INTERVIEW: JESSE ISADORE (NARWHAL BLOODBATH, DESIGN THE VOID)

Jesse Isadore is unquestionably my favorite harsh vocalist in the region for smaller bands. He’s a great dude all around and incredibly talented. Jesse is excellent in the studio in terms of creative layering. His range is unbelievable, which allows him to build a multitude of harsh vocal characters and layer several different pitches on top of each other in very unique ways. But don’t let that fool you into thinking Jesse can’t pull off a top notch live performance. The layering Jesse can’t always pull off live is always replaced by the most consistently powerful, and well pronounced scream vocals I’ve heard from someone in a “local band” in so, so long.

Recently, Jesse came to me about his solo project. At first I was skeptical, because after listening to Narwhal Bloodbath and Design the Void, two crazy, crazy modern metalcore bands with some insane guitar and drum work, I wasn’t entirely sure what Jesse had up his sleeve whilst being on his own for a change. Naturally, I ended up kicking myself for my assumption. The music Jesse had a certain someone compose for this solo project is perfect for what he’s trying to do. Jesse’s vocals shine bright, but at the same time, the music hardly slacks.

1. What first inspired you to go solo for a record?

So, I liked the idea of making an album that is sort of disjointed and all over the place. A record comprised of individual songs all inspired individually by different kinds of music, but also shares a single narrative. I liked the idea of making a record that doesn’t fit into any “genre”. I wanted to let the lyrics and concept tie everything together, and not have “the sound” be the driving factor.

2. Tell us about the music beneath the vocals for this project? Who is writing/programming the drums, bass, and guitar?

So, the instrumentals are all written by Harry Tadayon, he’s a buddy of mine from the UK. He has done an amazing job, I have the freedom to say “I want this exactly” and he puts it together almost perfectly every time. He’s really blown me away in all honestly, he nails it every single time.

My drummer in design the void Joshua Johnson is mixing and mastering everything and he’s done a great job giving all the songs punch and bringing everything to life. Everything has honestly turned out significantly better than expected up to this point. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

3. What’s a basic overview of your plan for releases, shows, etc.?

So I want to make it a full length, and I want to slowly drip feed everyone singles and then release it as a complete album at the end. Some lyric videos, some AMV videos possibly.

4. Any other projects in the works that we don’t know about?

For now, those are the only ones I can discuss publicly unfortunately!

5. What’s new with Narwhal Bloodbath and Design the Void?

Both NBB and DTV have been in the kitchen cooking up new tunes as well, you’ll be seeing DTV music very soon!

6. Do you ever feel like slowing down, or do you prefer the constant flow of creativity, deadlines, band life, etc.?

I’m torn, sometimes I feel like I’m biting off more than I can chew. In a lot of respects I am, but I’m also becoming better and better at song writing, becoming more efficient with recording, and overall learning to make a better product, quicker. So it’s kind of a catch 22 do you slow your own growth to buy yourself some more leisure time? Or do you treat music as your primary function and move one step closer to your dream? The older I get the more I get enjoyment in pursuing music as my craft. In my experience I don’t think you can slow down in this game. It’s so easy to regress and get complacent and you’ll watch an entire year go by without accomplishing anything. It’s a tough line to walk, but I prefer to keep the snowball rolling down the hill.

7. What are some lyrics you’re most proud of having written?

In the solo project? There’s a couple lines at the end of what will be my first single “Saren’s Song”. If you’re familiar with the mass effect series, you’ll know it has a complex reward/consequences system the entire project is through the eyes of a full paragon shepherd and saren chooses at the end to take his own life instead of living indoctrinated by the reapers. It’s one last attempt to control his own destiny. Shortly before that he comes to the realization that he is indoctrinated an can no longer control his own thoughts. So his last attempt to save the Galaxy is to take his own life. That resonated with me, and I wrote this because of it.

“All hail those who bathe in the fire.

Cleansing by agony, we burn in the pyres.

The shadows that follow me are cast by the light.

So join me as we struggle, into the night.”

8. What inspires you the most to write lyrics?

I typically find inspiration in other art, video game story lines, old retellings of history, podcasts, and everything in-between. I actively try but to draw from other metal music I think it influences my writing too much when I do.

9. What is the biggest musical obstacle you’ve both faced AND overcome?

Time management, and recording at home. These are not really things you ever really “overcome” they’re sort of a never ending battle. Learning to record at home gave me the tools to refine my writing process, and learning to manage my time and focus on music made me become overall quicker which is almost like a superpower sometimes, someone sends you an idea you send it back now you have a song. Those two things have made music so much easier, no studio time, no pressure, you’re not on the clock and over performing to get out of the studio.

10. What techniques have you been working on lately to push yourself musically?

I’ve been working on just generally diversifying my Vocal range, then trying to realistically apply it in a way that works. I’ve been focusing a lot on pronunciation and syllable sliding to make that deathcore style of aggression and energy a little more understandable and palatable while keeping that energy.

11. When live shows returned post the worst months of the pandemic, what was your first show back?

My first show back was actually in Erie, at Basement Transmissions and it was awesome! I had an absolute blast!

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