Artist Spotlight: Cephas Azariah


Artist Spotlight: Cephas Azariah

In the wake of his new 'if I can be honest' EP with Elle Limebear, we talked to Reflections label rising star Cephas Azariah about everything from Brian Eno to everyday life.

Hey, Cephas! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? What’s your musical background?

I’m an Indian-born British composer making music for contemplation with a background in writing for film and TV. Growing up, music was a big part of my home and had pockets of music lessons after school. Whilst gradually growing in competency, I never set out to do music as a job but life worked out in a way that I ended up graduating with a Music degree along with a post grad in The Arts & Theology. During my final year, I was inspired by what Tony Anderson and Ólafur Arnalds were trailblazing and decided that’s the space I want to occupy as well. You don’t see many brown/poc musicians in that “neo-classical” or “ambient-crossover” genre so I’m grateful to be in it and create a unique sound that people resonate with.

How would you describe your ‘sound’?

Simple repeated piano shapes brushed with organic textures, synth-orchestra hybrid sounds and granular elements. It's classically inspired by not classical at all. Think Brian Eno, Ólafur Arnalds, Hania Rani and Tony Anderson.

How did you first get in touch with Reflections?

Sam Burger - one of the writers at Involved was kind enough to send my music to the team. Thankfully they liked what they heard and here we are!

You’ve just released your new ‘if I can be honest’ EP, with Elle Limebear. Could you tell us a little bit about it?

'if I can be honest' is a project aimed at underscoring everyday life. Think of the most mundane parts of life - morning routines, chores, wellness patterns, unwind moments, studying, working - this project is for all that. It has, what we believe, a healing quality and a sonic position to calm the mind and any environment it is played in. 

Elle Limebear and Cephas Azariah
Elle Limebear and Cephas Azariah

How did you first get in touch with Elle Limebear, and what was it like working with a collaborator on this release?

I met Elle during a gospel charity event in Brighton a while ago and ended up touring with her as keys player - the idea for this collab sort of came about from little ambient moments during soundchecks. So we decided to try and package some of that into a cohesive project. We explored Elle’s voice as an instrument more than lyrics/melody which opened a whole new sonic world for me. So I intentionally produced sounds that allowed space for that and I think the EP has a conversational vibe to it between my signature elements and Elle’s voice.

How would you hope someone would feel while they listen to your music?

Honestly - one word - peace. There’s so much going on in our personal lives and in the world; I want to bring peace into those spaces to help people so they can carry on, or underscore their “pauses” and “stops”. I like to unhurry life through music. 

What are your favourite ways to relax and unwind when life gets challenging?

I tend to live a simple life in general. I value things like silence and being bored. Also little things like prayer, yoga, cooking, cleaning, gratitude and being in nature goes a long way…

A lot of your tracks are named after sleep, the moon and night-time. What is it about that time of day that is so appealing and inspiring to you?

Night-time is important to me because that’s when rest takes place. So I’ve tried to make musical sense to that by paying attention to my own sleeping patterns, the moon and even isolating my senses to notice the stillness that naturally occurs at that time of day.

Cephas in his home studio
Cephas in his home studio

Who are some of your favourite producers (either within or outside of Anjuna) at the moment?

Go to artists/producers are Hania Rani, ANNA, Ólafur Arnalds and Tony Anderson. Within the Anjuna world I really like what Eli & Fur, Nils Hoffmann and Marsh have put out recently.

Do you have any tips for anyone who’s just started in making music and production?

Do whatever you can to deal with the fear of what people think and overcome it - talk to someone or see a therapist. Typically this is what prevents people from creating, sharing and taking risks. Try to find a little niche within the genre that you want to occupy - if you’re true to yourself, this will happen naturally because no one else can create like you. 

Lastly - be in it long enough for it to work out.

And finally, what’s coming up for you in 2024?

I’ve been working on a long-form project and looking forward to getting that out into the world. Also there’s something about being in a room with an upright piano with the rest of my set-up and playing my music to a live audience that energises me - hopefully 2024 is the year where this becomes a thing!

Click the button below to listen to the new 'if I can be honest' EP, out now on Reflections.