Ezra, singer/songwriter, was unaware of how he would grow and change after he stumbled to Chicago 2.5 years ago from Queens. He came to attend Columbia, the arts and media college in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood. He was enrolled in three universities--Queens College, New York University and Rider University--before he applied to the Contemporary Urban and Pop music program with a vocal concentration. There was something magnetic about Columbia that helped Ezra settle in Chicago.
"I transferred to NYU, college #2, thinking I was hot shit. Soon, I realized the program I enrolled in was really intense. It challenged my true intentions and I started to feel like I was exerting all this energy for a goal I didn't really want to achieve. I had to be real and admit that I was stretching myself thin for a backup plan when I really wanted to work toward making art 24/7," Ezra said.
Ezra dropped Purgatory, a digital music album, in July through Bandcamp. In many ways, Purgatory is a sneak peak into the journal and mind of someone sifting through the internal dust toward mental/spiritual clarity, liberation and wellness. The album opens with "The Attic." Ezra reflects a time of stagnancy in his life and art and his way of getting on the other side of that toward motivation. Toward the end of the song, Ezra sings:
"I can’t say what has been wrong with me / I’ve been working hard just to breathe
The cycle knocks me off of my feet like every week, it seems /I think I need some new clarity, about who I am and just why I be"
In other songs, we see him questioning himself and pointing out his own hindrances, feelings of loneliness, and questing answers. Throughout Purgatory there are voice snippets and short candid stories that give us a glimpse into Ezra's personality. Ezra includes interludes and skits reminiscent of The Velvet Rope, Baduizm, and 1st Born Second that reveals more about his personality, self-criticisms and relationship with his younger sister ("Boss").
DRALA: What was the drive for you to produce and release "Purgatory?"
Ezra: There’s nothing more I’ve wanted to do than to make music that feels honest to me, and hopefully get the chance to share it with anyone willing to listen. Maybe even relate to it. When I got to Chicago I realized I had a bunch of songs that essentially chronicled the time I spent trying to discover myself and listen to what my life was trying to tell me underneath a bunch of external noise. I was suddenly burning to talk about everything I felt I had learned. So I just needed to do it.
D: Did you do the instrumentation yourself or did you collaborate with others?
E: I ended up working on most of the instrumentation for Purgatory myself. The whole thing is MIDI based, so I was able to take the basic piano skills I have and combine that with working my way around software, learning as I went on. I got my friend Adam Tuhy to put a bit of guitar in Feral Friend. My friend Marcus Broderick came up with the lead synth motif in Slow, and I sampled some of glvmpyre's percussion from The Attic and used it in Promise 91. I was nervous about people hearing everything until the very moment I released it.
D: What is the significance of "purgatory," and how did you choose that title?
E: The part of me that hated myself had to die, but only for a time in order to be reborn into a space where self acceptance could reign supreme. I like that the concept of purgatory is understood to be a pathway to a form of purity or a state of paradise. I hoped that putting my journey on display would maybe send someone some good vibes and encourage them to live another day. I also thought it was necessary considering where I’m coming from and what I want to be able to say with my art next.
D: What's next?
E: Now that I’ve gotten Purgatory out of my system there’s so much more I want to say. I have a batch of songs I wrote after that time and I’m itching to do something with them. First I want to gather up some resources and meet even more people who can help me produce and record them in a really high quality, professional way. A “real” official debut, if you will. Haha. I want that to happen really soon. I want to be doing this for years to come.