Before you say anything, think once or twice or jump to conclusions let me just first say that the actual term Isis originates back to an ancient, Egyptian goddess that represented rebirth and healing. With that being said, the band named (i am) isis is on a mission to move millions of people by evoking emotion and to give humanity a sense of hope and true feeling. Healing people by way of music/song is the objective for (i am) isis as the group attempts to spread their infectious sound to the masses all around the globe. Fronted by a powerful female singer that fittingly enough goes by isis, the band is out to make a positive statement through “power” songs that matter and that can make a difference in a person’s life. With original lyrics and a soulful, rock vibe, (i am) isis won’t be happy or satisified until an “infinite” number of fans are “roaring” and “raising their glasses” to their thought-provoking tunes. So let the (i am) isis healing and rebirth process begin…now.
J Rae: The first thing that I noticed right away was that your band’s name is (i am) isis and the word that stood out like a sore thumb was isis. Obviously, this terroristic group has been all over the news with their ruthless killings/beheadings as they are a huge threat to this country. So, curious as to why you would bring attention to this term by including isis in the band title? And I saw that the lead singer goes by Isis and wondering if that’s just a stage name or a real name? If a stage name, why choose that?
isis: It’s crazy that some people would really think we named ourselves this to get attention. Neither I, as the lead, nor anyone in their right mind who was born, or reinvented as such, is looking to bring attention to a terroristic group. Isis is an ancient Egyptian goddess representing rebirth and healing. People have carried this name for centuries, long before this evil group came about. And we find it shameful that the media continues to call such an evil group that when it’s not even their name or acronym. There is even a petition for the media to stop using it.
As for me, I have been performing under the name isis as a poet/spoken word artist since I was 17. I became (i am) isis 8 years ago to differentiate myself from the rock band Isis when I was traveling as a performer. So the five of us decided, as a whole, to keep the name when we became a full unit versus me and a backing band. And there’s no way we’re changing our name now just to bow down to evil. We even released a statement last year about it and our fans have been super supportive.
J Rae: Your music includes a hearty mix of Rock & Soul that is free and invigorating to hear. Was blending the Rock with the Soul the intention all along and what inspired this?
isis: Thank you! It wasn’t intentional at all. I grew up with every type of music imaginable (my father was a DJ), but discovered my own particular lane when I first started to create what I called a spoken soul (spoken word and soul) project and found myself writing songs heavily infused by rock and all the sonic elements I grew up with.
J Rae: Your new EP ‘Mosaic’ is actually the first release for (i am) isis as a full group following a solo project from isis. What got the ball rolling to record this EP as a full band and what was the overall experience like? And isis, how does this compare to your solo project?
isis: Yeah, it was very organic. We knew we needed a product – quote, unquote, as a band. And we all knew I had a distinct sound. But, as a band, all of our different influences created a larger pot of sounds and experiences to pull from. So, it’s an expansion of my solo work and a great beginning from all of the pieces that came together to form this sonic ‘mosaic’ of us.
J Rae: I saw that your songs are getting solid airplay in the United States & France and most recently on UK radio. This has to be such an exciting & amazing feeling that your music is getting such a buzz all over the world and wondering if you could put into words what that truly feels like?
Isaac: Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
isis: (laughing) Yeah, it is. It feels amazing to know we have an audience, but at the same time, it’s like not enough, you know? I really want as many people to hear our music as possible. and I know it’s a bit harder since we don’t have that pop top 100 sound. But, what we do have is authentic, so I keep praying and pushing that we can keep reaching a growing number of people.
J Rae: Your band’s mission is stated as: “find you, feel you and free you” and was hoping you could delve more into the meaning of that statement for all of the Skope readers out there?
isis: That’s been my moniker since I started performing as a poet and the band rocks with it. It’s about finding and meeting people wherever they are and getting them to feel something. I think once you feel something, and feel strong enough, you can free yourself from anything that you feel is holding you back or down.
J Rae: Your sound has been compared to the likes of Tina Turner, Lenny Kravitz and Lauryn Hill which is definitely sayin’ a lot. Do you agree with this? And also, do these artists and their music have any influence on (i am) isis and its overall sound?
Dave: Although that’s a very nice compliment, I don’t know if I necessarily hear the comparison. I feel like our sound is so unique simply from the fact that we’re such a diverse group of people that have come together in this sort of unexpected way to create a sound that we can call our own. With that said, those artists that were mentioned I would say have definitely made their marks on a few members of the band, including myself. But we’re just not the type of band to wear our influences on our sleeves, so to speak.
isis: I agree. it’s awesome to be likened to some serious heavyweights, but we sound like us. People want to categorize us, put us in a box, and they have a hard time doing it. I think everything we hear and like and keep on repeating has an influence, but we’ve never sat down and said ‘let’s write a song like this band’ or ‘let’s make sure I sing like this singer’. And I hope we never do.
