He’s traveled the world as the live DJ for Usher, even performing for Bill Clinton’s Charity event at the Hollywood Bowl with Bono of U2 & Stevie Wonder. IZ says, “I’m all about the freshness of my creativity. I enjoy fusing my lifestyle as a creator with the way it parallels with companies for which I have a passion.”
In addition to his chops as an accomplished Drummer, Percussionist and Bassist, IZ Avila is perhaps best known for his mastery of his MPC3000, his turntables and world-renowned DJ skills with superstar artists. He also captured a Grammy with Usher for his Confessions album in the Best R&B album category.
IZ Avila started performing at a very young age. At 6 years old, IZ had his very first drum set. A natural, the youngster was constantly disassembling the kit in an attempt to mimic the sounds of his father’s James Brown records. IZ adds, “I was always into the pulse of what the beat was doing… and started developing my own feel which at that time the Masters called ‘the Pocket.'” Early on IZ’s father began sneaking his protégé brother Bobby and he into the various clubs where his band was performing. Not shy about putting their talents on display, He would have Bobby and IZ play during the band’s breaks. The boys were hooked.
As IZ and Bobby matured, the brothers began honing their performance skills and started assembling their own shows. By 1989, IZ was deeply immersed into the Hip Hop culture and music. EPMD, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, NWA, PUBLIC ENEMY and BOOGIE DOWN PRODUCTIONS were favorites. His experience in hip-hop music stayed with him and became a part of his world. IZ muses, “From the dancing aspect, to hearing beats in my head, I knew hip-hop would be the pallet from which I would one day paint.”
In 2001, IZ landed an opportunity to travel the world with Macy Gray as her “Drummer” and in 2002, he performed on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show and various national morning television shows. The pinnacle of his drumming days would include playing on the Grammy telecast to 40 million people worldwide. IZ adds, “After that Grammy experience, I knew I would be back one day but I promised myself next time it would be for a different reason… for my own project.”
While experiencing the road, IZ began to focus in on his other craft and love, which was making music. IZ traveled around in virtually every city looking for record shops to buy vinyl. He says, “All I had was my MPC3000, my turntable and a small Vestex mixer looking to create my own sounds.” Taking all the inspiration he had from his heroes growing up including Ali Shaheed Muhammed, Pete rock, Jay Dee, DJ Primier, IZ began dropping beats on cd’s and giving them to DJ Kilu (Freestyle Fellowship’s DJ ).
By the time he was off the road, things were in full gear. “It had come to the point where I could hear an idea in my head and instantly create it from top to bottom,” he says.
The now burgeoning artist began creating his own beat cd’s with 20 beats on a cd and remembers, “I just started handing them out, sleeping on a studio couch and going through records. I was all about beats, beats ,beats.” His first “official” production placement was from a group on Interscope called “4th Avenue Jones.” Shortly after was “Butch Cassidy” and almost without warning, the gigs just kept coming. During that time, IZ was also making music for his brother Bobby’s album, Audiography ( Warner Bros.).
Soon thereafter, IZ went on to work with mega-producers Jimmy “Jam” Harris & Terry Lewis with brother Bobby. “We were drop’n joints for artist like Mya, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot, Gwen Stefani and Mariah Carey. In fact, almost every beat I had done up to that point was being placed on an artist’s project. I remember the first track we ever cut for Usher was actually a beat I had made years prior for a group I went to high school with. It became the song titled “Truth Hurts” on Confessions.”
The flood gates opened for IZ and brother Bobby with Grammy Nominations and Grammy Awards. A beat that IZ created in the basement of a studio of the Village Recorder would eventually earn IZ and brother Bobby a Grammy for “Best
Female Duo Vocal Performance” by Chaka Kahn entitled ” Disrespectful” featuring Mary J. Blige. IZ went on to record the very first project as brothers with Bobby, “The Avila Brother’s” album titled “The Mood Soundsational.” IZ had recorded a remix for a Janet Jackson song at the time which didn’t end up being used for Janet’s project. IZ says, “We used it for our own song, “I Want You” which ended up being a #1 record in LA as well as Chicago.”
In 2008, IZ started his involvement with the “Grammy in the Schools Program,” speaking at various career days at local High Schools. His involvement became so deep that he was presented with The Grammy Foundation Award in 2008 for being the #1 most active member in schools within his region. In 2009, IZ went back to the High School he had graduated from — “Eisenhower High” — and started helping them rebuild their music department by donating instruments and building a rapport with the students. Later that year, the Rialto School District called to notify Avila that they were going to induct him into “The Hall Of Fame” along with Ronnie Lott from the “Raiders”.
Avila continued to create and make music with his MPC3000 and turntable. After developing a variety of musical goods for artists like Pac Div featuring DJ Revolution along with delivering sonic experiences like “Monstar” by Usher, It wasn’t long before IZ became Usher’s full-time DJ. IZ adds, ” I really began to enjoy moving the crowd and putting together musical segue’s for Usher’s OMG TOUR that would take me around the world to place’s I never thought I would see. Visiting Jamaica, Australia, Germany, Dubai, UK and China was amazing and allowed me to experience all the different sounds of the world.”
A great part of the tour experience has been hearing people around the world sing the words to the songs I created with my brother. There’s nothing like that feeling… to know that even across continents and oceans, your music has touched someone’s life.
In March of 2012, Usher performed a special show that took IZ to Africa. It was an opportunity for IZ to launch Africa’s first Young Creator group with Africa’s minister of Art’s.
These days, aside from traveling as Usher DJ/ Producer and launching the new MPC3000, IZ and brother Bobby are focusing their attention on expanding the Avila Brothers Brand, working with Best Buy and their Young Creator organization. Along with Bruce Forat, IZ’s involved extensively with Akai in putting together the functionality and work flow feel for the new MPC ‘ Renaissance.”
IZ’s currently working on his own Hip-Hop album which will feature a lot of his personal fave’s. He concludes, “Sonic treats that are the basis of The Avila Brother’s sound…fresh & classic all at the same time”.