When curating the lineup of a thought-driven festival like OZY Fest, electropop group A R I Z O N A just makes sense.
Aside from boasting more than half a billion worldwide streams and counting from their debut album "Gallery," the band is comprised of a "melting pot" trio of performers driven by a shared love of music and diversity. Nate Esquite, David Labuguen, and Zachary Charles are among dozens of artists, thought leaders, politicians, chefs and athletes set for the fourth annual OZY Fest, known as "New York’s answer to SXSW."
Instead of focusing entirely on the music, OZY creates a space for New Yorkers to share cultural, political and creative ideas.
"Things can be fun, but enriching experiences are things we look for. Any way we can connect with people in a way that’s more than just face value is a meaningful thing to us," the band’s Zachary Charles says.
Fresh off a national headlining tour, which helped raise funds for a suicide prevention nonprofit — and sold out at NYC’s Irving Plaza and Brooklyn Steel — the New Jersey group comes to Central Park on Saturday.
"It’s a safe bet to assume a relatively interesting and wild party of a time," Charles teases for fans who haven’t yet gotten the chance to see the "Nostalgic" artists perform. He adds, "it just so happens that, sometimes through planning and sometimes through being us, that we crank the knob a little hard, as far as festivals are concerned."
Below, Charles discusses how the band’s diversity has influenced their sound and what’s to come from their sophomore album.
What intrigued the group about being a part of a festival that’s encouraging conversation beyond the music world?
First and foremost, I think education is probably one of the greatest beginnings to finding a solution of a lot of the issues we have in the world. One of the best forms of education is experience. The largest divide we face involves things like communication and culture and I think any event that happens to be a place where one can go to firsthand experience different cultures and points of view is a great start to broadening people’s horizon. When you add different passions into the mix, it really helps fuel that mix. With politics, art, food, music, they’re all driven by passionate people. It’s a great melting pot for learning about each other. Especially being multicultural and of different backgrounds ourselves as a band, it speaks to who we are.
Do you think that has influenced what you create?
Absolutely. I know for a fact we all grew up listening to very different kinds of music. We grew up in different worlds, in various scenes and cultures. Maybe it’s being Jersey boys, I don’t know, but there was a connection that happened between us over our wanting to change our collective industries, but also the world. Then, there’s this desire to break free of the norms or statistics we probably all would have fallen into or become. When we do come together to create something, a lot of our initial background influence comes out … Dave comes from a family of Filipino immigrants; Nate is Mexican and Guatemalan, and we were all raised in different parts of society.
What has that process looked like so far working on your upcoming sophomore album?
The album process has been difficult because we’ve been on the road so much … We are a group of guys who never intended on necessarily being a band with any followers. We initially made music because it was our way out. We had given up. We didn’t want to make music for other people anymore with countless hours on the grind. So, we sat down and said we’ll make music by ourselves, for ourselves. And that’s it. We became A R I Z O N A. So, we lost some of that best friend sit down therapy session for the song process this year because we’ve been on the road. We had to bring ourselves back to the center, and we did.
Do you have a projected release date you’re able to share?
Even if I wasn’t able to share it, I’d probably say it. I’m going to go ahead and say we’re looking for the top of the year. Only because, even if we finished it all tomorrow, no one wants to release an album over the holidays to compete with Mariah Carey’s best Christmas single, you know?