ABOUT

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Greetings, and welcome to the shimmering oasis of the internet that is my website. When people ask me what I do, the easiest thing to say is “I’m a musician.” This is invariably followed by “Oh cool! What kind of musician?” which, in my case isn’t such a simple question to answer. However, this is my “ABOUT” page, so I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t give you something around the halfway mark between a thirty-second elevator pitch and a full-length memoir. Side note: If you’re looking for my resume or the short, third-person version of this bio that sounds like it was written by the copyist I may or may not have, there’s a link at the bottom of this page.

 

In the realm of music making, I actively practice three disciplines: composition, production, and instrumental performance. There is undoubtedly overlap between the  three, and therein lies the grey area that I’ll do my best to decode below:

 

As a composer, my biggest outlet is instrumental chamber and orchestral music. Composing has connected me with some of my closest friends, as well as my greatest mentors, such as the GRAMMY-winning producer Robert Sadin. In addition to studying privately with him while I was a student at The New School in New York City, Robert produced and mixed the recording for one of my first major chamber pieces - a string sextet entitled In The Heart Of The Earth, which was released in April 2021. My work as a composer has also allowed me to travel to incredible places like Prague, where I was invited to attend the International Antonin Dvorak Composition Competition (and took home the special prize for best chamber music), and Merida, where I spent a week recording with two dear friends in the studio of esteemed Mexican composer Javier Alvarez. Compositions of mine have been recognized by organizations such as The American Prize, ASCAP, The Tribeca New Music Festival, and Downbeat Magazine. I recently finished a collection of vignettes for solo piano, which I’ll be recording and releasing sometime in 2022. The next big project I’m tackling is a commission for chamber orchestra that will be premiered at a concert at Columbia University in the summer of 2023.

 

As a producer, my original music falls under the equally broad and vague category of sample-based electronic music. This means that, much like a collage artist creates pieces by manipulating small snippets of pre-existing visual material, I create recordings by manipulating small snippets of audio. However, that only paints part of the picture because not all of my work uses samples (although most of it does), and almost all of it involves recording additional layers on top of any samples I may be using. Stylistically it falls somewhere in the intersection between beat music and ambient, with a healthy dose of experimental flavor throughout. I have been fortunate enough to release several projects with the Calgary-based label Inner Ocean Records, including a pair of solo EP’s entitled Revelries Pt. I+II, as well as individual tracks on a variety of  their compilation albums. I also occasionally do production work for artists other than myself. For the last year I’ve been working heavily with a brilliant Los Angeles-based artist named Subat, whose music blends experimental rock and electronic music with traditional Afghan folk and classical elements. Expect some of those recordings to be released within the next year.

 

As an instrumentalist, I’m a bit of a Swiss army knife. My first instrument was guitar, which I started playing at age six, although I never studied it formally. My primary instrument is tenor saxophone, which I studied as my major at The New School For Jazz And Contemporary Music (alongside a minor in classical composition at Mannes). Having played in big bands since I was thirteen years old, I’ve picked up a wide variety of other wind instruments including alto/soprano/baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute. More recently, I’ve been focusing a lot of my musical energy on the piano, which I’ve found to be an incredibly useful tool for composing and producing. My abilities on these instruments, combined with help from friends, mentors, and a healthy dose of good luck, has given me the opportunity to play in some pretty amazing places around the world - Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC, The Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Auditorio Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, and the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, to name a few.

 

It’s the way these three fields intersect that really defines who I am as an artist. Some of my compositional work involves electronic and sample elements. Some of my production involves composing parts on staff paper for other musicians to play. Some of my work in both categories involves me playing parts on one or more of the various instruments I just listed. So if I were to describe myself as just a composer, producer, or multi-instrumentalist, that would only tell part of the story; the reality is that I engage in all three fields equally, and all of them influence each other.

 

In addition to my musical pursuits, I love making visual art using ink on paper (including a couple of my own album covers) and film photography - you can see some samples of my work in the “VISUAL ART” tab of this site. I mostly work out of my home studio in Philadelphia, although I occasionally engineer sessions at an amazing studio in the area called Rittenhouse Soundworks. I also try to travel around as often as possible, especially when it involves recording or playing live, so keep an eye out! If you made it this far, consider me grateful and honestly a little concerned.

 

-Isak