There’s something admirable about a talent that doesn’t seek success but attracts it organically.
That’s what happened when Isaac Gracie was discovered after uploading a home recording onto Soundcloud. Isaac sees it as a blessing, but in no way does he pride himself on it. As with many capable musicians, he seems modest enough, but also someone who is always striving for better. “It was a cool experience, but daunting, I had no idea what the music industry was… All of a sudden, you’re weighed down a lot by the pressure of, in some way, competing with Radiohead or Arctic Monkeys.
Being a consumer of music, as opposed to a professional maker of music, is a different world completely. Isaac explains that this change puts you in the same arena as your idols, with the same responsibilities, the privacy of your own music becomes public and brings new challenges to the table. “I couldn’t allow myself any true level of that feeling [pride] because I hadn’t accomplished anything yet, in my own sense of judgement.
April is a big month for Isaac as he’s set to go on his tour, which consists of just under thirty dates within the space of five weeks. It always strikes as quite profound when musicians embark on a tour that holds so many dates in such a seemingly short period of time, something that could be extremely tiring for any “average” person. This isn’t the case for this soulful singer. With his last tour amassing 36 shows over 40 days, Isaac thrives off the restlessness of touring. “I love it, I love being busy, playing shows. That’s what this whole thing is for… I want to be as busy as possible.” The energy and passion for his performances is quite inspiring. “It gives you something to focus on, otherwise you can just twiddle your thumbs and think of all the songs you’re not writing.”
The month also brings the release of his eponymous debut album. This has been in the making for a while and took many different shapes in how it was recorded. The singer-songwriter tells me he’s really happy to be in a position to finally put it out and how it’s an embodiment of his struggles and experiences of the last three years. That’s definitely the impression you receive from listening to his songs. Although Isaac’s lyrics are seemingly poetic in the sense they have a wonderful ability to make you feel something, he recognises he is not a poet by trade or ability (or so he says). He doesn’t see his songs as poetic in the sense that they’re mostly not metaphorical. “The lyrics are on the nail with sentiment as possible, there’s no smoke and mirrors or diverse lexicon.” In other words, the lyrics are raw and real, what you hear is what you get.
One fascinating thing about prospering musicians is that each one has a different story to tell, an individual back story of how they came to find music. I find Isaac’s tale interesting, and almost unexpected as he tells me he used to sing in a church choir when he was younger. “I always loved to sing, I loved the beauty and suspension and acoustic of a big reverberant space”. It’s a component that still comes through with his voice today, not in a classical sense but the harmonious and smoothness of his melodies and words.
At aged 14, when Isaac no longer sang in the choir, he taught himself guitar – just for the idea of being able to sing songs he loved. He used it as accompaniment to continue his adoration for singing, and soon enough he stopped doing covers and started writing his own music. He explains to me how initially he wrote songs for his mother. Not in so much that she heard them – because at first, she didn’t – but as a way for him to communicate to her through them. It’s something that comes across as almost endearing: writing songs as an outlet when facing the obstacles that youth brings.
When Isaac and I discuss the future and what hopes he has for his career, he tells me, “We set goals in our life that we don’t speak of and we don’t even allow ourselves to think of really… We just float around unconsciously, getting sent in a direction”. Wise words, maybe we can never really plan our aspirations. Realistically, he wants to carry on playing music and have the opportunity to write and produce that music. ‘’Everything about that equation is really sustaining to who I am as a person and what I joy and pride myself on.” Isaac’s not just incredibly talented musically and vocally, but he comes across as a driven and down-to-earth guy, a person I imagine, or at least hope, will continue to amaze and succeed in what he loves most.
Isaac Gracie will be performing at The Haunt, Brighton on Weds 25 April.