I’ve been saying this for years, but Jesse Isadore is easily my top harsh vocalist in the WNY area. Jesse actually lives in Pennsylvania, but his presence in and around WNY is well known. He’s currently the lead vocalist for experimental deathcore elites, NARWHAL BLOODBATH, modern metalcore aficionados, DESIGN THE VOID, and most recently, Jesse released a music video for the first single tied to his solo project. The solo project is simply called, ISADORE, while the single is called “Giants Among Us” – a Mass Effect themed, symphonic deathcore track paired with a spectacular CGI laden music video. I’ve been a fan of Jesse’s since NARWHAL BLOODBATH’s very first live show at The Plant in Olean, NY back in 2016. It’s been incredible witnessing how far he’s come as a vocalist, lyricist, and content creator in general over the past six years. And now with the release of ISADORE’s “Giants Among Us”, I had to catch up with him yet again for more perspective on everything he has in the works.
1. Tell us all the details you can about your new music video!
So, recording a live music video as a solo artist is tricky in the metal genre, even with most other solo artists there’s typically a hired band to look the part or crash cuts to one guy playing all the instruments, doing Vocals etc., But I’m trying to run a low rent project with my solo thing so it doesn’t become cumbersome, I’m thoroughly enjoying this, I don’t want to Lose my love for it. We’re doing camera angle trickery with some awesome CGI stuff that fits perfectly with the mass effect theme.
2. What was your thought process behind your artwork, and who is the artist?
So Trevor Dunlap is the artist, and I’ve actually used Trevor before, on some projects that aren’t public yet. And dude ALWAYS knocks it out if the park. He’s done shirts for Narwhal, designs for me, etc. His artwork doesn’t get as much love as it should. I told him I was writing a “mass effect themed” concept album and wanted to incorporate a reaper into the artwork, he then took it 10 steps further and basically recreated the entire closing scene of mass effect 3 in one image, without really having a ton of background info on the series.
3. Now that you’re doing clean vocals, how would you describe your sound to new listeners? What other “lines” are you willing to cross?
So, to be clear, my first two singles are going to have minimal clean singing, they’re pretty heavy, but after that I’ll be incorporating them heavily, but into the question.
My clean vocal style? Poppy, I’m going for a traditionally pop sound. From my perspective I’m still very new to clean Vocals. I’m competent at the moment, but improving quickly. I’m at that phase where every couple months I re-listen to unreleased music and think to myself “I really wish I could redo this now” I have virtually no interest in chasing trends Vocally at this stage in my life. I’m not looking to pursue the higher register “metalcore” sound. I actually tend to gravitate towards a more poppy song structure now. If I could find a way to completely infuse pop choruses with singing and upbeat energy into deathcore I think I would love that. If for no other reason then watching the gatekeeping types call me obscenities online. Those type of things bring me joy.
4. Following that up, can you recall the first time you attempted clean singing on a recording? How did you go about “finding your voice”?
First time I heard my singing voice on a recording? Imagine taking an sm7b with a preamp, setting it next to a literal dumpster fire and then hitting it with auto tune. That’s about the sound I made but we all start somewhere.
