Currently based in Birmingham, England, IsaacO is a Nigerian-born artist with a unique approach to music and life. Combining his Nigerian heritage with his English experiences, IsaacO has a soothing, insightful and engaging sound. We speak with him about his new single ‘Hopeless And Lonely’, musical inspiration, future plans and much more!
What is the backstory to your single?
This track is about the effects of COVID-19 on one’s mental health as people around the country are experiencing job insecurity, relationship uncertainty and a fear of loneliness. This track was actually written in the first lockdown where we wanted to express how the whole situation made us feel; from the fear of isolation and loneliness to the loss, from the anxiety to all the hurt this situation has caused. This track was written with my long-term collaborator and producer Theo “T.O” Davis and songwriter Josh Wheatley.
What is the most difficult aspect of recording and producing a single?
The most difficult part of recording and producing a single is making sure the song first of all is good enough to release and the product (music production and vocals together) made reflects the beauty and emotion intended to be conveyed of that particular song. This is a process we go through with every song we write and intend on releasing.
Who or what inspires your music?
Our own personal experiences and the human experience from birth to death whether that is choosing to follow a certain path and pursuing your dreams, loneliness and relationship loss. We are very much inspired by other artists who released music that talked about the current times they were in like Nina Simone, Bob Dylan and Sam Cooke.
If you could change anything about the single, what would it be?
Good question! A major change we did do was choosing not to release an alternative version of the song. We actually had recorded a version with a fuller sound and production (with drums, bass guitar and piano) but we felt that it did not convey the emotion we had in mind the song. We decided to release a more stripped-back and piano-led version of the song to highlight and emphasise the meaning of the lyrics. We feel that this allows the listener to listen to the words of the song and contemplate on what they are saying.
What do you think is the most challenging part of producing and releasing music in today’s digital climate?
I think in this climate there are so many people who want to release music and are doing so online wanting to gain people’s attention. When you scroll through social media, you are inundated with multiple music social media adverts wanting you to listen to their stuff. So, it feels like everyone is fighting to be heard. Nevertheless, we feel so honoured to be able to share our music with other people and to get such positive heartwarming responses from fans of our music is definitely a bonus. Theo and I both love hearing how our fans and new listeners discover our music and how it makes them feel.
What is your creative process?
Mostly, I just mess around with a melody for a while, save it and see if I remember it in a few days or weeks. If it survives the test of time, I’ll continue working to flesh it out into a full song. I will then run it by Theo and then we find the right production to suit the vibe of the song.
What advice would you give to emerging musicians?
Our advice would be to find out what makes a good song by studying some of the greatest songs ever written. I think for us this has helped us to develop a sense of quality control meaning that Theo and I only release a song we both believe in. Another thing is learning how to play an instrument as it does make it so much easier to come up with ideas when songwriting and producing.
Do you have any future plans?
There is definitely more music in the pipeline. The upcoming releases will form a body of work focused on presenting the events of 2020 in a balanced way. Our heritage is very important to us, I am Nigerian and Theo is Ghanaian and one of the significant events of this year has been the battle for racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. One of the songs we are planning on releasing in the near future is called ‘Miracle’, which will talk of a future world we want to live in where there is greater unity, understanding and love for one another in light of these events of this year.