The aura of irony leading to my discovery of Alex Isley’s music is pretty amazing and satisfying. Roughly a half hour prior to seeing her name for the first time, I was in a conversation with a friend discussing what I feel at times is the decline in the quality of mainstream R&B. In my opinion, the majority of the music is made with intentions of going Pop first, relying on a catchy chorus and beat versus having a singer who can flat out sing, or whose lyrics put you in a state of mind you can identify with. Not everything fits this description, of course, but it’s definitely noticeable.
Enter Alexandra Isley, the 25 year old Los Angeles native by way of New Jersey and daughter of Ernie Isley of the legendary Isley Brothers. After creating a buzz with several covers of her peers’ work (Frank Ocean, Cocaine 80’s, Dwele, etc) and her performances as part of the Feel Good Project along with members Kenyon Dixon, Jaiden & T. Gooch, the stage was set for her to release her self written and self produced debut EP “The Love/Art Memoirs”, which she describes as her personal account of life documented.
Since it’s release “Love/Art” has received praise and adulation from many blogs/sites, including my own. I found Isley’s project to definitely be a start in what I was looking for. It possesses the authenticity I love hearing in music and gave me just enough to keep wanting to hear more. I can tell it’s only the beginning and the potential for more is definitely there as she grows more and more as an artist. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Isley with the goal of familiarizing myself and my audience more with the up & coming songstress destined to create her own legacy while proudly carrying the Isley torch.
Soul Child: Exclusive Interview With Alex Isley
Outside of growing up in the presence of great musicians, what have been your experiences growing up in such a great legacy & background?
I’ve always had my own affinity and curiosity about different types of music, and so I developed appreciation for my family’s music at an early age. I’ve always known that they have made a great musical impact and that they represent longevity in the business. As a little kid with such fascination for music, I really took in my surroundings whenever I would be at the studio or at a rehearsal. Watching my father and uncles perform is so automatic for me, but at the same time, it still trips me out that I have witnessed as much as I have, and that I’m a part of this rich musical bloodline. Watching them from the side of the stage is still an incredible feeling for me.
Have you felt any pressure coming into music yourself carrying the name?
I hadn’t really dealt with any pressure up until recently; there’s definitely a desire to live up to what’s been done and even to meet listener’s assumptions, but at the same time, I’m introducing something new and carrying everything further. It’s pressure to maintain some successful balance between all of that.
How long have you been singing, writing and producing?
Singing: forever lol. Professionally, about 5 or 6 years. I used to write silly poems and songs starting in the 3rd or 4th grade I think. I really started to take my writing seriously and expand on it when I was maybe 15. I started producing once I got some basic equipment to work with/on about 3 years ago.
Explain the meaning of the title “Love/Art Memoirs”. What does the name mean to you?
Love and Art (at least as how I know and define them) are synonymous in a lot of ways. With both, I am vulnerable, strong-headed and determined to do what I want, passionate. Both love and art play such huge parts in my life. In terms of the project, love and art are definitely one in the same. Interchangeable. Everything heard on the Love/Art Memoirs is based on my personal experiences. Writing this material really helped me to document my feelings when they were still pretty fresh. And now I don’t have to hold everything in; I can identify with people who are listening and are having/have had similar experiences, and I can move on.
Which song is the most special or important one to you?
I can’t say if one song is more important than the rest. I’d say Set In Stone can give somewhat an idea of what the rest of the project entails, sound and content wise.
How did the Feel Good Music Project come together? Will we see a release from the collective?
That was something brought together by Kenyon Dixon; he had the idea to have us four artists showcase our original material, since we’ve all put out projects pretty recently. It was really dope hearing and seeing everyone in their own element. I don’t know about a collective release, that’d be dope though!
What is your personal favorite era of R&B/Soul music? Which artists would you say were the face of that era?
I’m torn between old school and 90s R&B. The 90s are so nostalgic for me, I remember a lot of SWV (I wanted to sound just like Coko lol), Babyface, Toni Braxton, Aaliyah, Faith Evans, Brandy, Tamia, and I loooved Tevin Campbell lol. I feel like I’m an old soul at heart though. There’s the givens. Stevie is a given. Marvin. Chaka, the Gap Band, EWF, my Dad played a lot of War and the Ohio Players.
How do you feel about the climate of mainstream R&B today in terms of creativity and language vs. that of your favorite era?
I was actually recently just thinking about how much R&B (as it sounds today) has really evolved and become more and more influenced by straight pop music. It’s taking on a different shape. Not knocking anyone, but just given the current state/direction, it sounds like everything continues to melt together into one general sound. But even within mainstream, there are still some exceptions. I like some of the mainstream stuff, and it’s so different from my favorite eras that I can’t really compare. It’d almost be like comparing baseball and football.
What is the influence J. Dilla has on you?
J. Dilla is in my top five. For me, you have Quincy, Prince, the Neptunes, Timbaland, and Dilla. As far as my own production, I’d say he probably has more influence and presence than anyone else. Strong statement, but it’s true. I feel like his music can go with or without anyone rapping or singing along.
What is your favorite song he was a part of?
I actually prefer most of the time just listening to his instrumentals. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. I go through listening phases; I’ll listen to something of his for days or weeks on end. Right now, I’m listening to Jaylib’s Champion Sound.
When your music career is finished, how do you want your legacy to read?
That I carried and added on to the legacy, inspired in some form, connected, made someone feel, and that I eliminated the skip button (at least for the most part lol).
Stay Connected with Alex Isley
For inquiries & booking: ADillaMusic@gmail.com