So this obsession I now have with clean singing started with Design The Void. In DTV we’ve committed to a more pop song structure, while trying to keep that proggy, djenty sound. A lot of the cadence, and Vocal writing falls on my shoulders. So even before I could sing I would map out these choruses on the recording so that Josh could sing them and make them sound legitimate. So naturally, after doing hundreds of takes, attempting to get your point across on how you think it should sound, you tend to get a little better, more relaxed, more versatility, then I started taking lessons and it was all downhill from there. Back on the catchy chorus thought though…It seems easy on the surface to write catchy choruses, but part of what makes them catchy is trimming the fat on the wording, making the lyrics impactful, something that even out of context is relatable. I realized right away that all choruses are not created equal. A good chorus, even in a song you hate is like an infection, your just cannot get it out of you. It’s in your head, the melodies stick with you for years. Even after you haven’t heard it for years all it takes is to hear it on the radio and it just fits like a glove. You remember every word, then it sticks with you for days after that. So I spend as much time as necessary sitting in front of the chorus, before I start anything else in the song lyrically and I try to make a memory that rolls off of the tongue. The cool thing about doing it in music as heavy as my solo stuff is that it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna happen, so when it does, it’s a pleasant surprise. I would say learning how to write choruses in the end, taught me a lot about songwriting in general. Writing these big elaborate songs with words pulled from a thesaurus doesn’t make you look smart, sometimes it has a place. Overall to me though, when I actually examined what songs I truly enjoyed and remembered it was songs that really had the lyrical fat trimmed, the kind of song that’s just showing you the emotion at hand, not breaking the story around the emotion down into excruciating detail short, punchy lines that stand strong on their own. That was a long winded way to say I’m still learning every day about this stuff, and still enjoying every step of the process.
5. What made you decide to “go solo” in the first place?
There’s a lot of decisions I’d like to make with the direction and sound of my solo music that are unorthodox, and in some cases may not be “marketable” I’m treating it like a sandbox. Right now I wanna do my take on the deathcore thing, in some cases my take on it may be “acceptable” to taste makers, gatekeepers etc. In other cases, I assure you, it will not be. No one realizes how cool a song with the aggression of slaughter to prevail, the breakdowns of Lorna shore and the singing chorus of Ed Sheeran may sound. Who knows, maybe I won’t do it well maybe I will though. I’m sure gonna try either way.
Also, with a solo project I could just drop the deathcore thing tomorrow and write pop punk or emo rap, maybe country music. I do what I want with it, and it’s “success” is gonna be an after thought. I obviously want everything I do to succeed, but with that being said, this project is much more ‘who I am right now, unapologetically”
6. You’ve told me in the past that you have a hard time saying no to people. That said, are you currently involved with any other projects, excluding Narwhal Bloodbath and Design the Void?
I have a band in Pittsburgh that I still have to keep under wraps. We’re finalizing the lineup, recording material etc. That can only be described as very, very angry. I’m very stoked about what we’re doing there, and beyond excited to show people. I’m also collaborating with The Last Reign on an EP with them and their new vocalist Lauren. She’s been a BLAST too write with. We share a very similar writing philosophy and I’m really stoked to finalize this project with them. There will likely be a thematic video to go with as well. I have a bunch of collabs with the homies in my solo stuff too, but until closer to launch I don’t want to drop any names!
7. Following that up, what’s next on the horizon for Narwhal and DTV?
Narwhal is recording, writing and rebuilding currently. We have a lot of plans, but we’re staying social media silent until there’s some news to share.
Design the Void is a bit simpler, playing live isn’t really on our radar at the moment. Focusing on growing the listener base and releasing music is priority #1 right now. We’re releasing a single every 2 months this year and trying to mature our sound in the progress
8. Tell us a little about your “partner in crime” in your solo project. Who is writing/recording the music and how did you meet?
Harry Tadayon. The man is a legend, absolutely love this guy, I’m sure he hates me but I love him! Who else can you message at 2 AM and say “so I have an idea, imagine a song with slaughter to prevail style verses with that fast paced energy, and then add a repeating chorus similar to a Panic! At The Disco song”
On top of that the guy delivers, no matter what I ask I rarely have any revisions, I usually just listen the first time and say “Damn, that’s exactly what I asked for” he’s a king.
Joshua Johnson puts all the finishing touches on at the end with the mixing and mastering aspect of it. Both guys absolutely bring this project to life
9. What is your practice routine like as a vocalist?
Work all day, come home, sit in front of the computer and write all night, I repeat that pattern as much as possible honestly. Sometimes I’ll work on covers etc. to improve my singing. Other than that though, it’s just lots of grinding. I have so many projects I never run out of new things to work on.
10. Plug your online presence!
*Taken from our May 2022 issue: “One Cold Spring in Buffalo”
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