Dreamer Isioma imagines a new world. Their debut album, “Goodnight Dreamer”, which will be released on February 23, is the embodiment of this vision.
“I was like, I’m sick of the world I live in now. My life kinda sucks. full album began in March 2020, just at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.Unlike other artists who struggled artistically at the start of this unprecedented pandemic, Isioma said their work flourished.
“Creatively, I’d say it’s been amazing. I feel like I had a really fun come-up, and I’m still going up. And it was fun to bring my musician friends into this new world as well. and we all learned with each other,” they said.
Indeed, the past few years have been something of a whirlwind for the genre artist. Isioma made a name for himself around the world in 2020 with his viral hit, “Sensitive”. The track, which mixes elements of R&B, funk and hip hop, is a playful sonic marvel, traversing many moods but ultimately ending in a cohesive and unique place. It has now become something of a hallmark of Isioma’s sound. Eclectic, passionate, idiosyncratic yet endlessly unique, Isioma isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of what a pop song should sound like. And the fans are better off for it. Since the release of “Sensitive”, the track has garnered millions of streams and Isioma has performed at festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.
“I really went with the flow,” Isioma said of this new level of fame. “Honestly, I’ve never had things in my life that confused me. Like, even when I’ve made achievements in the past, I’m not really too excited. Things don’t really go to my head.
But getting to that moment took time.
“Well, it started before birth,” Isioma shared. “Deep down, my parents had a plan. They’re like, this kid is going to make music or be an athlete or both. And just as they predicted, both storylines unfolded during Isioma’s teenage years. The “Mommy and Me” music lessons started when Isioma had just come out of the womb. At the age of three, they learned music theory. Their siblings played instruments and later, Isioma too, taking up piano and violin.
“I was in the orchestra and everything, but then I got to high school and it wasn’t really cool to be in a band or an orchestra anymore. So I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to be an athlete now,’” Isioma recalled. After breaking their wrist, they got back into music, but instead of focusing on classical they decided to take matters into their own hands and experiment.
“It was much more liberating,” Isioma began. “I could get any kind of rhythm I wanted, or I could make my voice deeper if I wanted. And it was really like a fun science project. There were times when I was doing a song in high school and I couldn’t think of anything else.
Isioma regularly spent several hours a day working on songs, researching Virtual Studio Technology (VST) plug-ins, or researching drum sounds. “It just created a new passion for me, as it brought me a lot of happiness,” they added.
After getting an internship at a rap blog and attending “all these cool shows and events,” Isioma realized his passion could become a reality. “I was not the best student. So I was like, OK, I finally found something I’m good at,” Isioma said. I just put my whole being into it.
It is this same artistic motivation that has allowed Isioma’s music to reach audiences around the world. Always dedicated to their craft, Isioma’s meticulousness elevates their sound, making their tracks burst with sonic surprises through the use of dreamy guitar chords, ambient synth sounds and garage-like drum patterns. “It’s kind of a pattern in a lot of my music. When people start listening to the album, they will hear it, even though the genres intersect multi-dimensionally,” they said.
A lot of their tracks start with something traumatic happening in their life. From there, Isioma wrote to the beat, then contacted his friends and trusted producers Saint Lewis and Frankie Scoca to play around with the song, test out different sounds, and “feel the vibe.” It sometimes takes over a year to be shared with the world, a process that Isioma still finds daunting.
“I would say every time I drop a song I have a panic attack. At this point it’s like a routine,” Isioma admitted. “I don’t know why it’s a moment so moving to reveal to the world something so personal to me, but it is. But something that drives me to do it more is the reaction of people and people saying, ‘Thank you for dropping the song. This song really got me through it,” or as “This song and these visuals made my day. This allows me to continue.
And on “Goodnight Dreamer,” Isioma hopes fans can continue to identify with their artistic vision. Their debut isn’t just an encapsulation of all the things they can do; it also embodies a new world built with heart and care, a world where people can live beautifully and be themselves. “I hope people feel seen,” added Isioma. “And I hope people know they’re not alone in what they might be going through personally.”
More than dreamerisioma.com.
Britt Julious is a freelance critic.