How did you come up with your stage name?
To be honest, I didn’t actually come up with my name. My name is actually Prince however by law I cannot have Prince as a first name since the government classifies it as a title like “Mr” or “Mrs”. So I made that my middle name and chose Phoenix as my first name. The reason why I chose Phoenix as my name is because it has a symbolic meaning for me. I feel as humans every night when we go to sleep, we metaphorically kill ourselves and when we awake in the morning we are rebirthed into whatever we choose to be.
This is to say that every day is a new day and no matter our shortcomings, weaknesses, and failures the previous day, we have a choice the next morning to be whoever we want to be and go where ever we want to go in life and that our past should not define our future. However, in my personal case, this concept is easier said than done as I have a very dark history of battling depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts as you will learn when you read through this interview.
When did you discover your love for your craft and what made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in it?
To be fair, I never realized I have a craft to BE discovered as I never really thought that getting into the music industry was something that I am capable of doing or even that I am good enough to survive in this industry. As far as pursuing a career in the music industry, again I do not even think I am good enough to make this happen – this is probably because I am my own biggest critic and I am way too critical and harsh on myself. In addition to all this, I am not even sure that I will pursue a career as an artist.
My main reason for producing this piece was purely because I have had enough of feeling the way I am and I wanted my voice to be heard and the only way I knew at the time how to express myself was to share my life through the medium of a poem/song. I have been the victim of bullying almost all my life, from an infant all the way through to my mid-20s.
I copped bullying at home by my mum, I copped bullying/racism at school, and even in my close group of friends (or who I thought to be my close group of friends) I also copped bullying. As a young kid growing up, you only have three circles of people that you interact with, your family, your friends, and school.
Since I was bullied in all three circles I didn’t really know who to turn to for help or how to deal with my issues. At the ripe age of 18, all the pain and suffering drove me to turn to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. This is the point when things went from bad to worse for me. At the age of 20, I had an extremely traumatic experience while on drugs and this brought about my depression and anxiety. Again, as there was no one in my life that I could turn to for help I started drinking heavily and smoking cigarettes (not weed).
13 years later, and I am still drinking most days (if not every day). I should make one thing clear, I am not addicted to alcohol, I am addicted to escaping reality and drinking provides me with that escape. A few years ago, I was sculling vodka from the bottle and crying in bed which was a very dark spot in my life. I received a call from a friend of mine and he sounded distressed, he broke the news to me that a mutual friend of ours committed suicide.
After hearing this news, I eventually opened up to a couple of close friends about my issues. However, years later I am still battling trauma, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. So when you ask me about my craft, my craft is to just finally be free enough and comfortable enough to share my life story with the world. I want the world to know who I am and what I have been through. I want to be a voice for all those struggling, and if I can even help just one person then my work in this world is complete. My craft is to create a better future for all humans and to help anyone and everyone that I can.
Phoenix Interview with Muzique Magazine
To what or whom do you accredit your sense of style?
If I am honest, I don’t really think I have a sense of style as all I am aiming to do is share real stories with the world with the aim that people will connect with me on a more personal level. If there are people out there that have experienced bullying, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, adversity, animosity, or hostility these are the people I would like to connect with.
However, in saying this as a kid growing up I listened to Eminem a lot and always had all his CDs and music. I have been listening to him since I was ten years old and 20+ years later I am still listening to him. So I gained a lot of inspiration from him. Another artist I used to listen to a lot was Tupac and I also gained inspiration and also the courage to make this leap of faith and release my own story.
To get it confused though, I am not comparing myself to these people, I am just merely stating that these are the people I looked up to as a kid and now in my adult life I have finally gained enough inspiration and courage to share my own experiences with the world.
On your current project, how did you come up with the concept?
Honestly, this time last year I was driving and for some reason, all these lyrics were coming into my mind and brain and so I don’t forget the lyrics I would pull over on the side of the road and write the lyrics into my phone. I did this for a few days in a row and eventually, all the lyrics made an entire song/rap, and then I suddenly had a light bulb moment and I was thinking now that I have come up with these lyrics why not share them with the world?
