Down the Boozer with Isaiah Dreads

Isaiah Dreads is a rising British rapper that has amassed over five million streams. Hailing from Dorset, Isaiah is steadily making a name for himself amongst an often-cliquey scene. We sat down with Isaiah over a pint to mull over his journey into music, his future ambitions and his latest EP, Out The Box, in collaboration with West London producer Zdot.

Isaiah Dreads

Isaiah, welcome. First obvious question: what’s your go-to drink on a night out?

Courvoisier & Coke.

Classy. And your go to hangover cure?

I don’t get the headaches and madness. I’ve beaten the system. I just need to chill.

Isaiah Dreads

What’s your journey into music?

When I was really young, I had two older brothers who rapped as well. When you’re that age you’re inspired by what your siblings are up to and look up to them. When I was nine, one of my brothers took me into the studio and from there I knew music was my thing. Growing up I did lots of crazy things – from martial arts to acting – but music is the thing that’s stayed with me.

So you realised music was your dream?

I just felt it was so easy to be. I could step into the studio, and no one was going to judge you for what you do, it’s [a place where it’s] celebrated to be different. I come from a very remote town, and in places like that people can often be very closed-minded. It just felt like in that environment, it was so free.

Who were your early musical influences?

I have five brothers and two sisters. all with different music tastes. One of my brothers was really into the early UK grime; he had all the CDs with people like Skepta, Wiley and Kano. It was a lot of UK-focused stuff, but they were talking about stuff I couldn’t really relate to but the energy and the rawness and saying things as it was, I just loved.

Isaiah Dreads

Another brother was super into American hip-hop, so he was playing Jay Z and Kayne West, so I appreciate both sides of the spectrum. My mum was obsessed with soul, jazz and blues so in terms of my music pallet, I grew up listening to a variety of music.

Did you have any guilty pleasures in music?

I loved ‘Crazy Frog’. Sad to say, that was the first CD I ever bought.

You’re from a fairly small town, as you say. What’s it like being from there and in the grime scene?

It’s strange. When you’re in a place that’s remote, especially when you’re young, you think that’s the world and that anything outside is the same. I didn’t even grasp the fact that people could come from different countries, different cities and mix – from Birmingham, Bristol or London.

I loved the music from there, even though I didn’t understand it. My whole thought process was that I wanted to speak my truth and be the rapper that people outside the city could relate to – to show that not everyone’s a bad inner city guy. You can be something else.

Isaiah Dreads

Do you think that’s what separates you from other rappers?

My nickname was ‘Lone Wolf’, and I’ve always felt that way coming into this game. Anytime I came up to London I felt I brought a different background, a different set of stories to the people I was feeling alien to. I have different things to speak about, and a different perspective on life.

In London, you have a lot of cliques in music; you have groups and a rapper might be friends with that rapper, who’s friends with that rapper and it can all be a closed unit. I think that’s great, but it can make you an outsider.

Talk me through your new EP and how it came together…

I think the mood on this EP is really interesting, because some of the songs are very upbeat, and kind of funky. But at the same time, I’m still saying stuff; I’m still opening up, I’m still talking about where my head’s been and how I feel about certain things.

Isaiah Dreads

I think that’s really important because, for me, the music which has longevity is the music that means something. So if I can say something that’s when it’s fire. Having evergreen themes [makes it] timeless and everyone can feel that emotion.

When you’re talking about quite personal experiences, how do fans react?

I get messages all the time about certain songs. There is a song called ‘Clouds’, which is one where I’ve really opened up about my mental health and ‘Blue Eyes’, which is a breakup song. I’ll get messages about both from people saying it helped them for time and resonated with them.

I think that’s the best thing you can get out of music. It makes me feel great but also writing a deep song, I’m writing that out of sadness, so that when I release it, and someone says, ‘Oh, that’s helped me a lot,’ it at least makes me feel that my sadness wasn’t wasted. Often it’s hard to be open about your emotions in general conversations, particularly to a room full of people, so to do it in this way is really cool.

How are you feeling about your latest EP? And what’s next for you?

This EP, Out The Box, I’m very excited to get it out. You sit in on the songs for just under a year. And on top of that, yeah, there’s going to be videos, and then there’s going to be more music.

I’ve got another EP, which is done. There’s just so much music in the pipeline. The dream now is: I’ve done shows in my hometown, I’ve done some mad sets at Glastonbury but, for me, I want to a big tour. That’s what next.

Isaiah Dreads will be playing Hootananny Brixton on Wednesday 15 March 2023. Click here to buy tickets.

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