Izera Stephen never fails to draw a crowd. Whether you know him from his heavy beats and deft hands or by his signature silver aviators and eighties glam rock locks – the Rundle Mall regular is a firm favourite with the people of Adelaide.
It’s lucky because much of Izera’s self-proclaimed “passionate, furious, otherworldly” music is fuelled by his audience’s mood.
“When you have a crowd of people and people are into it, I work off that really well. The more vibe there is, the better I go.”
Starting out on the busking scene over nine years ago, Izera (real name Andrew) quickly established a place for himself thanks to his unique eighties-esque sound and enigmatic stage (street) presence. He attacks each performance like a jazz player; completely off the cuff and with great vigour.
“I sort of play in the moment. There is no real planning. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
His love of eighties music stems back to his childhood (he was an early fan of Tina Turner, Gary Glitter and Suzi Quatro), when he would run around his backyard mimicking favourite tracks. Nowadays his connection with the genre is less about the funky beats and more about the freedom it gives him to be himself.
“I like the loneliness of it. A lot of eighties music was very lonely sounding, it was very detached. That’s where the magic is for me, when people are detached from society and the world and they are just pleasing themselves.”
A self-described “genuine, honest to god misfit,” Izera enjoys disappearing into the character he creates when performing.
“When I am playing 183 beats per minute, going hell for leather, hair is everywhere, big crowd of people – everything just disappears. All my stress, all my problems disappear when I am right in the zone.”
Izera has a sense of humour about reactions to his performance style and sound.
“I have found that most people who enjoy white wine, don’t like my music.”
Underneath the raging beats and theatrical moves is a guy expressing the truest version of himself.
“It’s just a talent quest now so you get a lot of people out there, all playing guitar, all singing ‘Hallelujah’, all doing the same thing as everyone else. And I think like, ‘Dude, there is nothing against that but find yourself. Don’t do that, find yourself.’”
Izera juggles part-time work at Jaycar Electronics with his late-night performances. He doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon.
“I think it’s who I am in a weird kind of way. I don’t really fit anywhere else.”
Which South Australian street performer would you like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments, below.