Hailing from Manchester, 19-year old Blizzard was first featured on SB.TV back in 2011, but it was the viral Don't Flop battle with ex-teacher and member of Dead Poet's Society Mark Grist that truly pushed his popularity up and exposed him to a wider audience, culminating in the EP 'Sooner Than Never' peaking at Number 3 in the iTunes Hip hop chart in September 2012…
Blizzard says of that success: ‘It was crazy, I'd never sold anything before so I was testing the water, not expecting more than 100 sales. I thought they might buy me a drink at the bar but it just shows people that power is a strong thing - the only promotion was online and people were buying it because they wanted to hear it. It shows what you can do with just the fan base; no label deal or promotion. It's inspirational but I do it because I love making music; it's a bonus that people buy it.’
The successes of the viral videos have in a sense been a double edge sword for Blizzard. Alongside rapping, he sings and plays the piano but has subsequently become pigeonholed to an extent as a battle MC. Having now retired from battling to concentrate on making music and perfect his live shows, he also produced everything on the EP except for ‘Neckbreaker’ and hopes to continue to do so, saying 'It was rewarding as I had a big say in what it sounded like. By producing it, I feel more responsible for its success. If someone was to hit me up and only like the beat I'd feel like I was cheating.'
Blizzard says of his music that it's 'conceptual, eclectic, lyric focused, melodic with nice chord progression' which is perhaps testament to the music he was introduced to growing up. 'There was no rap music in my house when I was younger; it was more songwriters like Bowie, The Smiths, Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan. I wanted to write songs like him.'
It was as he got older that he started listening to Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, detailing 'it was Afrika Bambaataa's 'Planet Rock' that made me want to start rapping' and crediting the combination of those influences as to why his 'music's more conceptual than aggressive.'
As we talk about what 2013 holds in store for the artist, he says that he wants 'to do an acoustic EP and an album, but that's likely to be closer to 2014. My aim is two EP's and a mixtape maybe, but I'm taking every day as it comes. I'm so critical of my own stuff. I remember an interview I read with Thom Yorke where he said ‘Creep’ is his least favourite song to play, but has to play it at every show - for me it's important I love the songs just as much as the listeners.'
And his goals for the next five years I ask him, given that he'll still only be 23 at this time? It surprises me when he asks me to hold on for one second as he has these written down, before finding and subsequently listing them as 'a world tour, two albums, a UK tour and to move out of my mum's house [laughs]'.
What's perhaps to be admired most about Blizzard is that he's an articulate, intelligent individual whose clearly driven and looking to expand his creative horizons on his musical journey, perfecting his craft on an almost daily basis.
Humble to the point of ensuring we note he wants to give 'thanks to everyone who supports and understands how tough it is' and to let them know he sees 'all the tweets and messages of support', Blizzard is a name we should all be prepared to hear more from in his quest for success.
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)