The great poet Jay-Z once said “I believe everybody in the world is born with genius-level talent. Apply yourself to whatever you’re genius at and you can do anything in the world. “
That quote easily applies to my latest interview guest Vocalz Iz. The singer has just embarked on his latest business venture and took out the time to chop it up with me.
Reviews & Dunn – First and foremost, big ups on starting your Hot Sauce Line. How many attempts did it take to get the flavor just right?
VOCALZ IZ: Thank you so much. It was hard trying to figure out what I wanted out of a hot sauce. I am not into those set your tongue on fire sauces. I wanted something to enhance a meal, not overtake it. It took a few months to try TONS of sauces before zeroing in on a style. Then a few more months to work on recipes and tasting before looking it in.
Reviews & Dunn – Was cooking something that came naturally to you?
VOCALZ IZ: – I come from a HUGE family. My mom has 16 brothers and sisters. Music and Food were the two constants in my life. I started helping in the kitchen at 5 when my grandmother gave me my 1st cookbook. I was always interested in making tasty dishes and stayed watching my elders cooking. As I got older I cooked at a few restaurants in New Orleans’ French Quarter and I even did some small catering jobs. I love cooking. It is a part of me.
Reviews & Dunn – Was it challenging to come up with a product name?
VOCALZ IZ: – Actually, the names came before actually doing the sauces. I was eating out at a restaurant and jokingly said, “This needs that NOLA Heat, or better yet, that Creole Fyre”, and everyone laughed, but it stayed in my mind and that night I started researching how to have my own hot sauce. The next day I was designing the logo, which was very fun and here I am today with an actual product.
Reviews & Dunn – What can you tell us about your other business venture, the T-shirt line?
VOCALZ IZ: – New Orleans is more than a city, but a feeling to me. So many times when I think of home, which I miss greatly, I always think of ideas to showcase the things I love about the city or ways to have that feeling with me. What better way to show and share my love for the city than wearing it. I started with my company Soulyfe, LLC, where I was planning on just doing music, then I transitioned to a shirt to represent my high school, but then the ideas kept coming. I came up with the idea for Lagniappe Lovers™ which was well received, and when I designed the logo for the hot sauce, I wanted it to have a presence and grab attention. The Fleur De Lis is the symbol of the city and I felt if someone saw this logo it would be eye catching and also give you a little taste of that New Orleans swagger. So it was a no brainer for me to put it on shirts, pillows, mugs, etc. Sharing that Crescent City love with the world.
Reviews & Dunn – You are a NOLA native, so do you ever take offense when folks who aren’t from the area use terms like Cajun to describe their flavorless cooking?
VOCALZ IZ: – Funny you ask that. New Orleans folks have that conversation all the time. Creole and Cajun food are very different. Cajun uses a lot of wild game and thusly have to use strong seasoning to tame that flavor, so salt, cayenne, Worchester sauce etc. That’s why people think BOLD flavors from that cuisine while New Orleans creole cooking has a better depth of flavor, more seafood, fresh veggies, sweet desserts, more city style and refined eating.
Reviews & Dunn – As a music head, when you’re cooking, is there a particular artist you keep on repeat while working in the kitchen?
VOCALZ IZ: That is a great question. Even in my restaurant cook days, I could not be in the kitchen without some music playing. They go hand in hand for me. I tend to enjoy Maze ft. Frankie Beverly (That’s the New Orleans in me), or Moonchild and Alex Isley. They smooth music helps me concentrate on bringing the flavor out of food.
Reviews & Dunn – May eons ago you were in a singing group. Hypothetically, the group opened up for Usher on his Confessions tour at the New Orleans stop. Mr. Raymond is highly impressed with the group, and after the show, he wants you to take him to the city’s best gumbo and Po Boy spot. Where are you taking him?
VOCALZ IZ: – Ohhhhhh. For Gumbo, I would try to take him to someone’s home because that is always the best, but for a one-stop shop, I would take him to Lil Dizzy’s in Treme. Their Gumbo, Po-Boys, and Fried chicken are amazing, ask Beyoncé’ and Jay-Z.
Reviews & Dunn – I truly enjoyed your debut album. Do you have any plans to revisit that part of your life?
VOCALZ IZ: Thank you for that. I definitely am. I have been working on a new single for a while, but unfortunately, music folks can be slow moving so my collaborators have set me back. So I had to switch it up and work with new people, so the feeling-out process takes time. However, I do believe once this single hits, hopefully, this summer, it will make some noise.
Reviews & Dunn – It’s not a Reviews & Dunn interview if I don’t find a way to throw New Edition in the mix. So if you had a food truck where R&B artists inspire the weekly theme, what would a three-course New Edition-themed meal from the culinary skills Vocalz Iz look like?
VOCALZ IZ: – Hahaha, I love this question. I would start with an appetizer of the “How Do You Like Your Love Served – BBQ Shrimp with French Bread”, a Main Course of the “All for Love Fried Seafood Sampler Platter”, and Finally dessert, our famous “A Little Bit of Love is All It Takes Beignet/Praline Combo.”
Reviews & Dunn – Is there anything you want to add, and where can fans find you on social media and buy your Hot Sauce?
VOCALZ IZ: – First I want to say, Thank you to Reviews & Dunn for always supporting and sharing great interviews and reviews. I want to encourage all the dreamers out there. NEVER give up. Failure is just part of the learning process. Be assured it WILL happen. I am planning on more music, more food items, a cookbook, and many other products. You can find my NOLA Heat™ and Creole Fyre™ hot sauce and my T-shirts and Merch at https://bit.ly/SouLyfeProducts My socials for my music are @vocalziz on all platforms and my business is at www.soulyfellc.com for all my endeavors