by Executive Editor Timantha Norman
Terms like the Renaissance Man (or Woman) and Triple Threat have been used in reference to individuals with a wide variety of intellectual, scientific, and artistic abilities throughout history. There has been a long and storied legacy in our country of black performers in particular who possess a wealth of talents that have left an indelible mark on the collective culture of the world.
I spoke with “Multi-hyphenate” artist Tizzi Dyer about the varied experiences that have shaped her sense of self, her own personal philosophy on life and art, and her creative plans for the future.
Timantha Norman: Could you tell me a little about your upbringing? Where did you grow up?
Tizzi Dyer: Well, I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On the north side, 46th St. N. And Elgin. I was adopted by my grandmother. My upbringing was pretty cool. I played a lot of sports: basketball, karate, soccer, golf. I was very active as a child. I faced a lot of challenges though. My natural inclination growing up was to get in trouble. I would skip school just to be on the other side of the street, like “For what?” [laughs]. I was in band. I’m a percussionist. I play the snare, bass, tenor. I did get a scholarship for golf. As a child, I would naturally talk to myself in the mirror and I would have these whimsical thoughts. It felt like that side of me was suppressed though. I kind of grew up staying to myself but still free if that makes sense? I would play different roles, try on different accents, like a Jamaican patois, or “Sumting’ lik’ dat.” I moved to Atlanta for like a year when I was 19 going on 20, was on tour with Future for awhile, and it was cool. I saw a lot and experienced a lot. It was like I lost and found myself during that time. After those two years, I’m really just happy I’m alive. I feel like people rap about the gang lifestyle or wanting to do this or these drugs and stuff. But when you actually get into it, it’s a whole ‘nother story. I definitely got into some things that weren’t of me. I ended up having to move, like I left where I was immediately. It was one of those situations. I ended up staying with my grandmother. I got myself off of things that weren’t of me. I actually tried to commit suicide three times and God was just like, “Listen. I have more for you. And obviously you suck at this. Don’t do it again.” After that, I experienced a moment at the age of 21 that was like a rebirth for me. I had a whole new outlook on life, a whole new thought process. I went from negativity, having guns pointed at my head down in Atlanta and so on, to really turning my life around. It was a light, a small, tiny light that was peeking through. I just grasped ahold of that and didn’t let it go. The mission of my life now is to inspire others, to open the ears of the Land of the Lost and help bring them to the Land of the Living by all means, regardless of who tries to stop me. I must inspire because when I was down, I didn’t have that, you know? I would just tell people to always trust their intuition. Trust your gut. What I experienced I don’t want anyone to go through. If I can reach those ears that are shut, I need to and I must. That’s my goal. I’m doing that through my music, my art, my creativity. Working on behalf of my ancestors. That’s my mission.
Norman: How did you keep your creative spirit intact when others have tried to stifle it?
Dyer: My writing really helped me. As a child, I could pick up on feelings and I would have visions of that person going through whatever they went through. I would write about it but I used to get in trouble for it. When I would go back and look at things I had written, it was like the things I had written kind of manifested into life. I was writing to the Ode of Me if that makes sense. Also, my grandmother. My grandmother helped me stay grounded and rooted. I did have my share of bullies and folks that would talk down on me growing up and it made me get into a suppressive, depressive state. Even with this going on though, the gift in me, when I saw others being hurt or bullied or whatever, I spoke up. Just having that faith that a better me was coming. Though I’m going through this trauma, there’s gotta be something better coming at the end. And other family members helped me get through as well, my nana and my uncle.
Norman: What’s the thought process and the philosophy behind your creative brand Khaotic Bliss?
Dyer: Khaotic Bliss is a lifestyle. From my darkness I found my light. Negative and positive. The sun and the moon. Even though people tell us to be like this or “stick to the script” of what society says, we have to push past that. Society can put you in some suppressive bullshit, you know? [laughs] Society can have you overdosing. That’s what my life used to be: an overdose. There was a point when I didn’t care about my life. I was okay with dying. I didn’t give a fuck. I think by God placing people throughout certain experiences throughout my life giving me messages was important. Even from a director during my time with Future telling me I needed to go home, someone just checking up on me even when I felt like nobody was there, that was my bliss. Somehow, I kept that positivity, I kept that light, that faith throughout my belief. That’s Khaotic Bliss. I also want to help those who have been wrongfully incarcerated and help them get their reparations – people like my dad who, even though the courts said he had mental health issues, was sentenced to life and was held without bail, through this brand. I also want to create a safe haven for those experiencing mental illness. I helped my grandmother raise five kids and some of them suffer from different mental illnesses. We were trying to get help but weren’t getting what we needed. We even had one police officer come to our house with a shotgun when one of the boys, a 14 year old kid, was going through something at the time. He was dealing with schizophrenia, and I realized how sad it was, the way he was being treated. They gave him all these medicines, doped him up. Another part of this mission is to let people know that they can be themselves without being on all of these medicines. They had me on so many medicines when I was young. I’m supposed to be on medicine now but I stopped that. I just want to help. All they do is put mentally ill people in jails or facilities all their lives, put them on medicines, and sugar, sugar. That’s what’s controlling the mind. I just want to show people that you can be you. This is facilitated through my art.
Norman: What are some of the creative projects on the horizon for you?
Dyer: I have new music coming out with my producer 2PEECE. I plan on doing a deluxe version of my “Mango Tree” single. The mango tree symbolizes the Tree of Life- love, justice, patience, no hate, not a judgemental place. I want to take that single and make it into a full album. I want this Mango Tree album to be the first in a larger Khaotic Bliss discography. The “Aqua Blue 22” single will be the next one I make into an album. I also have a new single coming out soon called “P.I.C.” It stands for Pussy In Control. We as women have to take back ownership of our power. We have to realize that we are truly beautiful. Even if you have to wear a shirt with affirmations to get that extra self esteem, do that [laughs], you know what I mean? I also have two plays I’m acting in coming out soon. The one coming in September is called She Like Girls that’s being led my international director Manuel Ortiz. That’s running from September 5th-8th at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The other is called The Future Without You and that’s coming in October. I just want people to know that there is hope. There is faith to be had within yourself. I need people to go toward the light and positivity in life and harness that power.
Photo credit: Neisha T. Ford Photography