He dresses like Zorro and sounds like Frank Ocean.
Maybe the only thing more beguiling about Izell Pyramid than his stage presence is his indecipherable personality. Below the lavish sleep mask and spools of Auto-Tune is a careful, deliberate songwriter and a socially vigilant observer, a Twin Cities music veteran who’s striking out into anonymity for the sake of his art.
“The music is so much bigger than the person I am—I’m just a dude,” Pyramid says. “I’ve been let down by meeting people that I thought were super ethereal, crazy minds, and they ended up being kinda shitty. I never want anyone to have to go through that with me.”
What we can tell you about Izell Pyramid is that it’s actually a duo—a pair of siblings in their 20s from south Minneapolis. One sings and performs, and the other maneuvers the beats. The rest, for the time being, is hidden from view.
Pyramid’s first big splash came on Bobby Raps and Corbin’s 2015 EP, Couch Potato, where Pyramid took over the vocals on “Blame the Internet.” But Pyramid claims most people mistook his subdued croon for Corbin’s own. It’s an easy mistake to make: Pyramid and Corbin are equally enigmatic, and all three vocalists are students of Ryan Olson’s warbly next stage of the Minneapolis Sound.
“We’re all just sad, angry, weird kids,” Pyramid says with a chuckle.
Released on September 29 via Olcott’s Totally Gross National Product, Pyramid’s debut EP, Priestcraft, already has over 60,000 listens on Soundcloud, even though the cagey local still hasn’t scheduled a show to promote it.
Perhaps that’s because a kind of truth emerges from the artifice. There’s an elemental humanity to the way Pyramid sings “I want to be free, but you won’t let me” on “Running,” his voice bursting into a panoply of anguished melodies, that makes you want to strip away all the unnecessary bullshit in your life. It’s like an incantation breathed from the throat chakra of a futurist monk.
Before emerging under the pseudonym, Pyramid was a materialistic rapper who recorded Lil Durk-style joints with Audio Perm. But adopting a shroud of new-age spiritualism has allowed Pyramid to access a truer form of expression. The pyramid is a powerful and divine symbol, and the artist beneath the mythology uses the guise to drive himself closer to a truer expression.
“This is real heart music,” Pyramid says. “It’s a tough emotional process for me to get in the zone and write songs and stand on stage. The name lets me encompass the whole vibe.”