Interviewing ISSA for the second time was a lot of fun. We talked for damn near an hour, and she’s such a super-sweetheart that I could have done two more. New album Run with the Pack was a week away from release via Frontiers Music so she was obviously excited about it, and rightfully so. She’s also had a baby boy, Sebastian, since we last spoke. We talked about everything: motherhood, the new album writing process, and so much more, some of it that’s none of your business and was left out of this one. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the piece. Check it:
Amps: So Crossfire was one of my absolute favorite records of 2015. And “Crossfire” the song kicks off so many of my mixes and playlists three years later!
ISSA: Yeah, it’s a great feel-good album. All the songs were written by Tom and James Martin (VEGA), the home team. This one it’s a bit darker.
Amps: So who did the writing on this one?
ISSA: Well, I’ll tell you a story. Obviously when Frontiers got in touch I’d just had Sebastian, and I was a bit like, “I don’t think I can commit to doing an album now.” I’d just had the baby and things were really new for me. Plus, I just didn’t know if I was ready to do an album, you know? They just said, “Take your time and don’t worry about it.”
And when we decided we were gonna work with Alessandro Del Vecchio that was great, because we know how we work. Del Vecchio had a lot of songs written and he came up with a lot of great suggestions. One of them was “Run With the Pack.” He did the music, sent it to me and said, “Can you sing over this?” And that’s kind of how “Sacrifice Me” came along. I was really inspired by Game of Thrones, and all the other songs were written by Del Vecchio, and we got Sören Kronqvist, who was writing for me on my first album Sign of Angels, so I know him well now. He always seems to write darker songs and when I get the demos I’m like, “Oh, I dunno if this will really suit me.” And then after I’ve really heard the song, it just really comes out great. It’s really, really strange but that always happens. So he’s great to have on the team.
We also had Pete Godfrey (vocalist) from BLOOD RED SAINTS, and he’s had a few songs written. “How Long” was written by Bob Mitchell, who wrote for CHEAP TRICK, and Glen Ballard was involved with this one, too. It’s been quite the bunch of people on this one. The thing is, James (Martin, VEGA, and ISSA’S husband) has been working with Bob, writing a few songs together, and he sent some songs over to James, and James was just like, “These have to go to ISSA! Can we please use these songs?” And that’s how we got “How Long” and “Everything to Me”. I know that Bob is just amazing and he comes up with some really cool stuff. Do you like the album?
Amps: I really do! I’ve had it on REPEAT this morning while cleaning the kitchen and flipping laundry. I actually want to talk about a couple of songs. In our last interview you said you wanted to do some darker songs for the next record. I’m gonna be honest here…Mission Accomplished. “Am I Losing You” is a great song, but it’s not exactly a happy tune!
ISSA: (Laughs) oh no, listen. I just wanted to have a little bit of an edgier feel. So this is where we ended up. I know we have some ballads on the album, but you know I just think we’ve got a good mix of the dark sound with heavy guitars as well as some lighter stuff, and that’s what I wanted to do.
Amps: You mentioned that you went a little darker on this record. However, the anthems are still there. Del Vecchio, that guy just lives, breathes, and eats hooks. “Run With the Pack” is one. “Come Back Again” is another, and I REALLY loved the slow build up of closer “Everything to Me.”
ISSA: “Everything to Me” is such a magical song that when I heard it I said to Bob, “Can I have it? I need it!”
Amps: At the same time, “How Long” really tugs at the heartstrings.
ISSA: I’m really looking forward to doing this song live. It’s such a great song, honestly.
Amps: The album goes in awful quick. And that makes you want to hit it again, you know?
ISSA: I think the songs are great, and we had a lot of discussions over which ones to do a video for. So at the end I said, “You guys have to pick, because I can’t pick one over the others.” But I think I just wanted something really rockish for this album, and not one that keeps going on and on for 75 minutes.
Amps: I don’t love the fact that you’re not touring the U.S., you know that, right?
ISSA: Oh, I’d love to, believe me! Someone’s just gotta invite me and I’ll be there.
Amps: You have a history of awesome duets. In 2016 you did “The Perfect Crime” with Ted Poley, which I loved, and on your new album you team up with Deen Castronovo for “Sacrifice Me.” Tell me about those.
ISSA: “The Perfect Crime” was written by Tom and James and I’ve known Ted for years. And he was like, “Oh, you have to do a duet with me on my new album!” So he sent the song over, I recorded myself, and it came together. It’s crazy how you look at Ted Poley, you watched him on MTV and suddenly you’re doing a duet with him? I feel incredibly lucky. I’ve done duets with some amazing people. The Deen Castronovo duet was interesting because Del Vecchio sent me a track and said, “Can you write something to this?” and I went up to my bedroom and did my own vocals and sent it back to him.
He happened to be working with Deen at the time, who was in the studio, and Deen goes, “I love this, dude.” Then he sent me a funny video saying, “I put some vocals on this song and I hope you like it.” And that was such a cool surprise, and I think it turned out really well. It wasn’t meant as a duet to begin with, but it turned out amazing. And I would love to meet him in person one day. He seems like a really nice and funny guy.
Amps: He’s such an amazing vocalist and an awesome drummer!
ISSA: Oh yeah, he really is! He’s a multi-talent, isn’t he?
Amps: What are you listening to right now?
ISSA: (Laughs) my songs for Frontiers Fest! But aside from that a lot of DEF LEPPARD, BRYAN ADAMS, and BLONDIE. A lot of synth-based music, too, like M83’s song “Midnight City.”
Amps: You mentioned Game of Thrones earlier. What the fuck is this that we have to wait till 2019 for this final season?!? And who would you like to see ascend the throne?
ISSA: I don’t know what they’re doing, honestly. We’re hooked on it. I can’t remember any TV show being this good! That’s why with “Sacrifice Me” I had this whole medieval theme in my head, you know? I’m hoping one day they give me a call to use the song (laughs)! And I want Khaleesi, Daenerys to win it all!!
Amps: What would you hope people take away from this album?
ISSA: I hope they just take away some good music. I hope they’ll play it again. For me, I kind of want people to appreciate the music more than me personally. I just want them to see a more mature side of me. And that there’s more to me than just a blonde singer.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the ISSA fans all over the world?
ISSA: I could not do this music without all of you. There are so many amazing people that support this kind of music and me. They listen to our music, and it’s very hard to be an artist in this internet age, because we don’t make a lot of money. Singers and writers, we do this as our passion. Sometimes people forget that. Thank you to EVERYBODY who buys our albums and supports the scene.
Hot damn, I really love ISSA’s music, but I also dig her as a person. She’s a wonderful woman, and Mom to a beautiful boy, AAAAAND…she just dropped one hell of a new album on our heads. Guys, seriously, go get Run With the Pack now. ‘Cuz I guarantee whatever happens, your toes are still tappin’…Now let’s get her over here on U.S. soil for a tour!!