Isabel Dumaa on Music, Inspiration, and Her Upcoming EP BC Exclusive: Interview and Photos of Isabel Dumaa at Moroccan Lounge 10/14/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- In the ever-evolving landscape of music, one of the greatest joys for a listener is stumbling upon a hidden gem; an artist whose talent shines amidst the sea of sound. Such encounters are akin to discovering a rare, uncharted constellation in the vast cosmos of musical expression. In the spirit of exploration and discovery, I recently embarked on a musical journey that led me to the talent of Isabel Dumaa.
When it comes to new artists, my approach has always been to cast a wide net, to delve into the uncharted territories of Spotify playlists and algorithms. It’s akin to setting sail on a voyage of musical discovery, where I trust the digital compass of music recommendation to guide me towards unexplored territories.
After receiving a press release about Isabel Dumaa, I typed her name into the Spotify search bar. With a simple click, Spotify’s algorithms sprung into action, curating a playlist filled with artists of similar sound and I let is play for the next hour. As the playlist unfolded, and I immersed in a sonic journeym, discovering and passing on some potential new talent.
During that hour, two songs, in particular, caught my attention. The first was “Call My Bluff,” and the second was “Always Leaving You” – the song which the press release was about- both songs by Isabel. The fact that I interrupted my day-job work flow seek out the name of the song and the artist who sang it, suggested to me that I should head out see this artist live. Luckily, She was set to perform at the Moroccan Lounge on and I replied to the press release that I wanted to attend.
Opening for Isabel was Kate Grahn, a the 25-year-old singer-songwriter hailing from the heart of Los Angeles. She graced the stage with a fun and passionate. Kate seems to embody resilience and soul in her music. There’s a real power in her voice, and she seems to recall the female spirits of the golden age of rock. There were hints of a rebellious spirit, soul and a spark of feminism. She seamlessly blended pop/rock and indie-alternative genres.
There’s a real authenticity to Kate. After joking about the late crowd trickling into the room, she and her “stripped down” band dove into the set and gave a really strong performance, singing like she was in front of sold out auditorium, belting notes out with the best of them.
Isabel’s performance exceeded my expectations. For being so young, she displayed a real sense purpose and professionalism on stage, and the songs she sang sounded just as good as the recordings that had piqued my interest. She even performed a handful of new songs, and they sounded just as exciting as the ones that are currently availalbe on streaming platforms.
Prior to Isabel taking the stage, I was able to sit down with Isabel for a few minutes to ask her about her musical journey, her process and her inspirations.
BLURRED CULTURE: You mentioned your love for artists from various genres, how do you incorporate those diverse influences into your music? And what do you think it adds to sound that sets you apart from other artists?
ISABEL DUMAA: I think growing up, being surrounded by so much music, and I mean I’m a person who loves a lot of music. So I think that finds its way into my music whether it’s in my writing style, whether it’s in the melodies that I’m making. The special guitar lick that I’m doing. I love getting to pull inspiration from anyone in everyone, and so I definitely do think that makes its way into every aspect of my music, whether it’s the lyrics, the melodies or the music itself.
Is there any music today that’s inspiring you?
I’ve been loving Laufey’s new album. She’s very jazz. I’ve been obsessed with her album recently. And who else? Omar Apollo has been a big one recently as well… and Noah Khan… The are all very different, but all of it… in their own way… I feel like find its way into my music as well.
You’ve also mentioned that your music has evolved since the release of “Call My Bluff”… a favorite track of mine… Can you share some specific ways in which your style and approach to music have changed or matured over time?
I mean… the same way that people do… I think music just evolves with you as you grow. I feel really proud of “Call My Bluff” and for the music that I put out a few years ago, but I definitely know myself more as an artist and the sound that I want to go for. I feel like over the past year or two, I’ve really honed in on my individual sound as an artist, and feeling more confident with going into sessions, being like, “This is what I want the songs to sound like.” I definitely think I’ve dialed a little bit more into kind of more of an organic sound I guess you could say. But that’s still subject to change, and I think it will ever be a changing thing.
How do you pick, or how do you end up working with the producers that you’ve worked with? I know the song “Always Leaving You” had a ton of producers on that track.
“Always Leaving You” was a funny track because I actually wrote “Always Leaving You” in 2020, and it was ona a writing trip. We just brought in a bunch of producers, and it went through a bunch of different phases. That was kind of an anomaly… or an abnormal… song process. I’ve never really done anything like that with any of my other songs. Normally, I just get connected through my team or through just meeting people in the world and making music together.
