By Lisa Morgan

This band took Goldenvoice’s Tachevah Competition by the throat and won the prized opportunity to play the high profile Block Party.  They had only put the band together 6 months prior with that very goal in mind.  This tenacious tribe was still in high school at the time.  Some of them still are.  Since then, major changes have taken place in order to help these young, determined musicians achieve their highest music career goals.

The first major change was bringing vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist, Mari Brossfield, on board.  “We found her about one year ago,” shared Ison Van Winkle, front man for the band.  Sometimes when I would write, I’d write with a female vocal in mind.  We auditioned a couple of other girls and it just didn’t work out.  But then my former guitar teacher, Mikael Jacobson, put a recital together and I heard his niece, Mari.  I thought her vocals were unique and mature; they just stood out.  We didn’t even realize she was only 14.  Besides, we all really like being around her.  It’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world to find someone who is willing to practice 6 hours a day, 4 days a week.  Her parents were a bit hesitant at first, but even they are on board and are a great part of this team.  Having Mari with us brings an interesting element.  It opens up a path to explore more electronics and keyboards, integrating that with our core rock guitar and drums.”

Another very obvious change for this power four piece is the name.  This came with one of the biggest and most exciting developments for the young band – they signed with a label.  “We were leaving Coachella 2014,” shared Ison.  “Jacob and I were in the car and this guy knocks on my window, ‘Can you give me a ride to my hotel?  I’ll give you $100.’  On the way, we showed him a video of performing ‘ODUYA’, and he really liked it.  A year later, he contacted us again.  They invested a lot of time looking at us and decided they liked our vibe and image and everything seemed to line up.  In October, we met with the VP and his response was, “There are 20 different bands within your sound, but you don’t sound like any one of them.”

“Getting signed by Hood and Associate and getting the financial support has been huge,” Ison continued.  “They suggested the name change.  They felt it was to ‘young’, and wanted something edgier.  We spent 3 months coming up with a name that everybody could agree on.  IIIz (pronounced “eyes”).  It felt fitting for the direction we’re going in.  A consistent theme in the songs I write is about perspective.”

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That wasn’t the only direction the label pointed them in.  They also contracted
award winning producer and artist, Ronnie King.  “IIIz have the potential,” King shared about these artists.  “They are very driven and they know what they want. That was very intriguing to me. It really pushed me to go outside of my preconceived notions and discover that they are much deeper and more focused than I originally thought.”

Drummer Ross Murakami was also given the opportunity to be mentored by world renowned drummer, Alvin Taylor (Elton John, Eric Burdon, George Harrison, Billy Preston,Bob Welch).  That mentorship included one on one drum lessons and the sharing of some insider, industry secrets.  “Alvin started going through our songs, helping us hone in on what we really wanted to do,” says Ison.  “He helped us out tremendously in getting our songs ready to record.”

IIIz is still in the recording process with about 12-13 songs recorded so far, which ones and how they will be released is still in the planning stages.  Meanwhile, the energetic and engaging performers have not had a chance to play out in over 6 months, so you can count on an all-out, rocking performance from this crew when they do.

IIIz is composed of Ison Van Winkle – Vocals, Guitar, Keyborads; Ross Murakami – Drums, Vocals; Jacob Gutierrez – Lead Bass, Vocals; and Mari Brossfield – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard.  For now, you can only catch the well-seasoned and itching to play IIIz at one of the two following shows

Sunday, Nov 1st –  111 Music Festival mobile concert and the Festival Lawn, Main Stage at 8:30 p.m., and if the new management gives the ok,  Friday, Nov 21st – Local Music Showcase with Mike Mozingo (Mix 100.5) at Schmidy’s Tavern, Palm Desert.

This is definitely a band to watch closely in 2016.  You can do so by going to their Facebook page @ facebook.com/TheYipYops

or their website: www.theyipyops.com

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