Fresh out of rehearsal for an upcoming tour with songstress Camila Cabello, 20-year-old Andrew Bazzi is musing about exactly why his songs resonate. “I think my music became great once I found myself personally,” says the artist, whose breakout hit “Mine” is a radio staple currently climbing into the upper echelon of the charts and effectively minting him as music’s latest pop star. “When you find yourself, you realize that people are not you. I can’t feel anyone else’s sadness, disappointment or happiness. I can only feel mine, and once I had that understanding, it was really easy to start writing about things that were real to me. It may not make me look like this perfect angel, but it’s going to be the truth, and you’ll actually get to know me.”
A native of Mich., Bazzi’s father decamped to the United States from Lebanon in search of a better life when he was 21 years old. The elder Bazzi met his wife in New York City, and the two later moved to Dearborn, a neighbor of Detroit that’s full of immigrants from the Middle East and Europe. “My father has always been a dreamer,” says Bazzi, of the one he calls his biggest supporter. “He came from nothing; had no money, only ambition, and it took him really far. He instilled that in me, too. I think that’s where I got a lot of my intuition to chase exactly what I want, and get the things I believe in.”
Noting his home city was an environment “where nothing was really happening,” Bazzi threw himself into a passion for music, first learning the oud, a Lebanese guitar outfitted with a shorter neck and a more oval body. “My dad brought it back from Lebanon when I was 5. I played the absolute life out of that thing.”
“When I moved, it wasn’t because of anything promising, just the belief that something would work out,” he remembers of the transition from snowy Mich. to sunny Calif. “I just said, 'I’m gonna do it,' and had a trust that I’d figure it out.” Eventually, he landed a one-off session writing for another artist, something he immediately knew wasn’t for him. “That’s when I realized that my ability and my talent wasn’t creating music for other people, it was making my own for myself.”
I never have to play pretend or hide or say certain things, whether in my music or even in this interview.
It’s through that process that he created the genre-bending 16 tracks that make up his debut album Cosmic (out now via iamcosmic/Atlantic Records), all of which he laid the groundwork for well before “Mine” connected with listeners, first on Snapchat and then on Spotify. True to form, Cosmic’s lyrics avoid contrived scenarios in favor of a warts-and-all approach to songwriting; all ripped from his actual life, and all solely written by him and about him. Case in point: the hairy detail of admitting he’s hooked up with a friend of an ex-girlfriend.
“I haven’t heard anything about that,” he notes of whether the real people he’s alluding to in his music have ever reached out about their reference. “Nobody tends to say anything. I think the boldness of it is a little intimidating. To be like, ‘Why did you say that?’” After all, this unadulterated honesty plays into the larger scheme of his unique success. “I never have to play pretend or hide or say certain things, whether in my music or even in this interview. All I’ve ever done is be myself.”