LOST CULTURE: Exclusive Interview with Isaiah Dreads
18 year old Grime artist Isaiah Dreads is living a teenagers dream right now having performed at Glastonbury Festival, Reading and Leeds. Over the past two years, he has he has performed on 1Xtra with MistaJam, been Zane Lowe’s Next Hype, done a Gimme Grime with DJ Cameo and his appearance on Annie Mac Presents has over 100 thousand views. Following the release of his debut mixtape Nothin But A Mixtape at the beginning of this year, which saw him gain support from Pigeons and Planes, Noisey, Complex and 1Xtra, Isaiah Dreads is back with a project to see him end the year on a bang.
Lights Turn Green shows a more mature, wiser side to Isaiah, with the production focusing on his Jamaican roots splashing across some tracks such as ‘Snacks‘, along with big band, jazz productions on tracks such as ‘Fall Back‘. L Ø S T C U L T U R E sat down with the Dorset MC to discuss his journey in music, his thoughts on the 2015 grime scene and what we can all expect from his new project.
How old were you when you first decided you wanted to do music and if you can remember, what were your initial inspirations?
I first got into music around 7 years old. It wasn’t anything serious at this point but it was always something I enjoyed doing and had a real passion for. I started after being inspired by my older brother as he also raps. I grew up around all kinds of music and I think that’s why I try and include so many different styles in my tracks.
You made a lot of headlines when Nicki Minaj saw a video of you and commented on how great you were via Social Media. What was that experience like and what impact did it have on your fanbase?
When Nicki [Minaj] posted my video it was crazy for me purely because I was 12 years old and it was the first proper video id made. I don’t remember it having much of an impact on my fan base but it was definitely a cool moment.
Originating from Dorset, what was the music culture like where you were growing up? What other rappers/producers are doing things in Dorset?
There’s not much of rap culture around where I live in terms of people making music but a lot people appreciate it which is good and there’s definitely people local to me doing great things. My brother Agent does a lot of battle rap, Meta is sick and quite a few cool bands as of recent.
Your project Nothin’ but a Mixtape was a great project and helped get you recognised in the scene. Do you have a favourite track off the project and why?
Nothin but a Mixtape was great fun for me and I just wanted to show people what kinds of styles I could do. I think my favourite track on it is ‘Working Hard‘ but I never listen to my own music once I’ve released it so sometimes I’ll hear a track from the project which I’ve completely forgotten about and just vibe out.
Talking about your past music, Looking back over 2015, do you have a highlight moment and why is it so special?
My highlight moment of 2015 was performing at Reading/Leeds fest I think. It was such a cool moment for me to walk out on stage and see people knowing some of my songs, word for word. That’s always been something ive wanted to happen and everyone just seemed to have a good time including me.
Other than that ive really enjoyed just being creative and writing loads of new tracks. With people like yourself [from Dorset], C4 [from Birmingham], Bugzy Malone [from Manchester] and Coco [from Sheffield] who are artists from outside London gaining so much hype in Grime, do you think that there is a shift of focus away from the capital when it comes to Grime music and why do you think this is?
I don’t think talent has a location and I think that’s why people are paying attention to people outside of London. At the same time, just as much attention is being paid to London because there’s crazy amounts of talent there. I think if someone wants to make grime music they can make grime music, they don’t have to be from a certain place.
This year, you dropped ‘Lights Turn Green’ alongside Saskilla, what was that experience like working with such a legendary artist and was the process behind that song?
I grew up on Nu Brand Flexx so it was a sick for me. The process behind the song ‘Lights Turn Green‘ was crazy. Saskilla had agreed to do a track with me and I made the track and sent it over to him with an empty verse, I remember him writing, recording and sending back his verse to me within a couple hours. It was sick. The video is about to come out aswell so I cant wait for people to see that.
2015 has been such a prolific year for the grime with artists like Skepta, Stormzy and Section Boyz gaining mainstream attention. Why do you think Grime has been so successful in the past 12 months and how far do you think the hype can grow?
I’m not sure why grime has become more successful in the past 12 months. I don’t think people can ignore it anymore and its definitely a genre which deserves to be appreciated. I can only see it becoming more popular if I’m honest and I hope it does. I’m not a grime artist but I do make grime music so it’s a type of music I’ve always loved.
You collaborated with a number of artists on your journey, if you could jump on a track with anyone from the UK or US scene right now [dream big!], who would it be and why?
I couldn’t pick one person to work with but UK wise id love to work with Wiley or Kano. American wise id love to work with Kanye [West] or Pharrell (dreaming big!)
What can people expect from your upcoming mixtape Lights Turn Green?
I think people can expect improvement. I think I’ve taken the style of the music somewhere different than my first mixtape. I’ve got some cool features on there so I can wait for people to hear it really, I enjoyed making it.
With 2016 around the corner, what are your plans for 2016?
My plan for 2016 is just keep making more and more music. I also want to perform a lot more and collaborate with new people. I’m really looking forward to the next year as people will have the Lights Turn Green mixtape and much more from myself. Hopefully my fan base grows wider too.