South London singer-songwriter Jake Isaac never intended to be a singer, he used to want to be a pilot, then a drummer.
He began singing at around age 19 and over the years developed his own sound and style.
Yet even after forging a successful music career in his late 20s, supporting the likes of Ella Eyre and Paloma Faith, receiving critical acclaim and being spotted by Elton John (all in the last four years) Jake reveals, “I still don’t think I’m all that at singing.”
Despite this he is clearly gifted, has a magnetising presence both on and off stage and standing at 6ft 4ins it is hard not to take notice of him.
While he admits he can get nervous about what he does, he has found his remedy.
“I rearrange my thinking and remember it is not all about me,” he explains.
“It is a privilege to be on stage and I embrace it because people are up for listening so you do the best you can.”
Brought up in the church, he cites his father, a revered church leader, as one of his biggest influences.
The reason he eventually decided to get into music was because he felt strongly challenged by society and was aware how much of a positive impact music can have on people.
Some of the artists he grew up listening to, including Paul Simon and Michael Jackson, he admires most for their ability to move people.
He shares how in his early teenage years while his friends were all listening to garage and grime, he would come home to his dad singing along to Paul Simon’s Graceland album and something stuck.
Since his musical journey began Jake has released four solo EPs including, Where we Belong, War Child, Hearts & Parables and Back to You.
War Child received critical acclaim when it was released in the summer of 2014.
It was inspired by ‘situations in life and relationships that can seem intense and aggravating to the heart’ with the most well-known track from the EP being Long Road.
Lyrically, it is a song about how long and arduous life can be, however, rather than being melancholy Jake wrote the track to get the crowd dancing as he propels us down the long road with vigorous energy.
Abrupt pace changes, mixing pithy guitar strums with smooth vocals make this a fun rather than emotionally exhausting journey.
Another track, appropriately named Hope, gives its listener exactly that – a song for our generation given the events of recent times, but ageless in its message.
With a more calm and mellow vibe, Jake swaps the guitar for the piano and the track is carried by Jake’s soulful voice and beautiful lyrics, ‘Hold on/ hope is on her way/hold on/hope is on her way/ but until she gets here/don’t be afraid/ in the dark of the storm/ for there will be better days/ keep holding on’.
Jake takes his listeners on a musical, and some might say, spiritual journey.
This is perhaps why he got picked up by a manager at Rocket after playing Glastonbury Festival, and subsequently why Elton John signed him officially to Rocket Records (home of Ed Sheeran) at the end of 2014 and released the record, Where We Belong, under his own imprint of the label.
The future looks bright for Jake Isaac, and I am sure he will continue to enjoy the long road his musical endeavours lead him down.
His upcoming UK and Europe tour starts in April, with a gig at the Green Door Store in Brighton on May 1.
This first appeared in etc Magazine’s April edition out now.