It’s been three years since Trip-Hop/R&B wonder Iskwé released her self-titled debut album, but with time comes the fine-tuning of artistic integrity – now she’s ready to share a stronger sound. Iskwé sat down with RPM to talk about her new fall album The Fight Within, and how collaboration has helped her grow as an artist.
It’s been awhile since you released a full-length album. What have you been up to over the past three years?
I’ve been touring, I’ve been doing other music intensive programs and things like that. I got to work with The Darcys on “Nobody Knows,” which is a song that will be on this album but was released as a single independently. I’m on tour right now.
When did you start writing for The Fight Within?
I started writing this one right away after I released my first album, because that one actually took me eight years to do. It was my baby, my first piece that I really put out there and allowed myself to put time in because I wanted to learn different parts of the music industry and find my place within my artistry. When I started off it was like I had no real direction in terms of what my creative processes were to do my best, so when I released it, I had been sitting on it for so long that I was ready to start making new stuff. I had found more comfort in my own sound. I started writing right away, I went to the Banff Centre for the Arts and got a two-month residency. A lot of the songs that are going to be on this next album came from my time there, and I continued writing after too.
You’ve had other artists mentor you to learn more about the industry and making your own sound. Tell us about how important collaborating is to you.
I really enjoy collaborating because it pushes you to new heights. For instance, on “Nobody Knows,” that song started off in a completely different direction, but the guys from The Darcys really pushed me to kind of let loose and let go on it, and that’s what got the strength in my vocals out. I credit them in encouraging me to push through my mental blocks because on my last album, I wasn’t singing like that. I didn’t have that level of power. I always had it in me but I didn’t know how to channel it. So collaborations are awesome because they can bring out new parts of you, but at the same time you’re also starting to find more strength in your own thoughts and sound. It’s good to have access to be able to do that on your own, and it’s good to accept collaborations where you’re putting out new stuff because of inspiration from somebody else. It’s more things that you never realized you could do.
STREAM: Iskwé “Nobody Knows” Ft. The Darcys
Speaking of collaborations, tell us about who you worked with on The Fight Within.
I worked with a producer, Keo from Montreal, on a couple songs and plan to work on a couple of new things starting this fall. He’s the one I worked with on my latest single [Sometimes] on the album version he has a verse in the song. He directed the video that we released. It actually wasn’t filmed together! We filmed videos of ourselves on different days and just edited it. I had nothing to do with it (laughs).
How has your sound evolved since your first album?
I’ve started taking on a bigger role on the production side of it. My role isn’t just limited to lyrics and melody anymore. I’ve fully produced the intro on the album, and then had a hand in production on quite a few of the other ones. I’m way more hands-on in it now, which feels nice because it’s just a more complete way of representing what I’m hearing in my head. I’m feeling well-versed in being able to get that out, whereas before I had to sit there and use really flowery words and trying to explain what I was feeling. Now I can do it all myself!
WATCH: Iskwé “Sometimes”
Check out Iskwé’s remaining summer tour dates below:
August 11 Black Pirates Club, Thunder Bay ON
August 13 Up Here Festival, Sudbury ON
August 23 The Baltimore, Hamilton ON
August 26 The Good Will, Winnipeg MB
August 31 Broken City, Calgary AB
September 3/4 Sunshine Music Fest, Powell River BC
September 15 The Rivoli, Toronto ON