ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Cleopatra Hoze, *aya, 22Maurii, Zolton

The fun at Bremen Cafe did not stop after the Block Party Saturday – there was an afterparty too! We got to see and talk to the likes of Cleopatra Hoze, *Aya, 22Maurii and Zolton as they collectively created a relaxing yet engaging atmosphere to conclude the busy day.

Cleopatra Hoze’s eclectic style marries dream pop, R&B and indie rock. Some of her biggest influences are Mitski, Olivia Rodrigo and Etta James. She began making music during quarantine, as she explains. “The first song I ever wrote was in December of 2020 and it was about a relationship that I had just gotten out of, but then I didn’t write anything after that for like a year. Then another relationship that failed inspired me to write more (laughs).”

Her first two EPs “Blue Era” and “The Actress” came out within a few months of each other in 2022. Hoze recently released her third EP “BUNNY BOY” on June 1st; explaining what she wanted to do with it, Hoze said, “I was going for something lighter and more fun with this one because the other two were definitely heavier. It’s interesting because some of my listeners said that it was off brand compared to what I usually put out but I made sure that it still stuck to my roots. I called it “BUNNY BOY” because one of the instrumentals I bought from a producer had a bunny in the artwork, and I love bunnies (laughs).”

On what she’s working on now, Hoze shares, “I have a project that I want to release in October because it’s a little spookier. I’m hoping to get more features on it so I look forward to that.”

*Aya’s pop-R&B hybrid style is catchy, broad and ethereal. They cite Jill Scott, Amy Winehouse, Jorja Smith, Mac Miller and Outkast as some of their biggest influences. *Aya has been singing their whole life but is still relatively new to making music, having only just started writing their own songs last December. “I was going through a breakup and I really missed being musical and singing,” they explain. “I thought that there was no better way to let my feelings out than to try writing songs…and I did it. The first song I wrote was “DAYLIGHT” which was about coming to terms with the fact that I’m not crazy and that my feelings are valid.”

“SWEET SONDER” is *Aya’s debut album, released in February and consisting of seven tracks. They followed it up with their single “Apartment” in May, sharing, “That song I wrote when I was having a moment of isolation where every time I dealt with people something went wrong, so it’s about how I’m much better off alone and comfortable in my bed (laughs).”

Their most recent single “Unknown” dropped at the end of June. *Aya describes the song, “It’s a stream-of-consciousness about coming to terms with needing to love yourself before you pour love into other people.”

*Aya is working on a new EP that they hope to release in the next couple months. They perform at Bremen Cafe again this weekend on July 29th and then at Upper East Bar opening for Best Impressions on August 26th.

22Maurii stylistically combines R&B and hip hop with textural ambient soundscapes and fantasy-themed imagery. Lil Uzi Vert, Michael Jackson, Bon Iver and Lord Huron are some of his biggest influences. He has been making music for about seven years, recalling, “My first song I made when my dad had this Dell computer that he had made some songs on and he had asked me to sing on one of them.”

One of 22Maurii’s recent songs “Heaven”, off his EP “US RENAISSANCE”, recently got picked up by HYFIN on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. “I went to Juneteenth and met the creative director Tarik Moody there and that’s when he caught onto me,” he explains. “I got to actually hear it too which was amazing. It showed me that anything can be done.”

22Maurii dropped two EPs in 2022, “GALOREE” and “US RENAISSANCE.” He’s currently working on a third EP, elaborating, “This project is definitely plug music-inspired. It’s this sound I’ve created called “enchanted plug” and basically it’s about heaven, the medieval renaissance, flowers, birds and angels that I’ve incorporated into my music. My grandma and my aunt put me onto that aesthetic with computer games and books and movies when I was younger. It’s going to be lit as a bitch!”

22Maurii performs at the Black Gala on August 2nd and then at Bremen Cafe again for The Passion Park Experience on August 18th.

Zolton’s sound has sat at the intersection of hip hop, R&B and electronica although he’s never been one to put himself in a box. His influences vastly range from soul and R&B artists like Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Otis Redding to contemporary trap and hip hop artists like Drake, Future, Kodak Black, and Childish Gambino to psych pop artists like Mac Demarco and Tame Impala.

He began making music in mid-2020 and picked up speed quickly with several projects and collaborations plus a boatload of singles now under his belt. “I remember when I pitched my first project to Breaking and Entering and was so nervous,” Zolton laughs. “Now it’s so funny to see back then where I was and how it feels like the world’s changed.”

His most recent album “LOVE TO REGRET” dropped earlier this year in March. Giving some background on it, Zolton shares, “My project “THE Z FILES” before that was all songs that I wrote for other artists, and we had sent out those songs to other camps. It didn’t quite pan out so I said “fuck it” and decided to drop this new project. I felt like I was losing my true passion in the sense of what my sound is so I was working on “LOVE TO REGRET” at the same time as “THE Z FILES” and it felt like it was definitely me getting my mindset back together.”

Following up “LOVE TO REGRET” was the single “Shallow” which dropped in mid-June. “We made that on a Sunday night and dropped it like four days later,” Zolton remarks.

Zolton is currently taking a bit of a step back with dropping new music in order to focus more on audio engineering and producing. “Since I’ve been helping out other artists over at Tymeless Studios, it’s felt like a good time for me to reset and hone my craft. These last few years I’ve learned a lot about different styles I could tap into but I’ve still yet to see what truly comes out of my best self.”

That said, Zolton’s still got plenty of music in the vault – keep an eye out!

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