How much do those producers add to what you’ve already written or what you brought to the table?
A lot, and it sometimes depends. A lot of times, I’ll have written a song and I’ll come and a session and be like, “This is a song that I’ve written, this is the vision that I have for it, this is what I want it to sound like, let’s make it a song.” And sometimes, we’ll go into a session with absolutely nothing and sit, and just start completely from scratch. That’s is a more collaborative experience. But no matter what, when you’re working with someone, the music is the way it is because of who you’re working with.
You mentioned that themes of self-discovery and coming of age resonate with you, and based on the four songs that have come out, yes, it was a very strong theme. Can you delve deeper into how those themes manifest in your lyrics? And why do they hold such a significance to you? Is it because maybe you’re a little young and it’s all you have to pull from?
You hit that one right on the nail. I think, these have been a really crazy couple years for me. I moved to LA knowing not a single person. I think your early 20s… regardless of what you’re doing… it’s an important time. You’re learning who you are as an adult. And so it’s been a really exciting time, it’s been a really lonely time, it’s been a really wonderful time and a really challenging time. And so a lot of my songs have been written about that, because that’s just a lot of what I’ve been feeling. It’s figuring out how to navigate the world as myself and what that means. And the responsibility that comes with being adult, and the life that goes hand in hand with being an artist. And starting to lose a little bit of childhood and then also being really excited for what’s to come.
There’s plenty to draw from with your experience moving to LA.
Social media plays a significant role in you connecting with your audience. How do you balance the need to engage with fans online, while maintaining authenticity and privacy in your own personal life?
Social media, it’s a really wonderful thing, and it can also be a really tricky thing. I feel really lucky with the people that I’ve gotten a chance to connect to on social media. I always try my best to be as authentic as I can. When it comes to social media, with that said, you don’t want to be displaying everything, because it’s social media anyone can see anything.
Which is a little bit ironic… a lot of your songs are pretty personal.
True. Which is one aspect, and there is that… that’s just kind of part of the territory when it comes to music. It’s a little bit like sharing your diary with the world. So with that said, I do try my best to be as authentic with my songs and with what I’m putting out there, because I always appreciate that when I’m hearing that from other people, so I hope that other people can appreciate that from me. I mean, social media has its pros and it has its downs, but it has been really wonderful to get to connect with people and I always try to be myself the most that I can.
So, inspiration can come from unexpected places. I saw on one of your recent Tik-Toks about getting inspiration from a childhood quote about falling and flying that inspired a lion in one of your songs. Are there any other particularly unusual or surprising sources of inspiration other than your whole move to LA? Are there any other little tidbits of inspiration that influenced your songwriting recently that are a little more outside of the box?
I have this note, in my Notes app, that’s just like an ever-growing note. Anytime I hear a phrase or I hear a word that I think is cool, it just immediately goes into the Notes app. So… I kind of think…. like what’s a cool one recently… Oh, here’s a cool one, I was reading an article about flowers blooming in Antarctica, and I thought that was like such a cool phrase.
It’s a very striking image. Will that be a linte in your next single?
Hopefully, we’ll see. Yes, that was one that I thought was a cool thing.
What can fans and listeners expect from your upcoming EP in terms of themes, musical styles? Is it going to be akin to what you recently released? Or is there maybe a track or two that are maybe kind of like you want to surprise your audience with something?
I think definitely. I mean, my music is my music, but we are moving a little bit into… not a different direction, but I think just homing in on the sound that I’m kind of trying to dive into.
And that sound is….?
I tend like think like Mackie Rogers meets Lizzie McAlpine meets like a little bit of Taylor.
I got you.
But definitely diving a little bit more into I think the slower side of my songs. I haven’t really gotten a chance to release any slower, more intimate songs. I think lyrically, my songs tend to be pretty personal. But I love writing slow songs, and I haven’t really gotten a chance to release any of those. So definitely, a few of those are making their way on the EP. And then more in the genre of “Quarter Life Crisis” and “Always Leaving You” will be present.
“In the genre” as in thematically or musically?
Sound wise. Thematically… a little all over the place. We’ve got some heartbreak, we’ve got some growing up, we’ve got all of the above.
Looking beyond music, are there any other creative endeavors or interests that you’d like to explore?
My roommate is currently trying to convince me to take an acting class with him, so we’ll see if I end up doing that. But… I mean, creative is creative, music is my passion and my purpose. I do love writing, and so writing is definitely something… But music is the main focus for the time being.
Well, it’s been a pleasure. You were a delight.
Right back at you.