Since his debut release EP in 2012, Jake Isaac has continually enthralled with his soulful, ardent voice and bewitching lyricism. The release of his ‘We Used to Dream’ EP marks his triumphant return following incredible debut album ‘Our Lives’ last year. Ahead of his upcoming London headline show at Omeara, we spoke to the man himself to hear all about the new EP, his songwriting process and more.
Your new EP ’We Used to Dream’ has just come out and it’s incredible. How did the EP come about?
“So, a lot of it hinges on the fact that I lost my Grandad at the end of last year and he was a massive guy in my life. He just really encouraged me to look beyond where I am. Life happens. Yeah, great. But don’t forget to look ahead and dream a bit.
When my Grandad passed, I took some time out and during that time I was quite pensive and reflective, just thinking, actually, what’s important?”
Throughout your work to date, your lyrics are just so beautiful and affecting. What’s your songwriting process like?
“Even now, just spending a bit of time writing, I feel like a lot of it comes down to just real conversations and singing things the way I would say it. Sometimes the feel of the music inspires the theme of the song. But sometimes I actually start with a conversation and I’ll write down the conversation. Then I figure out how to sing that afterwards.”
‘Carry You’ is one of my favourites on your new EP. What led you to pen that track?
“I had a friend of mine about two years back who was kind of having a bit of a crap time, but I feel like she was trying to be professional about it, which made no sense. So, when I saw her I was like “Dude, what happened to you?” and she was like “No, it’s okay. I’m just cracking on”. I was like “but you look crap, you know, you look like rubbish. What’s going on?”
And I suppose that whole conversation. Where’s your smile? What have they done? And in the name of being professional, you’ve lost your soul. Yeah, that’s kind of where that song came from. Just that whole idea of being there, when someone’s ready to be real, just being there to carry them.”
You’ve supported Elton John and are signed to his management company. How’s your experience of working with and supporting him been?
“That was crazy, it was like a massive learning curve. Playing in front of anywhere between 12,000 and 15,000 people on a run of dates like that drains the life out of you. Let alone like the logistics and whatever else, you know, with a team and band. It was nuts. It was just a whole other level. Even like performance wise, people aren’t there for you, they’re there for an icon so you’ve really got to up your ante, in terms of how to engage people in a stadium.
It was stretching, but it was so good. It was a great opportunity. Like that doesn’t happen every day, do you know what I mean? And he was really encouraging.”
Your debut album ‘Our Lives’ is phenomenal. What’s changed for you since then?
“So, I feel like musically, with this ‘We Used to Dream’ EP, it’s kind of the start of a conversation. Like I’m from South London, which comes with all its influences musically and sonically, and I feel like I’ve been kind of suppressing that side. Like a bit more groovier stuff, a bit more beats-orientated stuff, and I feel like I need to start introducing my fanbase to what I grew up on and who I am geographically – where I’m coming from.
I feel like the album that I did, ‘Our Lives’, and the EPs before that were kind of me figuring out this whole singer-songwriter thing, being a bit more organic sonically but now I just feel like stuff it. You might as well just do you and if people like it, they like it and hopefully they will.”
Who were some of the artists that got you into music and who are the ones that inspire you currently?
“I’m really into PJ Morton. He’s an American artist who was in Maroon 5 at one point. He just got nominated for a Grammy for best album last year and best R&B song. He’s sick, just his artistry really inspires me.
I’ve found myself listening to John Mayer’s latest record quite a bit. Just melodically and song-wise, I think it’s quite sick. And Bruno Major. His latest album is wicked just to wind down to so that’s been in my ears quite a bit.
Old-school wise, I’ve been listening to quite a lot of James Brown actually. It sounds so mad, but some of his later stuff, songs like ‘Static’, and some of his later stuff where he’s “on his way out” and trying to do hip-hop as it was just coming in. I just find myself listening to that on Spotify quite a bit.”
How does it feel to be coming back to play live?
“I’m pumped actually. I was talking to one of my band members this morning and we were just saying how excited we were. We’re pumped to just share new music but also just to do that again. There was one time we had like 40 music festivals a couple of years back. Like the live thing of what I do has always been full on and I’m so grateful for that. It’s always been a massive thing, like I’ve made a massive deal out of it. Like pushing through the live thing and making sure the live show is as strong as possible.
I feel like just headlining one festival and then doing a headline gig in London, I really do feel like that’s a good way to come back into it. And yeah, just taking time and then also re-introducing people to where you’re going sonically.”
And finally, what does the future hold for Jake Isaac?
“I’ve got a couple more projects up my sleeve over the next maybe twelve months and just a couple of bits I’ve been working on at the moment, which will soon be revealed. Two projects in particular over the next couple months, which I’ll probably start announcing and talking about after the Omeara show. Then possibly joining some friends and some other artists on support tours here and there. I just want to kind of get through this festival and headline gig and see what happens.”