How long have you been playing and what was your first instrument?
I’ve playing quite a long time. My very first instrument was piano when I was in primary school, but that was more enforced than a choice…not that I didn’t like it. But it was basically me doing it because mum wanted us kids to have the opportunity to explore any hidden creative impulses. At that age, which was about 5 years old, learning an instrument wasn’t really on my agenda. I was more of a bookworm then, and into playing cricket and kicking a football around with Dad. I was very coordinated and lithe, so I was good at most sports. Actually, maybe the first instrument was recorder. I went to a catholic primary school and I remember getting recorder lessons from the nuns. I also remember dad teaching me paradiddles on his drumkit when I could barely hold the sticks, so maybe that was the first. But I didn’t start playing drums seriously until I was about 14, which I guess was the first instrument I chose at free will to learn. I also started learning guitar on my sister’s classical about the same time.
What are your main musical influences?
It’s really hard to say because I’ve had such eclectic taste over the years…Crowded House, The Police, some euro-pop bands like Double and Alphaville. I remember loving The Dream Academy in school. Lots of influences from an older sibling and her partner. In recent years, I’ve been into chillout acts like Thievery Corp, Dzihan and Kamien, lots of artists on compilation albums like the Café del Mar collection. I must be mellowing as I get older. Mind you, I don’t mind a burst of something like Tatu every now and then. I love the production of their albums. Years ago I was into the Aussie rock band, ‘Baby Animals’. They are seriously one of the best rock bands I’ve ever heard. The singer, Suze DiMarchi, went solo for a while and did a fantastic album called ‘Telelove’. These days I prefer to listen to music which has a positive vibe. I love that song by Gary Go, ‘Wonderful’. That came into my life at the most perfect moment when I needed to hear it.
I guess certain albums have been more influential than artists per se. ‘Listen without Prejudice’ by George Michael and ‘Sing When You’re Winning’ by Robbie Williams comes to mind. I just saw George Michael in February, which was a long standing dream come true. It was like being at a fabulous dance party. I was on a high for a few days after that. George is in such extraordinary form. His voice is just superb, probably the best in contemporary pop. He seems to be able to access and express a gamut of emotions so deeply and honestly. And I came out of the concert being inspired to write pop songs again, which I haven’t done for quite a while, and to a significant degree. I think writing a great pop song is harder than writing a great rock song. I do love pop. But then I’ve loved all sorts of music…jazz, electronica, trance, soft rock, chill out, hard rock, ska, hip hop. Plus lots of world music. Just giving a few names you might know makes it sounds so two dimensional. There are just way too many influential artists for me to list.
What’s the song you’re most proud of writing?
I was asked this question a few weeks ago, and I said I was probably most proud of ‘Golden Year’ because it was the first song I produced to radio ready level. It was a quite a while in the making compared to the other songs, even just the writing of the verses. It comes out sounding so simple, but getting to that point in a way that conveys the essence of the song clearly is not always easy.
However, at the risk of sounding like a cliché, like most writers, I can’t really pin it down to just one song. Also, because I arrange and produce too, as well as play most of the instruments, I see the songs in a larger context than just the writing. Putting the album ‘Love Sun’ together was a steep learning curve because I was producing to a radio ready level for the first time. So I’m proud of the album as a whole, even though the perfectionist in me still hears things I want to change. Also, time constraints caused a few things to go along a different path to what I would do now, but overall I think it’s a great album within a particular ‘sub-genre’ of pop/soft rock, if I can boldly say. I have some ideas for a couple of the songs, of re-producing them in a different style, or re-mixing them, however you want to describe it. One song because I think it would work better in a different musical context, the other because it would sound just as good rocked up. Actually, there’s a third song I wouldn’t mind redoing…ya know, I think I need to get on with the second album otherwise I’ll be re-doing ‘Love Sun’ forever.
Your music is so silky smooth but with such a depth to it too. How do you go about getting such a fine balance between the two?
Wow, that’s a very nice compliment, thank you! As to the answer, I have to ask, can depth not be silky smooth? I’m laughing as I say this because that does sound kinda funny. But I guess I just write about what’s in my head and heart, and then find the sounds that work with that. Granted, I was limited to the sounds I had at the time. I’m not sure if I will stay with those sounds for the next album. Perhaps as an overall ‘sound’ I will, but I’d like to use different synth effects, different guitars, that kind of thing, upon that “silk smooth” ocean of sound.
Love Sun is a fantastic album. Tell us about the themes that run through the songs and the album as a whole.
Well, from the album title you can tell it’s about love. The concept of the Love Sun came about from me contemplating the light within us. That internal sun, so to speak, that is the Source energy shining through us. We are transceivers of love. We receive it, and that can come from all sources including the ultimate Source that made the whole of creation, and then we shine it back out to the world, or back to the Source, however you might be inclined. Without love, life is pretty meaningless. And of course, happiness is intrinsically tied to love. So you could say, without happiness, life is meaningless. So the theme revolves around love and a mindfulness, or a sense of gratitude to, the source of love … love for others, love for the planet, because to state the obvious, without earth we just don’t exist. So if we don’t take care of the planet, then it may well take care of us in some freak-of-nature way or another. So nothing new, just love. Well, maybe new contexts, like out of body melding with a lover, but, ya know, still love. Heh.
What’s next for Isaboe?
A second album, although I’d also like to do a second single and video before I release another album. I’ve also got an electronica project on the go.
HPM wishes Isaboe all the best and hopefully we will have some more stuff to make her laugh later!