It is when you turn off the lights and turn off the outside world when you discern between things that are worth it and that are not. A South London soul-folk singer/songwriter Jake Isaac had a personal hiatus from social media and climbed out of it as a better man. He comes with four new songs under a brand-new EP called ‘We Used To Dream.’ This EP is not Jake’s debut, as he previously self-released four other EPs, and a debut album last year. However, ‘We Used To Dream’ is the most personal one touching upon Jake’s personal experiences. Each song has its narrative, but when combined they could represent crucial elements to happy living: letting go, being honest with yourself, hard work, being there for your friends, empathy, and love.
Born and raised in South London, Jake grew up on reggae music like Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley and other artists like Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday. “As long as people were awake in my house, some form of music was being played”, Jake states, whereas now his repertoire is more varied, “nowadays, my musical influences have evolved to more J Dilla, Everything Everything, Raphael Saadiq, and a number of other phenomenal artists, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t listen to the artists I did growing up”.
In the beginning, Jake’s main instrument was not his voice. He used to play drums in church and did his grade 8 drums by the time he was 16. It was Jake’s passion and hunger to get into ‘sessioning.’ His musical appetite led him to artists like Duffy as he explains himself: “When I wasn’t studying I would get back into London and be at any gig or recording studio that would have me. I ended up doing a stint with Duffy as her musical director and that was my first proper pop gig. I think through it all though I still loved playing rock and roll records and jazz records and playing in church. It was a total buzz for me! So whenever I could do it, I did. If you ask me to pick up a pair of sticks now though I’d probably pick them up sideways. It’s been ages since I played”.
Hard work and contacts from the industry pushed Jake as far as writing a song for one of the biggest boybands in the world. Jake is a pioneer of a proper grind work ethic. He started writing love songs back at university, and his friend that was a well-known producer suggested writing pop songs. Jake gave it a shot and a fast forward to one year later: “After long nights and propa grinding, I landed my first cut on a single for the boy band “Blue” crazy!”.
For Jake to release ‘We Used To Dream,’ an EP that is so personal and close to his heart, he self-released four other EPs prior. “They were very much about figuring out who I was creatively as I’d never done this before. Also, they were very much about making music that I knew that my small fan base would be into lol”.
Throughout Jake’s creative self-discovery journey, he crossed paths with the legend Sir Elton John and other pop stars like Ella Eyre. It was not as low key as it sounds. Jake gives us the low down how he got to be Elton John’s support act: “Touring with Elton John was incredible! At the same time, it was crazy hard work and really stretched the squad and me. Opening up for 12,000 – 15,000 people each night who weren’t there to watch you but a musical icon meant every night we had to give 120% on stage. It was nuts! But wicked! Sir Elton was a massive encouragement”.
A more mellow performance featuring some quality names are on Jake’s Youtube channel. He put out videos in ‘Our Lives Sessions’ series for the release of his debut album ‘Our Lives.’ Jake performed tracks from the album – ‘Long Road’ with Ella Eyre, ‘Better This Way’ with Maverick Sabre.
Before Jake’s break from social media, he spent around four to five years touring and building fan bases around the world through US, Belgium, UK, the Netherlands, and Germany. Jake’s answer to ‘how was the tour life treating you’ may not be what you expect: “The tour life ain’t glamorous. Fact. Forget what you see on Instagram. Seriously though being able to tour for four years was hard work building fan base, trying to get things going in new territories, etc. but it was also an absolute privilege”, and his hard work sure did pay off considering streaming numbers over 30 million.
Jake took his time off seriously enough to leave social media for six months. His reasoning behind this hiatus is something we should all take part in: “My break from social media really helped me think through what I wanted to do next and also encouraged me to start taking more steps to push the boat out in terms of my songs sonically. I feel like just being able to rest and not have to be on the front foot with things for a couple of months really helped re-focus me creatively”.
His creative juices got a refuel, and Jake tells us more about the process and the comparison of ‘We Used To Dream’ and his previous work: “The difference between this EP’s compared to the first is probably sonically. I really felt I wanted to start to love away from more organic sounds and be a bit more South London with it lol. Also lyrics wise, I really wanted to start to push the boat out in terms of honesty and not just write about things to do with my mates or family but to do with my own journey personally”.
His most recent EP ‘We Used To Dream’ has a soulful vibe that enabled him to be honest with himself and his realities. The title itself has its own story: “ The reason behind the title is that when my Grandad passed away, I was very much reminded of how he used to always warn me to behave myself but still be open to dream I could do or be anything. When he went, I really wanted to write about the simple things in life that help us to keep dreaming”.
Jake’s personal growth is evident in all four songs. With ‘Bad Vibes,’ he is simply letting go bad vibes and “ended up just writing a song saying exactly what I meant how I meant it.”
‘For No Reason’ is the first single out of the EP and deservingly so. Jake shares the inspiration behind it: “Just like probably 9 in every 10 blokes out there, I’ve been rubbish at times when it comes to the whole relationship thing. So I wrote this song just trying to be honest about it all, and trying to say the things I’ve been rubbish at saying over the years to my Mrs”. This raw take on love and appreciating one another is also available in a video.
The art of hard work has been mentioned once or twice already, so Jake dedicated a whole song to his work ethic. Here is what Jake has to say about ‘Grindin’: “This whole musical journey for me has been a grind and a half! There are probably millions of other artists who can say the same. Even when your mates are telling you what you’re doing is good, you still feel like meh, haha. So I figured as a part of trying to keep the dream alive I’d write a song about the reality of trying to live the dream”.
As a sweet ending and a cherry on top of the EP, Jake brings ‘Carry You.’ A personal favorite, ‘Carry You’ is the hug you want when you’re feeling down. “I wrote it for a close friend, and anyone else that needed a little bit of an ‘I’m with you’ feeling,” and the mission is complete as that is precisely what the song does to you.
Jake and his band has been rehearsing the new material and are ready to give back to the world with a headline show on the 17th September, at Omeara London. If you’re a fan of music that will move you, join Jake at his intimate concert.