Hailing from Kent; 20-year-old singer-songwriter, Issey Cross, has already created her own unique sound that sits somewhere between streetwise R&B and artful pop-noir.
With a catalogue of music already in the works, London-based artist Issey Cross is an exciting new talent to watch in 2021. Having experienced an upbringing surrounded by music, this led to her writing her own songs and taking the stage at just 13 years old.
Carving out a niche for herself within the industry, Issey’s idiosyncratic blend of alt-pop, hip-hop and R&B delivers a candid insight into the artist’s novel sonic world; acting as a musical chronicle and soundtrack to her personal experiences. Delving into some of her highs and lows, including the juxtaposing pleasures and heartache of love, lust and relationships, Issey explores this through a smooth delivery of captivating beats and skilled lyricism.
Now on our radar with her debut single, “Who”, Issey delivers an enticing introduction to her stylish and vibrant artistry, fusing together a blend of sounds and generic influences to produce something authentic, honest and relatable.
We spoke with Issey about what’s shaped her as an artist, her creative processes, and what she hopes to achieve next. Jump in!
For those who may be unfamiliar with you or your music, how would you best describe your artistic sound and style?
I would describe my artistic sound as being pop with R&B and hip-hop influences. I love writing to a beat that sounds quite dark and moody! As for my style, I would describe it as quite grungey yet bold.
How has the pandemic altered your creative process? What does a typical day look like for you at the moment?
I think the pandemic has altered my creative process a lot as I can’t be in the studio writing and making songs with other people. A typical day at the moment is normally just doing exercise in the mornings and working on ideas for visuals and music alone on my laptop!
Have you found it difficult to stay creative and inspired over these past few months? Where have you been drawing your creative inspiration from this year?
I have found it a bit hard to stay inspired these past few months due to being in and out of lockdowns. I feel like I’ve been drawing most of my inspiration from reflecting on my own feelings and the people I’ve been staying with.
Born and raised in Kent, moving to London at 18, how did the local music scene in Kent – and the wider UK music scene – influence your sound?
Growing up in Kent, I was surrounded by a lot of singer-songwriters which definitely helped me find my love for writing and performing live, but moving to London really helped me find the sound that I have now. I think just being in the city and living in Tottenham opened my mind up and showed me that I could make any music I wanted to make.
What’s your usual creative process when it comes to the writing side of things? Do you tend to go with the flow and embrace your thoughts and feelings as they come, or do you have a more filtered and methodical approach?
Normally when writing a new song, I like to have some chords or a beat, then I just sing melodies and find the ones that I like best for each section of the song. I think I tend to look for the chorus melody first because once you’ve got that it’s easier to get a feel for the rest of the song. I like to have a phrase or word that I can build a concept around at the start, though I also like to see what the song feels like when I’m singing the melodies and listening to the production.
Was a career in music always a natural direction for you?
I’ve wanted to make music for as long as I can remember and never really had a backup plan! So I think it’s been quite a natural path from when I was younger to today as it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
When working on, and gearing up for the release of new music, what do you hope to achieve with each new project, and what do you want listeners to take away from your music?
Are there any artists who you would love to collaborate with?
I think my dream collabs whether it’s writing or a feature would be people like Ashnikko, Doja Cat, Headie One, Unknown T, Kehlani, Rico Nasty, Drake, beabadoobee, Lorde, Chance, 21 Savage! I have a lot!
Playing gigs in local pubs from the age of 13; what’s been your most memorable performance, and what is your favourite thing about performing live?
I think my most memorable performance was probably my first gig when I was about 13 in the pub opposite my Dad’s salon! I was really nervous and started singing a Taylor Swift song on guitar and went to sing one of the high notes and completely fucked it up! I’ll always remember that moment because of how embarrassed I was. Me and my sister still laugh about it to this day! My favourite thing about performing live is defo the feeling of the connection with the audience and the adrenaline after. I can be awkward sometimes meeting new people but as soon as I’m on stage in front of lots of strangers singing, the anxiety goes
What are some of the things you hope to achieve within your career over the next year, and beyond? Is there a particular milestone you’re currently working towards?