My parents never forced me to make music and were always super supportive. My mom’s family is a singing family and she’s a jazz singer who’s been playing all my life. Growing up, we had a family piano and guitar at home and a big basket of toy instruments – those were the toys I wanted to play with.
In the babysitting co-op I grew up in, I was also always surrounded by other musicians and instruments. I would hang out with my parents’ peers and, if there was an instrument, I would rather play music than hang out with kids my age. By the time I was five, I had saved up $99 in Christmas, birthday, and lemonade stand money and went to the Ward-Brodt Music Mall to buy my first electric guitar.
The babysitting co-op had several musicians, and they formed a band that played children’s music called the Madgadders. I started playing with the band around the age of 5 and continued until the Madgadders stopped playing when I was in my late teens. They were setting things up so all the kids could play shakers or something, but I was still serious about my role in the band. Once I got my electric guitar, I started learning to play the guitar parts.
Playing music with a group of people and starting to understand group dynamics has been a big part of my musical development. From an early age, I was taught to work the microphone. The adults said, “Isaac, pretend the microphone is an ice cream cone — you have to eat the ice cream cone!”
Later, a group of the same people formed a disco group called VO5. When I was about 13, VO5 started bringing me in when they needed a guitar subwoofer. That’s when I really started to learn more about how to act on stage. Playing music with a group of people is something I did from an early age.
I formed the group Disk in 2014 with my childhood friend Raina Bock when she was 14 and I was 15. More recently we signed to Saddle Creek Records, toured the country and just finished recording our second album.
Spending time together and having fun is so important to making great music. There are stakes that other people have in the music and the legal and personal responsibilities of being in the band, but you need to have fun and just enjoy being with each other to have a healthy and healthy musical life. good.
Music is many things to me. It’s about having a community; it can also be about creating something, sometimes just for yourself. Personally, this is the thing that gives me the most happiness. Music has been my life and it’s the only thing I’ve really thought about besides developing personal relationships and surviving.
I started writing songs when I was little, but became much more serious as a teenager. I’ve always been a driven songwriter, it’s a really satisfying thing for me to be able to create a song that I personally love.
When I was in high school, and I still do, I would record something, drive around, and listen to it on repeat just to revel in the emotions of what I had done.
Now what usually happens when I write a song is that it comes back to me in separate parts. So, I’ll have a riff that I write or a chord progression and I’ll record it in my voice memos. When I have lyric ideas, I write them down or make a voice memo. And if everything goes well, I’ll work on the chords or the riff, and then I’ll think, “This reminds me of this concept that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ll take a chord progression that I like and merge it with the notes from my phone and sometimes it’s a song.
Last year during the pandemic I did a song called “It’s a Beautiful Day” and it’s kind of a Beatles-y song, kinda cheesy about how it’s a beautiful day outside . I was writing it to be a commercial song. Writing something like this is pretty easy for me. Once I understood the concept and was like, “Okay. Well, I let go of my own preconceptions of what Isaac’s songs are supposed to be. And I just write this silly song and do this. And it’s really nice. It is a satisfying experience.
As a songwriter, I like to write about what’s going on in my life. This can be a good coping mechanism. There’s a song I wrote called “Communication”. The whole concept of the song is in the first line of the chorus, “And again, communication takes me further.” This song came from a place of frustration and expressed the challenges of getting meaning across when talking to people. You know, modern communication and the internet are supposed to bring us closer by making it easier to communicate, but in reality, it has become more difficult. With music, however, there is something ingrained and something that can bring people together.
Once the pandemic hit, we had to cancel the US and European tours that Disq had planned to promote our album release. Sometimes during the pandemic, people would ask me, “So, do you write a lot? And it’s like, “Well, no. Are you doing a lot of creative and fun things right now? I don’t think so. There’s still a lot of pandemics going on right now, but as I’m personally coming out of a lull of pandemic depression, I find that I’m definitely more inspired now than I’ve been in the last couple of years because I’m still doing stuff and it’s not even that I’m doing that many things, but I’ve it just feels like my life is moving on again. I started playing in a bluegrass jam. I don’t want to do that instead of playing indie rock, it’s the live music scene that I love. C It’s super fun to perform my own song and hear people in the audience singing along to the lyrics. It’s crazy and I love it. But the only thing about it is that it doesn’t really seem focused on the Not that I need everything in my life to be community oriented, but playing in the bluegrass jam really helped me. brought a lot of joy.
When I play a gig with Disq, I have to give it my all all the time. And the rest of the group too. And we are delighted. But it’s good to make bluegrass music with people and the stakes aren’t so high, to not invest in perfecting it before playing. I love being with people whose purpose is to have fun, play good music and have a good time. So that was a huge thing for me last year.
When I was younger, I thought the logical conclusion to being a musician was to be famous. While it’s great to have tons of people loving my music and having an easier time supporting themselves, there are also things that now feel so awful about being famous. There are many people who live on music healthily and happily all their lives and they are not famous. I’ve learned that what’s important to me is having the ability to create the music I want and having a good community around me. I realize that’s a big luxury, but on a basic human level, there’s just something about being able to contribute to the community, which makes the whole thing a little better.
This is an edited version of the Isaac deBroux-Slone story, which was produced by Adam Blackbourn as part of the Wisconsin Humanities Storytelling Project, I love Wisconsin. You can find the full story and other stories in this series about musicians at lovewi.com.