Following his support slot for Ella Eyre and a string of festival dates, we chat naff love song beginnings and Mozart obsessions with Jake Isaac

Jake Isaac

It’s only been about five years since south Londoner Jake Isaac picked up a guitar yet he’s already demonstrating a natural talent, to match an incredible voice.

Kicking off the year off supporting songstress Ella Eyre on tour, and dropping a few incredible EPs just for good measure, it’s safe to say that Jake Isaac is making waves as singer/songwriter to pay close attention to. Between playing every festival going this summer, and getting stuck into writing and recording new material, we managed to talk to him about his music, which if you haven’t heard, isn’t your typical guy with his guitar vibe; its more organic, and the strength and meaning of his lyrics captivate his audience leaving them in awe. Luckily for us he’s just announced a tour in the Autumn, which is sure to be a sell-out. We chat performing on stage with Ella, naff love song beginnings and childhood Mozart obsessions with the man himself…

You’re obviously really busy at the moment, what are you currently working on?

Just working on new tracks at the moment working towards an album, I’ve maybe been in the studio about a week? I exaggerate, its been maybe about five days, I’ve been told I need to get eight new songs together, obviously I’ve got three EPs out there already, and I’ve written quite a few and now I’ve whittled it down (laughs) it doesn’t mean that there any good, so I’ve got about six. I’ve got till the end of the month, beginning of September, to have them ready for. Then I’m going on the road, doing a national tour end of September, beginning of October, which will be my first headline tour.

We saw you supporting Ella Eyre at XOYO back in March, what was it like going on tour with her?

She’s great; at the time she was 19. And honestly I was chatting to my mates, telling them that she is THE best performer in the UK for me, for her age! I don’t know any another 19 year old who rocks a room the way she does, with such confidence. If she was older, I would say yeah she’s great but at that age, mate I couldn’t have done that at 19. It was my first support tour and I knew some of her band as well, it was just me, doing the acoustic thing, and another support act as well. I kind of crashed out with the guys; quite a few of them were my mates. I was on the bus with them it was fantastic, and then a few nights in, her and her band talked about, she told me they wanted to do ‘Long Road’ which is one of my songs, in her set. I thought she was pulling my leg, thought I was getting punked! But she turned around, from the second night in and for the rest of the tour we did ‘Long Road’ together on stage in her set and it was amazing, she’s a legend. Absolute legend!

Jake Isaac 2

How long have you been playing guitar for? How long into playing did you start writing?

I’ve been playing guitar for probably about five years. I started writing some pretty naff kind of love songs that will never be played ever in my life! After college I had a kind of singer/songwriter vibe. And then about 2 years ago, a mate introduced me to my old manager and I was playing in her kitchen, and she started crying, she said listen I want to take this on, and I thought flip! These might actually be quite good!

Amazing. You’ve had a pretty busy summer, you having a good festival run? 

Yeah! In the last two years we’ve done Lovebox, Glasto, Lollopoloza, Kendal Calling… we had a headline slot at the Cheltenham jazz festival for the Radio Two thing; that was amazing, Great Escape last year, then The Alt Escape this year. When I say we, I mean me and my band, not the royal ‘we’ (laughing) there’s been a few, and I’m probably forgetting some really big ones right now.

What were the crowds like? Were you playing to people who initially didn’t know your stuff?

It’s growing, it’s a process, but, it’s fantastic I was really fortunate that people were really up for it and really got into the songs. Like we were doing the opening set on the Saturday at Glasto, at half 11/12 in the morning, and what blew me away was we started playing and as the set was getting going, I could just see people coming out of their tents at 11:30 in the morning to watch me, it was crazy, I think I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.

How did you get together with the guys in your band?

Normally when I play I either do it on me on my own as acoustic, or Ido it as a quartet with my band, who are all mates of mine now, one of them I’ve known since I was 15, I said I’m doing this thing want to join me? And he was like yeah go on then (laughing). The drummer he plays for a mate of mine Josh drummer; there all mates who are session musicians as well.

What were your musical influences growing up, what did you hear a lot of?

Ok so, and please don’t judge me! I grew up on Paul Simon and Mozart. I know, weird right! As a young black kid from south London,all my peers were listening to grime and garage you know what I mean! My dads a vicar and for some weird reason he would come home from work and blast the Paul Simon Graceland album, or Mozart! And this was the back when we had tapes, and they were the only two tapes he never lost; I didn’t realise at the time, but it really got under my skin. Then when I hit Uni, it was like a curveball; I jumped on The Libertines, it went a little bit nuts; a lot of confusion but I feel like it worked out.

Can you hear any of these influences coming through in your writing?

I feel like the feeling is coming through, maybe not the chord progressions but definitely the feel. I feel like in my songs I like to write like The Temptations or Ray Charles. I feel like we’re missing that a lot nowadays, do you really mean what you’re singing? The whole purpose of songs is that you sing what you couldn’t say right?Like are you excited in the record your making? There are people who do it every now but I really try and learn from that. Whether I do it well or not is another question!

What else have you got planned for the rest of the year?

I think the powers that be are sorting out a couple of support tours, and I’ve got a few more festivals lined up; I’m doing a headline slot at another festival in Holland, then back out again to play in Germany.  There are also a couple of features that I won’t expose just now, but soon!

Check out Jake’s tour dates here.

Words: Siobhan Frew


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