Ozay Moore has been putting in hard work crafting some enjoyable hip hop for a majority of his worldwide fanbase. Staunchly entrenched in the purest ethic of the artform, he places his heart, his energy, and belief into every project and live show he does. I was lucky enough to catch him in one of the best local small venues a few years back and he brings everything to the stage, people. So, when it came time to bring back my monthly interview series here at Conducting Thoughts, I could think of no better person to speak with than him. But I wanted to come at him from a different angle so here, I decided to speak with Ozay NOT about his music but, instead, what it is like to be an artist who's traveled almost worldwide.
(Ozay has some traveling music to go along with the interview, peep it HERE)
Conduct Lionhardt: I know that due to your music, you've been given the opportunities to go to many, many places in the world. We'll get into just how many in a second but, where was your first trip outside of the U.S. and how old were you?
Ozay Moore: My first trip outside the United States was to Mexico. I was a sophomore in high school. my family and I took spring break in San Diego and drove across the border into Tijuana and on down to Ensenada. Both were experiences. At that time I finally understood that the world was a lot bigger then the community I lived in. I guess you could say it made me hungry to see the world.
Conduct: Alright! If you can remember all of them, what places worldwide have you travelled to?
Ozay: Japan, Spain, Amsterdam, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, and Canada.
Conduct: Is there any particular location, of the places you've listed above, that hold a real special place in your heart? Why that place?
Ozay: I would have to say my favorite place to go is Japan. Not only have they shown me a tremendous amount of support, I also love the country. Its history is rich, they're technological advances are crazy, the culinary experience is amazing, and its just overall a beautiful place.
Conduct: I've heard from plenty of well traveled touring artists that certain countries respond really well to live performers such as yourself. What places have the most live crowds?
Ozay: Another reason why I am so fond of Japan. I've toured there now on 5 separate occasions. Each time was amazing. my very first experience in Japan was in 2005. this happened upon the unexpected success of the EP "classic". The label I was on (Mic Life) put together a tour featuring myself & The Procussions. It was literally like living a dream. We performed at the prestigious Blue Note Jazz clubs and packed out every set. The Hipknotics band was there as well so you can imagine how legit it felt. I've been there once with Lightheaded, another time with my wife, and 2 other times on a solo mission. Although there was a language barrier, the way that the crowds responded in those live setting were fully engaged. In some cases although not knowing English, fans would be singing lyrics to the song. I would only know they didn't know english by my attempts to build with them after the show. Alittle dedication to communicate goes a long way.
Conduct: Wow, that's pretty amazing. Has traveling to so many different places affected things outside of your music, such as an interest in learning more languages?
Ozay: In my travels I've developed a desire to learn many different languages... I have yet to learn any of them ha ha. I mean depending on the country I can usually get along okay, but I am by no means fluent in any other language but English. It's a shame. I will say though, music regardless of the language it's recorded in is pretty universal. I'm glad that it has at least allowed me to gain audiences around the world.
Conduct: Did any locations suprise you by going beyond or below the expectations you had for them?
Ozay: In every country I've been, I feel like my expectations were always exceeded. the measure in which most people in other countries go to accommodate guests is nothing short of extraordinary. Across the board I would have to say that is the most common difference... hospitality.
Conduct: That's actually something comforting to hear, my friend. What are the ESSENTIALS (in your opinion) for world travel, as a music artist?
Ozay: I feel like if you want to get the most out of your experience in another country , go seeking to learn about them. Ask questions and show interest for where they live who they are and the history of their country. Right off the bat you've curbed the stereotype of a typical American... in which most cases they assume you are. I've heard it time and time again from locals in other places, that usually when a hip hop artist comes to town they only seek for weed and women. so needless to say posture yourself humbled to be there and soak it all in. By the time you leave you'll be happy you did. oh yeah and Build with local artists.
Conduct: You mentioned both travelling with others and solo. What were some of the differences of traveling alone? Did you find more time to focus on certain things or perhaps moments of personal introspection?
Ozay: When traveling with other folks, someone like me ends up Thirsting for time alone. Don't get me wrong I enjoy company, I just know I need time by myself to soak up what it is I'm experiencing. It's like when I hear a good sermon I usually want to take some time alone afterwards to process and internalize what it is I heard. One of my favorite moments in travel had to be my last trip to Japan. I was actually with my home boy DJ Tonk climbing a mountain southern Japan. to climb a mountain that has stone steps carved into the side of it thousands and thousands of years old, and to bear witness ancient relics older than the country you live in still intact and in arms reach was phenomenal. When we got to the top of the mountain repressed ourselves and a large rock heated up some instant udon noodles with some super fly high tech Japanese contraption and sat quiet for like an hour. That junk was powerful.
Conduct: Sounds like! Has going to these places changed your perspective on things at home?
Ozay: Bringing my experiences home always challenged to me to find ways in applying what I've learned abroad ... locally. Those connections weren't always natural ones. Sometimes just knowing the world is bigger than the corner you live in can help you better understand people more. As an MC, to understand people and connect with them where they're at is not only my job, but my passion.
Conduct: Were there any spiritual experiences these travels afforded you?
Ozay: While in Japan I had the honor of building with a local church in Utsunomia. My experience there was truly special. To understand Japanese culture, and then to understand the pride for it especially amongst their elders. Then to see them going against everything they were brought up knowing in pursuit of Jesus as an older man or woman is the kind of thing that will strengthen any believers walk. That was one of many memorable spiritual experiences for me abroad.
Conduct: Yeah, that surely is some inspiring stuff. I'm glad you've had moments like that while on your many journeys. Thanks so much for Conducting Thoughts with me.
Feel free to keep up with Ozay Moore and what he's into @ Twitter and Facebook. You can also catch some music on his soundcloud and check out what he and some friends are doing to help educate kids about hip hop culture @ www.alloftheabovehiphop.org.
Be on the lookout for these releases from him in 2013:
Ozay Moore + 14kt "Taking L's"
Ozay Moore / Sareem Poems & Hir-O are Your Every Day People "Everyday not your Everyday"