Seek.me Magazine was gracious enough to give me a two-page spread in their 2013 Chromatics Issue #5! read through and find out how (i am) isis came about, my inspirations and some of my fave fashion accessories!
Tell us how (i am) isis came about?
(i am) isis started off as just me – isis. Raised in Minneapolis, i was pretty well known as a spoken word artist, was performing throughout the country and evolved adding rhythms and melodies to my work – eventually crafting out full songs.
As my musical side grew, I realized I wanted, needed, a band to help me bring these sounds and word colors to life. I also needed a change. So I decided to move back East, where Craigslist and Backpage became my close friends! It took a while, but over the course of the past couple of years I found, met, stalked musicians who understood, or even just appreciated, this kaleidoscope of music I was creating.
After some missteps, changes and regrouping, I found a family with an amazing group of artists– Mike Koltosky (bass), Manny Mav (drums), Diamond Dave (guitar) and Isaac Childs (keys) — who now create with me.
As far as the name itself, as I was traveling and performing, I discovered that this name that had found me belonged to so many others. And, of course, it represents this Egyptian goddess. I just wanted to make it clear that I’m not calling myself a god (hence the lowercase) or that I’m better than anybody. I’m just me. An amazing me, of course, but, just me. And I want everyone to be happy and comfortable with being who they are. So the “(i am)” just signifies we are who we are.
What inspires your writing?
Life and everyday experiences typically influence my writing. I tend to come from a spiritual and activist point of view, so that is definitely reflected in my writing. Our last two singles “Get Free” and “All of Me” are prime examples of that.
What began first, your love for music or your love for poetry?
I can’t really say. I grew up with both! My dad is a prominent DJ in the Liberian community, so I’ve been surrounded and nurtured by music since I can remember. And, my mom is an avid reader, so I’ve appreciated curling up with a good book since my days of Barbie. I think, though, that while music has always moved me, poetry is what freed me.
I discovered poets like Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni and Ntozake Shange who used language to heal whole communities. I learned that I could write to heal me. That was very powerful. At the same time, I learned how to capture other people’s voices around me – from writing love poems for my guy friends to give to their girls in high school and about the abuse I witnessed to a childhood neighbor to writing short stories and plays.
It’s a blessing now, to be able to bring those words and experiences to my music – where it’s not just about partying and we can provide substance and healing while still rocking our hearts out.