It only took me a couple of days to invent the rap so I knew in my heart that it was something that I was potentially destined to do. I gained courage from the fact that it was fairly easy for me to come up with these lyrics as it lead me to believe that I really do have a story to tell.
However, it has taken me almost a year to actually take action because I am extremely apprehensive to be so vulnerable in the face of a world that has for the most part been quite cruel to me. I didn’t know how people are going to react to it especially the bullies out there, they might just find it funny and laugh in my face for all I know. I also, don’t know how my family will react if they view this video and see me speak about things that they had no idea about.
However, I have reached a point where feedback whether negative or positive shouldn’t impact me and I am still worthy enough to have my voice heard. So when it comes down to it, this isn’t really a concept but more so a vision for me. I have a vision in my mind of what I want to do and where I want to go and this is how I want to get there. Whether it is the correct way or not is not important at this stage as I know I have a big heart and want the best for almost everyone.
What are some of your greatest challenges, and what is your greatest attribute when it comes to your work ethic?
My greatest challenges in my life have definitely been adversity, animosity, and hostility from fellow students at my school. I have always been subject to racism and bullying growing up.
As I have mentioned before the bullying started at home and continued in my group of friends as well. At the time, I was naïve and I was hanging around people who I thought were my friends as I didn’t have anyone else to hang out with, and instead of being alone I would sit there and cop it with everyone.
Another challenge of mine is that I don’t love myself and I feel worthless and useless in this world – which is another reason I have been driven to release this video as I want to create change in an otherwise cruel world.
My greatest attributes are that I am very empathetic and very passionate/compassionate. When I was a school student, every time I saw another kid get bullied my heart would die for them and I always felt guilty that I didn’t help them. Which is part of my empathy. I am passionate about everything I do, whether it is playing sports or reading, or helping others, my passion is what drives me to live another day.
I would also say that in the face of all my issues I have been quite persistent and perseverant (this includes my liver). There is a dark joke somewhere in there. Which leads me to my last greatest attribute which is my sense of humor. I tend to sometimes laugh at my struggles because there is literally nothing else I can do.
Are you the best at what you do in your opinion?
If we are speaking from a strictly professional point of view the short answer to this question would be definitely not. The reason for this is that there are so many talented people in this world and I don’t really put myself on the same level as them.
However, I have a story to tell and if we are speaking from a personal point of view I think I am the best as I have so much to offer this world and I wish to begin here. My empathy and passion is unmatched and that is what I am hoping to share with the world and make this a happy place and put a smile on everyone’s face.
What are the plans for the near future?
The plans are to take every day as it comes. I would like to continue working on my craft and improving every day. I am not really sure what the near future has in store for me so I cannot really comment. Specifically, as I am still struggling with all my demons and everything that has been aforementioned.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank, and shout outs?
Firstly, I would just like to thank myself for being so resilient. The past 13 or 14 years have been absolutely horrid for me and the fact that I am still here still battling is a testament to my character. I feel like I have a very strong character to still wake up every day and live my life.
However, there are a few people I would like to thank as they gave me the courage and inspiration to actually share my video. Obviously, as I have mentioned earlier Eminem and Tupac were great influences in my life as I really connected with their music. Eminem because he was bullied and so was I, and Tupac because he copped racism and so did I.
Another shout-out I would like to give is to Gary Vaynerchuk, as he made me believe in myself and encouraged me to post my video through his social media and all his words of wisdom.
How can fans find you?
To be fair, I don’t think I have any fans but if people want to find me my full name is “Phoenix Prince Azim” and they can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube by typing in my name. If they then want to become a fan then that is up to them, no expectations by me. If there are any fans out there, they will be the ones that really connect with my story and struggles and that is all I could ever hope for.
What suggestions do you have for other artists like yourself?
My one and only suggestion would be to just be yourself. If you are expressing your authentic self and you are passionate about what you do and you have a story to tell then that is enough. Success is when you don’t need other people’s validation for expressing yourself.
You have already achieved success by putting your material out there – that is better than not doing anything. You will always regret the opportunities you did not take, but you will never regret taking action and failing because failing is part of the process and that is where it starts for me.