe! I couldn’t believe that that was actually happening. I loved that he had the guts cojones to put it out there and perform for us.
Once his impromptu performance was over, he told us that he was a singer and that he went by the name of Sylo Nozra. We chatted briefly (he was at work after all…) and thanked him for the show.
When I had a chance to go on the net and research him, I located him on Facebook. I was so taken with his music, I had no choice but to send him my trademark “I would like to meet you....” email.
It didn’t take long for me to fall for his full-bodied voice – which was surprisingly incredibly soulful. It exuded a mix of tenderness and vulnerability, which made me want to connect with him. I needed to know more about Sylo Nozra. (psst…I like saying his name! lol)
We met up less than a month later, and at first glance, he looked like the chill, unassuming type of artist – unaware of his talent.
Over the course of the interview Sylo spoke about the ups and downs of his music career and confessed to feeling like a slacker who needed to put more hard work into his career.
I also discovered that this young singer (he just turned 21!) isn’t just a solo artist; he’s a part of a band with old high school friend – Michael Goldchain- aka Goldchain, called Komodo, which has since morphed into their new indie r&b/ alternative band, Oka Trappist.
So allow me to reintroduce Sylo Nozra. Read his story below.
Hometown: Bloor and Christie, Toronto
Astrological Sign: Leo
Fun Fact: He briefly worked as a telemarketer but didn’t make any sales. In desperation, he faked a British accent to try to get a sale – that didn’t work either!
Fun Fact 2: At age 8, he came pretty close to playing Simba in the Lion King musical
What inspired you to kick that freestyle in the middle of the restaurant?
I don’t know. I just felt like doing something spontaneous… I wanted to create something. It was a slow day and you guys were the only ones in the restaurant. Once I started I was like, “Holy crap, what did I just do? If I stop now it’ll be really embarrassing, but I wanna stop because I am really nervous!”
I had no idea how you were going to judge me or what you were going to think.
Your stage name is unique. How did you come up with it?
It’s the most randomest thing ever and I’m kinda embarrassed to tell you! I was watching the show, Derek, with Ricky Gervais and one of the characters in the nursing home was named “Sylo.” I liked the name so I kept it in mind.
The second part of my name is even stupider! On my way to my parents’ house is a Persian plaza called Arzon plaza. Arzon in Farsi means cheap. I didn’t know that, but a Persian friend of mine told me me that after I chose the name. I looked at the word: A-R-Z-O-N. I was like, what’s Arzon backwards?” N-O-Z-R-A. I put them together – Sylo Nozra.
Describe your sound.
Alternative r&b……with a taste of dream pop.
What’s Dream Pop?
Music that sounds like you are flying in space, basically, kinda like Coldplay but more electronic.
When did you start making music?
I started singing when I was really young. I was in a choir from grade 3 to grade 5. I was in church every Sunday.
When I was around 13 years old I kinda stopped singing and I got into sports. By the time I got to middle school, I knew I was at a crossroads. “Do I want to do music, or sports for the rest of my life?” Then I joined a band at 13 years old.
There was a student teacher in middle school who was assisting the music teacher and wanted to a put a band together for an assembly – kinda like School Of Rock. So I stayed with those guys until way beyond that project and we became a band. Our name was Anonymous, then TCATER (The Crazy Asians That Eat Rice). We were inspired by Green Day, Blink 182, Sum 41…..pop punk.
So you were a solo artist and a part of a band?
Well I’ve always done sort of a solo thing even when I was in the band. During high school I was into writing indie alternative rock songs while at the same time being heavily influenced by the likes of John Mayer, Jason Mraz and Feist for my solo acoustic stuff.
Then around the last year of school I got together with Goldchain…..he was producing for various rappers in Toronto. That’s when I ‘re-discovered my love for hip hop, soul and R&B.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I honestly don’t listen to that much music. I listen to the same people – Erykah Badu, J. Cole, Esperanza Spalding, Frank Ocean and Beach House.
What do you think about music competition shows like American Idol, The Voice?
I think it’s for people who want fame more than they want personal success. It’s really short lived. What ever happened to Ruben Studdard, Fantasia or Clay Aiken?
Any projects on the horizon?
I will be releasing my debut EP in December.
When the interview ended, we walked back to Yonge and Bloor. I was headed back home and Sylo was making his way to the east end for his acupuncture appointment. But before we parted ways, we engaged in a 30 minute talk about life, success and surrounding yourself with positive people. We were both glad to have met each other. Not sure what brought us together, but definitely glad to have connected. Thanks, Sylo!
Need more Sylo? Check his deets here.