I am late to the Isaac Jones party. Not late in the sense that his party has passed, but late to introduce Isaac to the world (although he’s been doing a good job of it himself).
We caught up in pre-coronavirus times, when people were still allowed to move freely, dart about the city hanging about in coffee shops and drinking pints on tables outside in the street. These were the times I wanted to write about Isaac and his music. I thought his music was the perfect sound-track to a journey to Dublin city centre to meet pals for a pint, or on your way home from some beer-soaked hazy evening by the canal.
We might be listening in different circumstances now mid-lockdown, but this won’t change the music.
“I don’t think it’s long before bedroom pop isn’t a thing anymore, because everything is made in a bedroom” Isaac tells me, like some future-seeing prophecy musing on what in a few short months the world will look like.
“We record everything on our own. It’s brilliant. You can do anything there. You can make whatever you want.”
“It’s not even worth using bedroom as a prefix. Soon everything will be made in a bedroom. We’re going to plug ourselves into family dinner, log into social events and it’ll be fine. That’s how I like it. But I don’t make the rules”.
Isaac Jones, the twenty-something graduate from the Northside of Dublin burst fresh out of Trinity College at the end of last year and has been releasing his own singles steadily since October. Friday marked his latest release, ‘April’, a fresh track of new beginnings, new introspections, new beats. It’s his fifth single he’s released since he started – and no, there doesn’t look to be an album at any time soon.
“I think singles are the best thing ever” says Isaac.
“You have to wonder what people really listen to. I love albums, but there’s a time and place for them. That time and place is still now, but I’m not an established artist, so no one is really going to give a fuck if I release 45 minutes of music. They’ll be like, ‘what!? Give me a song you donkey’.”
I don’t really agree with Isaac on that one, but that’s because I’m musically greedy, a sucker for a good album. When I like something, I like it a lot, and I want lots of it. Isaac assures me that releasing a single isn’t denying this musical gluttony.
“I love listening to new music every week and seeing what’s coming out. I might not take a risk on a full album, but I will always take a risk on a single, see what’s going on. The album is the golden goose, the best one. I’d rather go with singles for a while before I would trust myself with something like Blonde, which is an album of biblical proportions.”
Isaac Jones reeks of Dublin and positivity. He dropped his first single ‘Listen’ towards the tail end of last year. It’s a fun, lively track; jazzy and colourful, there is something cheeky about it – it’s the song you put on when you go to get the girl and have a beer when it all goes tits up.
His voice, and lyrics, put the hilarity back into a serious situations – the ridicule back into heartache, into the chase, into the silliness of a situation where a Trinity graduate finds himself embarking on a pop-career by shunning the serious studio and opting for his mates bedroom.
“I knew from the start that music was for me – College was just four years off. I strapped myself in. There wasn’t any point in getting my act together before I left.”
“I did an academic course because I’d rather be a failed musician with a degree. And yeah, I was daunted when I released my first single because I’m a bit cynical and I have no illusions about what music is and how it’s a bit ridiculous that someone can think what I’m thinking about at home when I’m messing about on Ableton is worth their time.”
“I listen to so much music and I wouldn’t be able to continue listening without seeing stuff I had made in amongst it. I love pop music. I don’t really want to write about myself – it’s almost rude to give someone a song that’s just full of your own feelings – but you can’t really get away from it.”
Isaac radiates an energy which is the driving force behind his music. He sings about escapades and scenarios, being issued rules and finding ways to bend them, persuading the subject and the listener to shed their apprehensions and go with the flow.
“Not to be demanding” he croons on the same-titled track, “have some understanding/ this is worth the fall but it’s not worth the landing/ sometimes I feel stupid / you make me feel stupid / want to find you interesting, but I just find you everywhere”.
He’s the man that every mother loves. His boyish vulnerability, angelic looks and easy sound lull the listener in to a sound that is anyone’s summer evening by that canal, but the wish for self-betterment gives it a depth and flash of vulnerability. His music is anthemic of the city it’s conceived in: it’s Irish pop at its most reflective.
“Dublin is the best city in the world” Isaac embarks on a tour of persuasion. To him, no lockdown or virus will halt its creative potential.
“There’s always been a real shot at it for Irish people.”
“So many of my friends are making insane music. There’s fuck all venues in Dublin, which obviously sucks, but every week there is a gig by someone I know. I listen to my friend’s music just as much as I listen to official live music and it’s the best thing. I open my mail app to hear a demo as much as I do Spotify to listen to an artist.”
“That’s the great thing about Dublin; there is an outrageous amount of good music going on. It’s an incubator. I don’t know what it is. It should be getting less – there’s no rehearsal space or venues or apartments and it’s crazy but there’s no stopping the creativity. Sometimes I feel if we got an affordable studio or rehearsal space, people would be like, ‘what am I going to do now? Let’s get a pint and sleep in’.”
Beginning this piece, I wanted to write that Isaac’s music was perfect for walking down those Dublin streets in balmy weather, on the way to get a pint or go to a party or a pub. But it’s not. His music, which is perfect in any sense, is the most perfect when it’s listened to indoors looking out onto that balmy weather – because it’s the captures the feeling of waiting for a summer about to burst forth.
It’s the anticipation of beauty, the beauty of anticipation. And I, for one, cannot help but anticipate what is going to burst forth from him next.
Photography: Ellius Grace