I Am Isaac: House, lounge and chillout deejay and producer Izzy B returns

Monday 12th January 2015

Tony Cummings quizzed London-based I AM ISAAC about his many years in EDM

I Am Isaac
I Am Isaac

Anyone who has been closely following EDM for more than a year or two will probably know the name Isaac Butcher - though probably you're more likely to recognise him under his professional names Izzy B and now I Am Isaac. During his years in dance music culture he has recorded and toured with Daniel Bedingfield, remixed for artists like Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Mark Morrison and later on Adele and in October 2014 released a house/lounge/chillout album, 'The Trumpet Shall Sound', in his own right under his new name. Cross Rhythms quizzed the 36 year old deejay, producer and artist about his life in music.

Tony: Give me the lowdown about your early life.

I Am Isaac: I was born in High Wycombe back in 1978. At the time my mum was a busy full time mum - I had three older siblings. My dad was working for the BBC within the electronics purchasing department I believe. My school experience was not good. I loved to be creative from an early age but struggled with concentration in other less stimulating environments/classes. This led to me being a rather mischievous kid and getting into trouble regularly. I also got bullied lots for being so tall (lanky back then), also for my faith and because I had a strange name - Isaac. Also my family was large and not so well off, so I had lots of handed down clothes and so on - never had Adidas or the latest football boots and so the kids would tease me lots. My reaction was to try and become popular by doing stupid or crazy things. I never really felt accepted in school. But when I was about 11 or 12 I started playing the trumpet and joined a music college on Saturdays and started to excel and make lots of friends. Musicians are far more accepting and loving folks, you know.

Tony: How did you become a Christian?

I Am Isaac: My mum always read the Bible to me and when I was six she shared the Gospel and asked me if I wanted to know Jesus. I said yes and accepted him. This was maybe the start of a long journey as by the time I was 16 I was smoking and drinking and by the time I was 18 and left home to study music technology I was very anti-God and anti-Christianity. I had received a lot of hurt and abuse through the 'Church' and for me it was an excuse for people who were insecure or needed a 'god' to help them when they were weak. In my mind I had decided that God may exist but he would need to prove it to me and until then I would be an atheist.

Tony: How did you get into deejaying?

I Am Isaac: House, lounge and chillout deejay and producer Izzy B returns

I Am Isaac: I started playing with mixing when I was just 15; when I was 18 and in full rebellion I bought turntables with my university grant. I remember they were 1210's and with a Gemini mixer. The next thing I was mixing at the student union and the local bars - pretty much for free or for drinks.

Tony: How did you get to know Daniel Bedingfield?

I Am Isaac: I met Daniel when I was 16, we were both at the Cross Rhythms' Roots & Branches Festival at Dudley Castle. We were both staying in the same accommodation section for men and I was in the washroom shaving and Daniel came in and was beat boxing - so I joined in. Then he tried shaving for the first time. It all went from there. He and I had lots of God discussions and also great music chats and beat boxing, making crazy noises and doing some crazy things. Although we didn't always agree, what I liked the most was his undeterred and straight talking about Christ. In fact through my whole rebellious stage of drugs, alcohol and sex, Daniel was like a Christian rock, he wouldn't move on his beliefs and he always invited me to his house and to church.

Then just before we were making beats together I had hit rock bottom in my life. I had tried everything from drugs to love to alcohol and to sex and nothing was satisfying and I just wanted to die. I remember drinking a litre of Vodka and being sober and trying to find something else to take me from my pain, and then I found some tablets containing aspirin, paracetamol and caffeine. I took a whole load of them and then I woke up on the floor, cold, shivering and sweaty and maybe three hours had passed. I slowly stood up and walked round the room reviewing the latest pain and anger in my head. As my money was quickly disappearing I had managed a few days sober and one night I came home from work and was so frustrated and angry with recent events I fell on my knees in my living room and started to cry. Then I heard a voice. It was strange because I didn't hear it audibly but it came very strongly in my head and through my body. It was stronger than any of the other voices in my head and it spoke the following words: "I love you, I love you, I'm not the people who hurt you, come back to me, I love you." I started to cry more deeply and I knew this was God - his presence filled the room and I saw that I had been running from him but he never left me. I saw many situations in which he saved me from terrible consequences. I had been held with a knife to my throat and threatened by a gang that would have killed me given a second chance. This was just one of many!

I started praying and saying sorry to God, I had blamed him for so much. The next day I was in Daniel's church! I kept my phone off for most of the next three weeks and spent a lot of time with God. It was amazing. Six months later many of my prayers were answered and several miracles in my life occurred. Around this same time I was making tunes and beats with Daniel in his studio. After a couple of sessions and a few mixtapes Daniel wrote "Gotta Get Thru This". I said to him it's a hit and subsequently pressed it on vinyl and sent it to Kiss FM's DJ EZ - who played it loads on air and at big events. The next thing was everyone was talking about this track and it blew up!

Tony: I guess working with Daniel ended up being a very hectic time for you.

I Am Isaac: House, lounge and chillout deejay and producer Izzy B returns

I Am Isaac: Before "Gotta Get Thru This" we spent quite a few days writing and recording in Daniel's studio. We released some tracks on vinyl - one was called "You Got Me Singing" which actually got airplay on Kiss FM and Capital a few months before Daniel's big hit. I used to post out the vinyl to deejays on radio and then would carry two or three record bags - weighed a tonne! - on the London Underground visiting different shops to sell them.

The tours started with just me and Daniel playing in clubs around the UK. I would often DJ and work up the crowd for 20 minutes then Daniel would come on and do his thing. This soon went from club to radio to TV and very quickly they added a live guitarist into the mix. After that the three of us went all over Europe, America and Australia. It was a crazy time during which I did lots of remixes for tracks for Polydor; most were unreleased or just pressed onto vinyl but it gave me the experience and work to help me develop my passion to the next level. Annoyingly I had a great drum'n'bass track that got cut from a commercial release the day of pressing... which would have been my biggest release/remix. The industry is very harsh sometimes but it was a good lesson to be learnt.

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