Mid Coast Volume 18; ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Izzy Veta, Shadi, Jon Henry

Midcoast Collective hosted their 18th edition this past Thursday at Cactus Club with an eclectic bill featuring 5PM to Nowhere, Izzy Veta, Shadi and Jon Henry. This month they supported Students for Democratic Society, an organization striving for progressive change on college campuses.

Izzy Veta is a singer-songwriter and member of Midcoast. Her set Thursday consisted of four original songs and two covers (one French and one Russian). Some of her biggest influences are Dodie, Aspen Grove and Los Halos.

Veta gives some backstory on how she started with music. “When I was twelve, I went to music school back where I’m from but it wasn’t for a long time (laughs). I had a lot of responsibility with school and getting good grades so I wasn’t able to focus on music. I had an acoustic guitar but it was kind of associated with this weird trauma of people telling me I should study more and more and more but I didn’t have time for it. Then I came to the US and I really enjoyed going to shows, and in June 2020 I met LoBi – who’s also in the music scene – and he inspired me to pick up guitar again. I was very intimidated at first because he’s been playing for ten years, but I’d had melodies in my head that I already had lyrics to because I’m primarily a poet. I write in both Russian and English so it came naturally.”

Her debut single “Free” dropped last December. “It’s actually a birthday present from LoBi,” Veta explained. “December 11th is my birthday so he helped me release it on that day. It’s about feeling down inside and then this person comes into your life and sets you free.”

Izzy Veta is working on her debut album with LoBi. “90 percent of the album is devoted to him. It’s called “Dairy Ballads” and I’m not sure when it’s coming but we’re working on it little by little.”

Shadi is a hip hop artist who performs frequently with live band Stay Focused. She incorporates a wide range of stylistic elements into her sound ranging from rock to electronica to jazz.

On how she started making music, Shadi shared, “I started when I was with a youth organization called COA when I was a preteen. There was a teacher there who hosted music production and songwriting classes, and for a while I was the only person showing up; the first class there was a lot of people there but overtime people started dwindling. We ended up making a song or two before I finally decided that I wanted to make it into an actual project. Over the course of a couple months, I ended up making my first EP called “My Life in a Boombox” which was five songs. Music for me felt natural because everyone on both my mom and dad’s side is really into music and art in general.”

“Mansions in the Sky” is Shadi’s debut album and dropped last year. “I actually started making those songs in 2017 or 2018,” she explained. “Due to school and life catching up to me, everything got postponed and I wasn’t able to release the music until I was 19. It was a long process of a lot of revising, rewriting and finalizing everything the way I wanted it to be. I originally called it “Mansions in the Sky” because of the Studio Ghibli film “Castle in the Sky” but the “mansion” is supposed to be both literal and a symbolism, like a goal that I’m trying to reach. With the future for my music, I want to keep pushing it to bigger levels and showcase what I have to offer.”

Shadi’s got plenty more music in the works. “The new stuff reflects how much I’ve grown and who I am now,” she said.

Jon Henry bridges hip hop, pop and electronica seamlessly and lovingly. Known for his energetic and interactive performances, Henry puts effort into making sure everyone in the crowd feels acknowledged during his shows.

Originally from Milwaukee, Henry was in LA for some time before eventually relocating back here. “I was at UW-Madison and then went out to LA with some friends I went to school with; we ended up doing some cool stuff with our music out there but eventually I wasn’t happy anymore and wanted to return home; when I did, everything opened up for me. I finally really got into our local scene and I love feeling part of this community.”

He dropped the single and video “Tour Milwaukee” last year in which he shouts out many local artists and businesses he admires and looks up to. Reflecting on hometown love, Henry said, “When I’m not working or with family, I’m going out everywhere. That’s where it came from, and I think that makes it easy when I’m having writer’s block to focus on something that I’m always thinking about or up to. I didn’t want to make it a pop song with a chorus; it’s just a song talking about my real life, which made it not feel fake or cynical.”

In fact, that song ended up on his subsequent album “Young World Street.” He explained, “My friend Paul makes all types of music and gives himself all kinds of cues to help himself create, and he hit me up and said he wanted to work together and make some hip hop. We started throwing ideas back and forth and came up with all these songs that all felt weird in their own way, and it felt like we were really onto something.”

Then he dropped the single “All U Touch & All U See” back in June. “I worked with my cousin on that one; he’s a producer and rapper named Elite Tracks and is super talented. He just makes beats and throws them to me because we’re family, and I had something that really fit it; I think what the song is about is almost a mournful sense of not knowing what your life is going to be, but whatever it’s going to be is what you put into it – life is what you make of it. The chorus is actually lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” which is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. I wrote it a long time when I was walking around LA on my lunch break.”

Jon Henry has more songs in the chamber that he’s figuring out what to do with – starting with a new song out this Friday!

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