On the Southeast side, overlooking rolling hills and the London skyline, Jamie Isaac cracks open a fresh pint and blows off some foam. He takes a swig before a drag of his smoke. If you bumped into him in the street you might not assume much. His clothes look like they’re probably from a charity shop. Nonetheless, this inconspicuous young man is a major ringleader in one of United Kingdom's hottest music scenes.
Isaac hails from a gritty area where the word “posh” isn’t thrown around freely. Amongst these stomping grounds, Jamie is one of several musicians fueling a renaissance in London. “It's hard to talk about influences without talking about the city itself,” Isaac revealed to Dummy Mag. “In some ways I feel the music reflects how I feel about it, slightly confused, filled with different styles, slightly arrogant. I love to hate it, but I can't pull myself away from it.”
Amongst the likes of King Krule, Rago Foot, Jerkcurb, and Jesse James the South East (SE) London movement is intriguing for a few reasons. For starters, there isn't really one unifying style of music that links them all together. Yet, when comparing tunes there’s commonality in their vibes of melancholy, unrest, longing, and love lost. One might conclude that the message of these kids, the reason there's a clamor for their growing voices, is that they're illustrating their hardships in a deeply personal and evocative way.
The SE is a movement in which the preservation of art and community is far more important than vain goals of notoriety. For instance, Isaac recently played a set titled Jenny’s Session, which is easily one of the most unusual performances you’ll ever see. Not at a music venue at all, Jenny’s is a little fast food joint where the ‘audience’ was made up of a few patrons quietly eating sausages and beans, as well as intrigued passers-by pressing their faces up against the glass windows.
It's back at his flat where we enter his realm. Isaac plays some pleasant piano chords before swiveling over to his dual monitors where he starts serving up some drum tracks and ambient samples–a vinyl record of Herbie Hancock watching over him.
Inspired by the likes of Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, and Marvin Gaye, Isaac composes music that can only be described as contemporary, new wave jazz. Once stating that he’d never write a song without using a piano, he adds uniqueness to his clean chords by layering in hip-hop style percussions. Often described as cinematic and minimalist, exemplified in tracks such as “Softly Draining Seas,” Jamie’s tracks swell with his soft, soothing voice. When these various elements blend together, it creates a tone and feel like nothing else coming out right now.
Nonetheless, this inconspicuous young man is a major ringleader in one of United Kingdom's hottest music scenes.
A self-described perfectionist, Isaac released his first full album, Couch Baby, in the summer of 2016. With tracks like “All My Days,” it’s clear to see that Isaac is maturing, fast. Compared to pensive and brooding compositions of his earlier EP releases in 2013 and 2014, the newer tracks have more complexity, more swagger.
True to his roots, Isaac filmed a music video for Couch Baby’s “Find the Words,” in a local barber shop. A very simple video, Isaac calmly gets his hair cut as people come and go, showcasing the intimacy of his area as well as the purity of his style.
Proving that any kid in a shabby flat can dabble with piano chords and some audio software, Isaac is an important chess piece in the SE movement. This network of millennials has found success because they’ve driven each other towards a higher echelon. They are committed to making a name for themselves as a community. Sure, they look like a bunch of vagabonds, but it would be foolish to ignore their massive grassroots success.