South London might be building a reputation as a hub for road rap, but there’s a more mellow, hip-hop influenced jazz sound emerging from the area too. Through guys like King Krule, Jesse James Solomon and Loyle Carner, dusty sample-based beats tell tales of another side of South East living.
You can find Jamie Isaac at the centre of this down-tempo sound, with his classical training and jazz background being filtered through a love of J Dilla, Usher and Justin Timberlake. Earlier this year he and his crew of fellow South London-based creatives – Rejjie Snow, Jadasea, Black Mack, Jesse James and Edgar The Beatmaker (aka the formerly mentioned King Krule) – remixed his yet to be released debut album and released it as the Loose Grip mixtape, which coincided with a live Boiler Room set.
The set felt important, like the formal introduction of an emerging South London scene to the rest of the world. And Jamie’s mixtape was a document of this group of talented young collaborators, who have all – to varying degrees – built their own success, and continue to show promise and ambition for the future.
Following with his debut album, Couch Baby, the original songs that formed the basis of his remix tape, Jamie brings it back to his own, uncompromising vision. A self-described “guy who sits on the couch and makes music”, it’s the sound of a 20-something lifestyle, where the main motive for the day is to tinker with instruments and analogue recording equipment.
We sat down Jamie Isaac to discuss the release of his debut album, getting over the anxiety of performing live and the perception of being a “lazy stoner”…
How does it feel to finally have your debut album, Couch Baby, out there?
It feels good, I’m pretty hung over today, I’m just trying to get over that before I start having any other emotions.
Were you celebrating last night then?
Yes I was celebrating a bit last night, yes. Just with friends down the pub kind of thing. It was good, good vibes.
I know you’ve talked about having anxiety ahead of doing shows and stuff, I wondered was there any of that ahead of putting out a full body of work for the first time?
Definitely, definitely, definitely, because the music was kind of different from the other stuff I’d released in the past I was a bit anxious how people would take it. I was definitely anxious because it is my first extended piece of work and I was definitely thinking of it that way. That was my first full piece of artwork I guess and I was just wondering if it was going to do the project justice, there was definitely anxiety there.
How did you deal with that and get over it?
Just by carrying on. Literally it wasn’t a process it was just that I was creating music that I wanted to listen to, so I was trusting my judgement and people seem to like it.
It was interesting that you released a mixtape of remixes of all the album tracks, before dropping the album – which is usually something that would happen the other way around. Why did you decide to do it this way?
It was about two years before I’d released any music and I didn’t really want to turn up with an album and be like “Guys, I know I haven’t released anything in two years but I expect you to buy my album”. I wanted to give something away for free and also just kind of let people know about the scene that’s growing here in the south and let people know about who’s in our social circle. It was the first time I wanted to put the whole crew together on one tape.