Greta Isaac‘s second EP ‘I Think You’d Hate It Here’ is full of solid gold. Following up on last year’s debut collection ‘Pessimist’, it’s been gathering plaudits from all the right places already. Finally out today, she’s a talent on the verge of something special. In charge of her aesthetic universe, the EP also features a track written alongside her mate Orla Gartland – a long term Dork fave. We asked Greta to talk us through it for our latest Artist’s Guide.
I remember writing ‘Mediocrity’ at a time when I had a lot of things on my mind about why I’d been cocooning myself in who I thought I was for most of my life. I’d been experiencing a lot of paranoia and was caught in a heightened state of anxiety for a lot of my late teens and early twenties. This song was an ode to that part of my life. ‘Mediocrity’ feels like a sad poem about settling for less in my life in order to feel safe. I was kidding myself into thinking that feeling paralysed by life was actually comforting; if there wasn’t risk, then nothing bad would happen to me. This song is a lullaby and a farewell to that part of myself.
I wrote ‘PAYRI$E’ with Martin Luke Brown and Nova Blue in London last year. I wanted to write something that felt unapologetically brash and loud and demanding. I think for a lot of my life, I’ve made myself smaller in order to accommodate other people. Even when I’ve intentionally made myself bigger, funnier, prettier, it’s been to entertain or perform or to try and facilitate the perfect conditions for how I’m experienced by other people.
I tend to take on a bit of a character when I write, but I wanted to use the process of writing ‘PAYRI$E’ as a way to take up some space for myself and demand more from my life and from my relationships. The outcome is a bit of a mess, to be honest, but the character of ‘PAYRI$E’ just doesn’t have the resources to explicitly ask for what she needs in her relationship.. so I guess she’ll just take cash credit or cheque for now while she figures it out!
How are you not freaking out?
I wrote this one with my good friend Orla Gartland and Matt Zara. This song has always felt like a dark, wet, cold suburban neighbourhood. I guess what that brings up for me is the suppression of emotion in a bid to keep up with appearances or to avoid becoming difficult. And even when you’re brave enough to speak up and be truthful about your emotions, and you’re met with resistance or rejection, you can feel lonely, and it can be difficult to trust yourself ever again. To me, this is a song about honesty, anger and resistance.
I wrote ‘NUH UH’ around the same time as ‘Polyfilla’ and ‘5’1′, although the tone and essence of this song could not be more different. ‘NUH UH’ is manic, delusional, desperate and supercharged to the point where I don’t really feel like it’s me who’s singing it when I listen to it. Sonically it feels like the moment you have a ‘spark’ with someone – a spike in energy, your eyes blacken, your skin gets hot and sweaty. I see it in myself and people around me; it looks like we’re all turning into vampires, desperate for human connection and the feeling of being wanted by another person. It’s fascinating.
The artwork, for me, sort of mirrors the transformation that happens when that spark is ignited. Me and Suzie Walsh, my creative director, wanted to create an image that felt like a primal alluring shiny object, to entice someone or something. I’m wearing a dress made entirely of emergency foil blankets by designer Gloria Jane Royer. It reminded me of how a magpie forages for shiny objects that could feel quite mundane to us, but are captivating through the eyes of someone seeking it.
This song was pretty cathartic for me to write. I was going through a time in my life when I found myself surrounded by friends, family members, and fleeting encounters that all seemed to be working through difficulties within themselves that stemmed from hereditary trauma and pain.
I think there’s a point in everyone’s lives where you realise that growing up doesn’t just mean leaving home, making advances in your career or gaining independence or even starting a family of your own. A huge part of growing up is healing the child inside of us and accepting that we’re not superhuman. We’re not indestructible. We need care and boundaries. This song is for those who might be struggling with those feelings right now and how even in an adult state, there might be a vulnerable child within us that needs looking after.
5’1 is the stubborn, angry child in me that doesn’t want to compromise or empathise when she’s met with conflict. The song was a product of losing interest or drive to make a relationship work and how I tend to withdraw and go inward when a situation gets a little too big and overwhelming to manage.
Greta Isaac’s EP ‘I Think You’d Hate it Here’ is out now.