J Rae: The single “Get Free” off of ‘Mosaic’ is a powerful anthem for change but wanted to know what changes do you think need to happen right now in this country? Also, what specific changes are you targeting in this song and why?
isis: Everything. it’s about freeing ourselves of all the negatives in our lives – whether emotional, physical or spiritual and not letting anyone define what our happy is. There are so many things that need changing — how we deal with police and community relations, profiling, body shaming and self-image, bullying, marriage equality and most, of all, human rights. At the same time, I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. The message has to come from a place of hope and power. I think if we started from the place that we are all living this human experience on this same earth and really have this same ultimate goal of peace and harmony, things could be so different.
There really is no “why”. It just is. As an artist and breathing human being, I see and feel everything around me – and these things are real. Some prefer just to write party songs, I want to write power songs. And I hope I/we get good enough at writing them to affect millions. It would be such an honor to have an infinite number of fans who “roar” or “raise their glasses” to our music.
J Rae: What’s your take on the current President and the current state of affairs in these United States? How can we, the people, make a difference right now to get things back in order and back on track? What do you think needs to be done to save this country?
isis: Ahh. I’ve always been told to keep political conversations at home. But, Obama definitely seems like the most relatable president we’ve had. I don’t think presidents have as much power as we’d like to think – he still has to play political games within pre-existing structures.
Mike: The president is just as bad as all the other presidents. I can’t speak for everyone, but I am doing ok. We, the people, can just be people, and work hard to get things done. Better yet, actually get them done. Stop worrying so much about who wore what costume to which ridiculous award ceremony (music, especially), or about if the president smiled too much during a serious speech, and just GET STUFF DONE!
isis: We can also make a difference by staying informed and speaking up. We have the power of social media and instant access to happenings across the globe. Simple Twitter hashtags have organized communities and morphed into life-changing campaigns. We need to stop looking for leaders to “save” us and become those leaders. Besides prayer and God, I honestly don’t know what needs to be done to “save” this country. I hate to sound all kumbaya, but I just want people to stop hating so much. Stop hating yourself and stop hating and fearing others for being other. Think about how many of our headline issues are simply based on hate or fear.
J Rae: Do you feel that your music and lyrics can really touch people and get them thinking about important issues? What types of messages are you trying to get across to the public through your songs/videos?
Isaac: Absolutely. That’s a formula that we are still in the works of perfecting. There are a bunch of people that feel the same way that we do.
isis: We’re definitely not the only people who think things need fixing.
Isaac: Right, but at the same time, I find myself asking ‘does anyone wanna hear this right now?’. I mean, yeah, we can do songs like “fuck this and fuck that” but we don’t want to touch people in that way. We want to create music that sparks conversation and gives people a voice. Some people are afraid just to speak up. They feel like they don’t know enough about politics to voice their opinions, let alone vote, but they know something’s wrong.
isis: Yeah, that goes back to the mission of getting people to feel and do something. And besides human rights, in general, there isn’t just one thing I want to bring light to. Whatever is touching those around me is touching me – and that runs the gamut from #BlackLivesMatter and civil rights to marriage and gender equality.
J Rae: What would you want the average listener to get out of your new EP ‘Mosaic’ that would in turn make you feel extremely fulfilled and rewarded as a band?
Manny Mav: I would hope that the average listener could really feel what we’re going for. As a collaborative group we are still finding ‘our’ sound. Every song is different than the last and I hope people hear the passion we put into it. And obviously, I would hope that the listener would be excited for the next EP!
Isaac: What would be fulfilling for me is if they found strength or courage to do what they dream of despite fear and shortcomings. Also, an intimate connection that is comforting enough for us to become apart of their lives and vice versa in the idea that even though all of us are different, we all make up a mosaic or bigger picture.
isis: The best part about introducing new listeners is that moment when they’re moved and they get “it” – whatever “it” is. For some, “it’s yeah, a black girl can rock out”. For others, it’s about finding meaning in music and some, it’s just about the music. Whatever “it” is, as long we’re moving people to feel something, that’s the best ever. I’d rather you hate what we do, then just not feel anything.
J Rae: What’s on tap next?
isis: We just got back from Atlanta where I won an award for best Female Indie Artist in Rock for an indie program called WomenInCharg3. Isaac and I were also in LA for TuneCore’s indie artist forum. Now it’s time to put together all of those experiences to keep the momentum going. We’re getting ready to shoot a video for “Unbreakable” and we’ve also got some shows coming up here in New York and along the East Coast. And, of course, writing and creating new music.
By Jimmy Rae