Interview with (i am) isis | Edition XIX.6
Photo Credit » Michael Letterlough, Jr.
Name: (i am) isis
Players: isis, Isaac Childs, Diamond Dave, Michael Koltosky and Manny Mavrakis
Age: Grown (sometimes)
Hometown: The band was created in Brooklyn.
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Describe your sound as if we were deaf.
isis: Well, if music were food, we’ve been told (AfroPunk) that we’d taste like Cake Man Raven’s amazing, stand-in-line-for-hours red velvet cake! And, since I’m the odd one in the group who actually “sees” sound in color, I think that we look like a kaleidoscope of colors and textures.
But, we’re more than a taste or a harmonic blend of colors — we’re an experience. If you can’t hear something, you should be able to feel it. Our mission has always been to find you, feel you and free you. And you can feel our truth in your bones.
What producers, songwriters and/or artists do you see as your primary inspirations?
isis: Our inspiration comes from everywhere, from rock and jazz to Christian hardcore and classical music. As the voice of our movement, I’m moved by music that is authentic and speaks to and channels things greater than us all. I absolutely love artists like Cee-Lo and Andre 3000 for their continued innovations as genre-bending emcees/singers and everything in between.
Manny: I’m a huge fan of Aaron Gillespie. He’s an amazing drummer, a ridiculous singer and all-around radd musician. He uses all of his talents and popularity to spread positive music and share his testimony to such an amazing degree.
Isaac: Dave Brubeck, Raphael Saadiq and Stevie Wonder. Oh, and Flying Lotus.
Do you have a favorite musical project that you’ve worked on?
isis: Well, at this moment, it’d have to be ours!
What was the main factor for launching your career when you did?
Dave: Hearing Jimi Hendrix for the first time and the way he expressed himself on the guitar instantly made me want to pick up the guitar and learn how to do the same. And, then, seeing Jane’s Addiction and being mesmerized by their live performance sealed the deal for me.
Manny: I always wanted to sing. I just never could. But, around those transitional years in high school, some amazing bands and songs got me through some really hard times. And, at some point, actually watching the music video for “Hey Ya” by Outkast — the drums just seemed so fun and interesting.
Mike: Since before I can remember, I’ve been in love with and playing music. On top of playing instruments like the bass guitar and piano by ear since I was 9, I decided to make this my life goal and learned how to read and write music.
Who are some people you would like to work with?
isis: My dream list of collaborations include Cee Lo Green, Andre 3000, Rage Against the Machine and P!nk.
Dave: Jack White, Prince and Trent Reznor
How is the internet changing your craft?
isis: I think it’s leveled the playing field and made it easier to share our music and our passion with the world. It’s also made it more crowded, but I think if you are true to who you are, you can find your niche and shine.
Do you feel like what you are doing is important?
isis: Of course! Who wouldn’t feel like their passion is important?
Lastly, could you talk about any long-term goals or talents you have in mind?
Mike: I’m in grad school now, so I’m looking forward to holding my PhD in music composition/theory.
Isaac: I want to eventually make a full-time living at being a musician with the band. I also want to gain recognition as a producer in all genres of music, from rock to jazz.
isis: I want for us to be a touring and well-traveled band, as well as improve my (lack of) guitar playing skills. I also want to continue pursuing my core mission of finding, feeling and freeing our fans. If we can always touch and inspire lives, that would be the ultimate blessing.