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NewTracks New Artist: Isaac Chambers

NewTracks New Artist: Isaac Chambers

Released originally as part of a collaborative EP between Isaac Chambers and the UK’s Megumi Hope, aka Dub Princess, back in 2015, Back To My Roots has found a new life as part of Deep Fried Dub‘s remix EP ‘Refried III’. The remix adds extra dub flavours to the already skanking original, tasty enough to get featured on NZ On Air Music’s NewTracks compilation this April. 

Can you introduce yourself? Where’s home and what instruments do you play?

Isaac Chambers. I was born in Nelson but spent my early childhood in California, before my family moved back to North Canterbury. I left Christchurch after the earthquakes in 2011 and headed to Melbourne, then came back to NZ again last year. My main instrument is guitar, along with bass, synth/keys, percussion and vocals. I also do all my own production, mixing and mastering.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

At high school I had a very understanding music teacher which was great – shout outs to Mrs Rowe! But even so I failed to pass the curriculum as I spent most of the time practising with my band rather then learning theory and doing book work. I enjoyed music at high school, and the lessons it taught me about crafting original material are still with me today.

Any other projects might we know you from?

Nachur is a side project created in collaboration with Canadian multi-instrumentalist Prosad. We made an EP called ‘Cicada Sessions’ which is still one of my favourite creations to date. It’s a mixture of dub, roots, jazz and downbeat electronica, fusing modern digital production with earthy analogue warmth.

What was the background to that project? 

We met in NZ while performing at a festival called Luminate back in 2012, and originally planned to create some trance and techno vibes mixed with live instruments, but in the end the music we crafted turned out to be some of the most chilled I have ever made – and the start of a new direction for me sonically.

While Prosad is originally from Canada, both of us feel a calling to Aotearoa  as a deep source of inspiration and in some ways a spiritual and musical home. The ancient landscapes of NZ provide the ideal backdrop for the creation of heartfelt music.

The EP derived its name from the cicadas that were constantly singing while the sun was up… so much so that the album had to be produced at night, with recording sessions starting at sunset and lasting until sunrise! The cicadas and many other sounds of nature even made their way subtly into the music throughout the EP.

How has your own music evolved to now?

It’s an endless evolution. When I was a teenager and just beginning to write my own songs, I was really into rock, grunge and heavy guitar music. Then as I got into my late teens and 20s I became immersed in electronic music production, specifically trance.

During both these musical phases I remember distinctly feeling like I would never get over my passion for each genre, the love for the music was so strong. But eventually my taste would change, and looking back it seems that each phase lasted about seven years…

Nowadays I have become much less dogmatic about music and my taste is much more diverse, including reggae, jazz, blues, hip hop, classical, world music and various types of electronica. I listen to anything that feels ‘soulful’ and by that I mean authentic. Personally music has always been more then just sound. It is a deep emotional feeling, and if it feels good then it’s right, no matter what the production is like.

When did you decide to release music under your own name?

About 12 years ago I realised that my musical tastes were always going to be shifting, so I decided to keep it simple and release everything under my real name rather then have many different aliases.

Aside from this release, what’s been your music highlight to date?

I guess more then one single event or highlight, the biggest inspiration has been the realisation that it’s possible to thrive as an artist, even though the cards seem so stacked against us. The massive changes in the music industry over the last 10 years have been both a source of anxiety and opportunity. It has pushed me to be more independent as an artist, and has been an amazing learning experience.

Watching my music travel all over the globe and having the opportunities to perform and collaborate with other incredible artists in so many different countries has been a dream come true. It’s made all those years of passionate focus and struggle totally worth it. I encourage every creative person who is expressing themselves authentically to stay true and not give up!

What makes Back To My Roots stand out for you as a single?

It was one of my first real forays into reggae production and so it has a special place in my heart. I love the lyrical content and groove, it feels like good road trip music. I’m stoked to have the boys from Deep Fried Dub remix it in such a tasty manner.

What is the story behind Back To My Roots?

The music for Back To My Roots was originally written almost seven years ago. Then later I started working with the incredibly talented vocalist Dub Princess and this was the first song we completed together.

We did most of the creation in Melbourne, in a little home studio. I wrote, recorded and produced the music and Dub Princess wrote the lyrics. It was pure creative flow.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

Dub Princess writes great lyrics, they are always very thoughtful and honest. I also love the bridge with the runaway trumpet solo.

What would you like listeners to take away from the song?

I wish to convey a message of hope through all the music I create. More then ever, during these unprecedented times of global uncertainty due to Coronavirus, we need music to carry a positive vibration.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

It needs to have that special something. It’s just a feeling.

Who else is in your team?

Over the years I have had the honour to collaborate with so many amazingly talented vocalists and musicians from around the world. I have released music with many international labels including Buddha Bar, Jumpsuit Records and Dub Mission Records. In 2019 I formed my own label called Jujee Records to release my music independently.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

I have lots of fresh music coming out in 2020 including collaborations with vocalists Dub Princess, Bluey Moon, Melissa Hibbert and Hilary Alana.

Can you name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

So many inspiring Kiwi artists to choose from, here’s some songs that get rinsed on my speakers:

Fat Freddys Drop – The Raft  
Lord EchoI Love Music (feat. Lisa Tomlins)
GrouchSoul Provider (feat. Melissa Hibbert)

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? 

This is my first time on NewTracks as far as I know. I haven’t been approved for any funding yet, but I will be applying for each new round this year.

Was there any NZOA criteria you struggled with in the application? 

I had help from the great team at Dub Mission records for this application. But previous applications I made on my own were simple enough to do, you just need to take the time.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

Podcasts: Dolly Parton’s America is one of my favourite podcasts ever. Dolly is an artist that I had completely overlooked and hearing her story left me with so much respect and inspiration.

BBC 4 – Soul Music – Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay
This episode on the creation of Otis Redding’s classic song before his untimely death is great.

YouTube: Tiny Desk Concerts.
So much inspiration from these stripped back performances.
Personal favourites include
1. Chronixx
2. Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals
3. Smif-n-Wessun

Vice News – Weekly New Music Corner
Well known musicians reacting to newly released music.
Start at Episode 1 – Hilarious!

Any last words?

As the whole world goes into lock down, the tight rope that many artists walk may seem more tenuous then ever. With that comes extra anxiety and pressure, so now more then ever it is important to look after our mental health.
Stay safe, be kind to yourself and lets use this time to spread love to those around us. Thanks for the support and big ups NZ On Air.

 

New Tracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand On Air promotes Kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.