OTW #531: Jamie Isaac

Nocturnal electronic ballads from south London...
Jamie Isaac by Neil Bedford

North London, of course, tragically passed away in 2004, and east London is becoming less like an elephant’s graveyard and more like a mammoth genocide. South London has tried a few times to become a new creative hub for London, and ultimately simmered back down. This year, though, it seems reluctant to recede and boiling point excitedly approaches.

Through King Krule, Joel Compass, Moko, Bradley Zero, Jerkcurb and Childhood, a wave of creative diversity is building south of the river. And riding peacefully on that crest is a just-turned-19 Jamie Isaac.

With his BRIT School background (he attended beside King Krule) and an intriguing past as a choir ace, it’s safe to assume he has an ear for what works. Isaac’s recent ‘I Will Be Cold Soon’ EP showcased this, as he manipulated tender piano lines, stirring vocals and creeping beats to create a tetrad of nocturnal electronic ballads.

The music doesn’t adhere to usual structures, and the real appeal lies in his talent to paint whole panoramic atmospheres that throb with a calm chaos.

“I like that minimalism,” begins Jamie. “‘Hardened Front’ starts calm and builds. These builds are audio representations of your stress taking over. I want this to be an EP that is not for every moment in time. It’s for you when you’re by yourself. I want people to connect on a solemn note.”

The songs of ‘I Will Be Cold Soon’ were written in a dark place, which Jamie attributes to “what most adolescent teens go through. Some paint a picture, but I can’t draw, so I make drowned-out music to cleanse my soul.”

Each track is birthed from and led by his piano – a proverbial paintbrush – and a method is he dedicated to: “I love the sound of a piano. I love the way it feels and I love the texture. I won’t ever write a track without a piano line in it. There needs to be a real instrument driving this electronic sound.”

In recent weeks, an industrious Jamie has smashed out his next EP, due for release at the end of 2013. He assures us: “It’s sounding good. There are more jazzy influences, and it’s slightly more angry and direct. The next single is fast, interesting and big.”

The strangest thing about the young Croydon lad is perhaps his influences. “I love that kind of late-’50s west coast jazz, the cool era. I love Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck. I love the Beach Boys.” And then, an admission: “But, I don’t ever listen to electronic music.” It’s an unexpected confession from such a gifted producer, but perhaps his ignorance contributes to this bliss.

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Where: South London

What: Nocturnal electronic ballads

Get 3 songs: ‘Softly Draining Seas’ (above), ‘Can See (Part 1)’, ‘Hollow Words’

Fact: Jamie asked us to mention he is a genuine guy, really good-looking and at least seven-feet-tall.

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Words: Joe Zadeh

Photo: Neil Bedford

Find Jamie Isaac online: Facebook / Twitter

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