Over the last five years, South London-born songwriter and producer Jamie Isaac has crafted a palate of hazy beats, jazzy piano and nocturnal soul, and carving a space of his own by infusing classically trained musicality with head-nod hip-hop rhythms. His debut album Couch Baby (2016) and 2018 follow-up (04:30). He’s since performed a legendary COLORS session; become one of the faces of Levi’s and Tommy Hilfiger; and performed live around the world, most notably enjoying his first sold-out headline tour of Japan.
Following the successes of (04:30) Idler, Isaac headed to LA, immersing himself in the lifestyle and music scene. It was there that he met fellow beatsmith Nosaj Thing and the two proved to be a natural fit. They immediately headed to Nosaj Thing’s home studio to record together and “Next To Me” is the first glimpse into their combined vision–a dusty, deep-house groove that takes both artists into surprising new territory. It’s an intriguing teasing of their joint EP simply titled 3, to be released shortly after on January 31st.
Nosaj, who’s previous collaborators include Chance the Rapper, Jamie XX and Toro y Moi has bought a critical ear and an RnB shuffle to Jamie’s playing, and, having spent years exploring intimate, late night crooning, Jamie Isaac was ready to introduce a new energy to his music. About “Next To Me,” he comments: “I’m really trying to make music that people can actually move to. I love to dance myself… It was great working with someone who’d just say no – if he didn’t like my melodies he’d push back. Nosaj and I understand each other’s music, we have similar styles, and we’ve become really good friends. We’re making songs for people to have fun to – I’m into going down that route. I love pop music..!”
Fans of Jamie’s previous emotionally stark content need not worry – his swerve into the light has been largely confined to the music, whilst the lyrics cover his experience of dealing with the pain that followed the recent collapse of his long-term relationship. “I love the tongue in cheek-ness of having really sad lyrics and putting them to a happy beat.” He explains, on the meaning of “Next To Me.” “The lyrics are about what I’ve been through over the last half year – being with somebody for the last five or six years and not being with them anymore. I guess all the records I do are breakup records, but this is the breakup record.”
“Next To Me” keeps Jamie Isaac’s notably intimate vocals, whilst Nosaj Thing’s lo-fi house influence brings an upbeat groove to the track. The result is a combination of deep textures and entrancing melodies that are designed to get people up on their feet. Talking about the experience of spending his time in LA and working with Nosaj Thing, Jamie Isaac has a new-found enthusiasm and excitement for the future, commenting “I feel reborn. I wanna be a different, happier healthier person in every aspect I guess. I’ve never shown people this side of me”.