I grew up in a pan-Africanist house listening to Arabic and African music, and naturally music from the West Indies… As a result, my music is as different as my upbringing; it’s unique and I’ll continue to make music that can’t fit into a box because I can’t fit into a box. –Empire Isis
Empire Isis is a Canadian self-proclaimed gangtress of British and Moroccan descent. Truly a woman of the world, she grew up across the globe in places such as Canada, the UK and Morocco. This cultural diversity is apparent in her music, branded as World Pop, but of course très á la Isis.
An avid traveler, at the age of 16, she bicycled through 7 countries from Panama to Mexico picking up the pulsing rhythms of Central America. She also got further acquainted with Dancehall and Reggae vibes while filming a documentary about an isolated group of strict Rastafarians, the Bobo Shanti of Jamaica. Fire ignited, she discovered her true calling and sought out to make conscious urban music. And that, she did.
She received 11 Award Nominations for her debut LP “Sound Trumpets” in 2008, several accolades such as Best New International Artist of Canada at the SOBA awards, Best International Artist at 2008’s Underground Urban Music Awards in NYC among others, and her songs have been featured on various shows such as MTV’s The Hills. Her sophomore album “Brand New Style”, released in January 2009 and recorded between Montreal, Kingston, Tel Aviv and New York, could be described as feel good, with deep, oftentimes militant messages, which in all her musical prowess, do not weigh down the tracks. Impassioned, energetic and simply genuine, Empire Isis’ brand new style is here to stay.
Below: Empire ISIS – Get Up On It featured on MTV’s The Hills:
More, including a Q&A with Empire Isis, after the jump!
Below is a feature on Empire Isis that appeared on CTV (Canadian Television):
Below, M.I.S.S. Crew asked, Empire Isis answered:
1. What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?
Elen Sirleaf Jonhson, Michele Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Mother Theresa, Joan of Ark, Madonna, Missy Eliot, Gloria Steinem…
2. How did you get your start?
Everything in my life gets revealed to me in dreams or visions, I began the Empire ISIS journey in 2002 after bicycling through Central America and getting the message that this is what I needed to be doing with my life. That I was supposed to communicate to the masses and entertain them.
3. What’s your favorite song that you’ve written and/or performed?
Either Participate or Wont Surrender because they are really intense tunes to perform, you have to give 1000% when singing them as they have no gaps or pauses till the end so breath control is very important. The authenticity comes from the energy behind the words and the message….which I stand by with my whole soul.
4. Who would you like to make music with?
Wow If only Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Miriam Makeba and Beethoven could be resurrected! In the realm of the living id say Missy, Madonna, Gwen, Jean Grey, Amy Winehouse, Sade, Red Hot Chili Peppers, TI, Capleton, Manu Chao, Busy Signal, Kanye, Game and Barrington Levy
5. What part of songwriting/performing is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?
I love love love songwriting, it is absolutly my favorite part of the creative process. Many people find it hard to take criticisms while writing, but I enjoy it as if l was diving into the unknown without expectations or fear. The annoying part of performing is when you dont have the right equipment or somebody tries to jack your money. Depending what type of tour or gig you will always have unpredicted variables like this, so you have to learn to shadowbox these situations.
6. What genre would you categorize your music in?
I call my music WORLD POP, and this “genre” is mashup so you cant fully categorize it. I make music for the people, el pueblo, le peuple…that’s what it is!
7. How important is fashion to you?
I like fashion and representing for Apple Bottoms brand and all the designers who give or lend me stuff. But before anything what I stand for is defending your dreams. When I first came to New York from Latin America I owned pretty much nothing, but because of my crew and management in NYC I got to be at a lot of photoshoots, designer showrooms and fashion weeks. So it kind of crept in to my life and I just have fun with it.
8. What has been your favorite collaboration?
I love making music with my two main producers Overstand and Prayon. After many years now I feel like we are finally approaching the sound I desire. Asides from that I have combinations with Bushman, Halfpint, SIzzla and Turbulence…looking forward to more.
9. Describe the ideal atmosphere for song writing?
By myself with no one harassing me! Sometimes you get a great opportunity to write a tune about a situation that is unfolding right in front of you, which was the case with “Four in the Morning” on my new album Brand New Style. Those moments are special in the writing process.
10. Upcoming plans/goals/aspirations?
This year one of my priorities is to hit up the 5 continents. So far this year ive been to nuff places in Canada the US and Venezuela, but in July we go to Europe and then Africa in August. Ive also heard whispers of Asia in September, I tell myself that if I do reach Asia in September than I would have to make a move somehow to Australia in October for this big festival that I was invited to. In November and December we are planning a tour in Venezuela and Colombia. This is my 2009 tentative touring plan, this doesn’t include my other businesses, spiritual or humanitarian ambitions but that is a whole other interview
11. What are your favorite topics to write about?
Mission, purpose, the world, energy, dancing, militant, defending your program and having a good time are my favorite topics I would say.
12. What is your definition of the term gangstress?
A new millenium woman who strives and survives for a better life. It is the duality to being an Empress which is your royal side while Gangstress is your street side. Sending a shoutout to the massive, more love more powers!
“Brand New Style”—the new album by EMPIRE ISIS on Monumental Records—is out now!
Check it her out on Myspace: www.myspace.com/empireisis
For more music and videos, check out: Empire Isis on YouTube
- Women Making History: Shauna Barbosa
- Women Making History: Gala Darling
- Blogger PROJECT: Canada Goose
- Women Making History: Suze Yalof Schwartz
- Women Making History: Lesley Arfin