We caught up with viral flute sensation Azeem Ward ahead of his first UK gig.
This summer has been a pretty surreal one for you, from initially creating the Facebook event, to appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel show to streaming your Senior Flute Recital to thousands the world over. How was your initial reaction to your new-found fame? Has the situation sunk in yet? How did your classmates at UCSB react?
Honestly, I didn’t know how to react. I have never experienced so many people eyeing me at once before so it was a little overwhelming. But the memes definitely made the whole experience better. Always gotta love some comedy….My classmates couldn’t believe what was going on. I was just as confused as they were, especially with cheeky nandos.
Was there a specific moment when it hit you just how viral your event was?
On the Tuesday before the recital, the amount attendees on the recital event page had
doubled within an hour. I knew something was viral.
Your event page on Facebook was inundated by fan-made memes and remixes, are there any that stuck out as favourites?
There’s a meme with me on the moon…That was one of the originals and my favs:)
You used your new-found fame to raise funds for those affected by the earthquake in Nepal, a very noble act indeed, do you have any other plans for charity work in the future?
In the future, I want to encourage the fine arts in younger generations. Where I’m from, schools tend to cut funding for many different types of fine art programs because they don’t think its as important for some reason. But I hope to support organizations and charities that want to help promote the fine arts for kids, showing them how important it actually is.
You’ve studied the flute for an extensive amount of time now, as a Jazz flautist who would you list as your main influences and heroes?
Hubert Laws is #1. However, I like Herbie Mann, Nestor Torres, and Frank Wess as well.
Your collaboration with Underbelly makes for an interesting new direction and focus with your work, can you tell us about how you guys came to work with each other?
We met at an open mic night at UCSB. He just finished hearing me perform a Flute Beatbox piece, so he thought it would be cool to collaborate. Our first project together was “body party” and we shot this video in the school tunnel. It came across really well so we thought we could take things to the next level.
What are you most looking forward to about coming to the UK?
Getting a chance to perform live for the all the fans and meet them in person!
You arguably have one of the most devoted fanbases in the UK, what can they expect from your live show? Do you have anything to say to your fans ahead of your first UK tour?
Get ready to to expect the unexpected.
I see that in your Kickstarter rewards you’ve offered fans the chance to get a Cheeky Nandos with yourself and Underbelly! What’s your favourite Nandos sauce, do you like it extra hot, or do you prefer to keep it mild when it comes to Peri Peri?
I have never had a Nandos before, but I think a medium hot sauce would be nice. I’ll soon find out!
Dream festival lineup?
Hiatus Kaiyote, Arctic Monkeys, Drake, Skepta, Mary J Blidge, Lionel Richie, Foo Fighters, Azeem X Underbelly…..maybe Darude? I’m sure there are more to this answer.
To difficult to answer: I do like Django, King Kong, Jurassic Park, anything with Aziz Ansari and Kevin Hart. Straight outta…. nandos.
Dream dinner guest (Dead or alive)?
If you had to pick another instrument to play what would it be?
Trombone or cello.
Questions – Chuck Jaco