“I write anytime I feel like it,” Naia Izumi tells American Songwriter. “I live in that space, and songwriting is a reflection of everything I see.”
It’s that mentality that’s led to Izumi becoming a formidable force in the guitar-driven pop-rock world. With an inimitable two-hand tapping style and uber-melodic sensibilities, his organic song-craft led him to winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2018. After that, he began releasing a string of virtuosic singles.
Now, on July 9, he’s unveiling his newest tune: “Six Inch Stilettos,” a testament to his knack for catchy tunes and observationalist lyricism. The single comes ahead of Izumi’s major label debut, A Residency in the Los Angeles Area, due July 30 via Sony Music Masterworks.
“‘Six Inch Stilettos’ is a depiction of something very subtle that people make light of, but it’s a very big problem,” Izumi said. “It’s the story of a girl I dated who was very attractive, but everything was taken care of for her, so she’d use guys with no mercy. I broke up with her really quickly. So, to me, it’s the saddest song on the whole record. As the bridge in the song goes: Give her an inch she takes a mile.”
Yet, for as resonant as the surface-level sentiment of “Six Inch Stilettos” is, Izumi reveals that he sees it as just the jumping-off-point for a much more complex composition. Between the bubbling flow of the melodies and the precision of its arrangement, a palpable mood is conjured.
“When writing songs, you can say something without even saying it,” Izumi explained. “There are so many subtle nuances. Like any practice, it just gets deeper and deeper. My process starts with rhythm and counter-melodies, and I build off that shell. Everything in life has rhythm. It’s the most intuitive to human nature, and melody is in everything as well. If you start with what’s natural, the rest starts to fill itself in.”
Coming back to Izumi’s natural talents as a writer, the way he put together all the moving pieces of “Six Inch Stilettos” is an impressive feat. At a time when “innovation” seems to be happening far more in the technology realm than the cultural one, it’s amazing to see an artist like Izumi make a bold, exciting new sound out of the cherished, ol’ six-string. That’s raw, unabashed creativity.
Naia Izumi’s new single “Six Inch Stilettos” is out now—watch the music video for it below: