‘This album is a concept album of not being able to sleep’: An interview with Jamie Isaac
Interview by Karan Teli
23-year-old electronic producer and singer Jamie Isaac is gearing up for the release of his second studio album ‘(4:30) Idler’ this summer. His last album, Couch Baby (Revisited) was released in March 2016, just over a year ago. When talking to me about how long he had been working on his latest album, Jamie said “About a year. After Couch Baby, I took time off from making music. Touring is really strenuous and I just needed the inspiration.”
14HQ: So over the past year, what music have you been listening too?
Jamie Isaac: I went to a record store in San Francisco. I found this Stan Getz record and it was perfect. I was listening to it on this street, on a really sunny day. I said to myself, ‘this is exactly what I want my next record to sound like.’ That was the main burst of inspiration. I’ve been listening to a lot of Yussef Kamaal. R&B and Hip-Hop of course. SZA is amazing.
The genre of Jamie Isaac’s music is highly debatable to his fans and listeners. Some describe it as ‘Jazzy Hip-Hop’ or ‘like being on an all-night journey on the night bus.’ After chuckling at the descriptions I gave him, Jamie went on to discuss how he views his own music. “I’ve never ever wanted to make party music. You, on your bed at 3 AM and it’s you and your music. That’s what I wanted. I want it to be something you really take in, not something you blast through speakers. It’s like a one to one session with someone, as I talk about my personal experiences with love and loss.”
In the past, I’ve heard you call yourself a ‘producer who sings, not a singer or songwriter.’ 2 albums later, is that still the case?
I just stay at home and make beats. It’s something I love doing. But on this album, I try to push myself as a singer. On Couch Baby, I didn’t know who I was. Now, I’m 23, I’m sure of myself. This is what I have to say.
Why is the album called (4:30) Idler?
It tackles my insomnia. This album is a concept album of not being able to sleep. You ever have that feeling when you’re in bed and can’t sleep, thinking of the craziest things. Then you think of something nice and you’re almost asleep. Then the crazy thoughts come back and you’re wide awake again. I wanted to make something like that; something harsh and sweet.
When discussing music with Jamie, one thing I quickly learnt about the creative process is how natural everything is with him; nothing is forced. When asked about the themes and ideas spoke about on this album, Jamie replied “It happened really naturally. I noticed I was writing everything past 2 AM. It has a really natural element to it. But after I came up with the concept and the name, I did change certain productions. I wrote about 35 tracks for the album. Then I had to bring it down to 11, which was super difficult.”
My favourites are Slurp and Eyes Closed. Do you have favourites on the album?
I’m really glad you like those songs. Slurp is mine. Eyes Closed is a close second. With Slurp, I wanted to make it cheesy. It’s cheesy but it’s also dark; you don’t know if you’re happy or sad.
There are no listed features on the album. Was this an intentional decision?
I wanted to separate myself from other musicians. I kind of wanted to pave away for myself, without any other involvement. It was so personal to me, I just wanted to me, myself and I. That doesn’t rule out future collaborations though.
Speaking of collaborations, who are some of your dream collaborations?
Noname. I’m a big fan of what she does and her vibe, her production. I love female vocalists.
For those unaware; Jamie Isaac and fellow Londoner and artist King Krule are best friends and roommates. When asked about his friendship with the musician, Jamie did not hesitate. “We’ve literally known each other since we were kids. It’s fucking surreal that we both do music, were so proud of each other. Once you started making music, people start coming into your life, but with us, music has nothing to do with our friendship. We’d still be best friends if we stopped making music today.”
You’ve got 3 shows coming up; London, New York City and Los Angeles. I’m assuming, being a Londoner, that London is the show your most excited for?
For sure. It’s where I grew up. I’m super excited for Village Underground. That’s my biggest London show to date. With London crowds, there’s a connection. The crowd are there for you if you come from London. In London, it’s a mutual love. My concerts are really romantic too.
What are some cities and countries you’d love to play in one day?
I would love to go to Japan and South Korea. Would love to tour there. Hopefully one day in the future. I love the culture, I’ve been to Japan so many times but never had the pleasure of performing.
Away from music, I’ve read you enjoy script writing – is this something you plan to pursue in future?
I love it. I love storytelling. It’s really calming. The main thing I want to do is go into soundtrack music. Create music for films, with an orchestra. Script writing is one thing. I wrote a film just to create the music for it.
What else does Jamie Isaac do for fun?
Watching movies. Rope by Alfred Hitchcock. It’s based on a play. Listen, watch it tonight! It’s amazing. Other than that, just normal stuff. PlayStation. When I and Archy (King Krule) are home we play Fortnite a lot. I just downloaded it on my phone.
Before we go, let me just talk to the music fan in you. If you could have your dream festival line up, you get to pick 3 artists, dead or alive, who are you going to watch?
Oh, that’s a sick question. Chet Baker. Marvin Gaye. Okay, let me pick someone alive. Beyonce. Wow, that’s a crazy line up. That would be like something out of Disney.