Isaac Dunbar graces us with spiritual pop life hacks on ‘Banish The Banshee’

·5-min read
Isaac Dunbar
Isaac Dunbar

Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.

When thinking about the stacked lineup of Gen-Z musical talent that’s available to us, Isaac Dunbar readily jumps to mind. He’s a bona fide superstar on the rise, and we’d surely bet “Money On That.”

The 19-year-old singer-songwriter-producer has been steadily working his way up the popsphere for nearly a decade now. At just 9 years old, the Massachusetts-born talent taught himself how to produce music by following YouTube tutorials aiming to create beats like Lady Gaga’s electro-pop heavy ARTPOP.

Since releasing his self-produced debut EP balloons don’t float here in 2019, he’s managed to score a major record deal with RCA Records and released two critically acclaimed genre-bending EPs, isaac’s insects and evil twin within a year of one other.

One thing Isaac Dunbar will continue to do is create “more music, always!” he told In The Know — and we’re very thankful for it!

During the pandemic, Isaac gained a social spike with TikTok-trending tracks like the menacing “Onion Boy” and addictively catchy “Fan Behavior,” and he hasn’t stopped creating since.

At the end of last month, Isaac returned with his new EP, Banish The Banshee, an assured, immediately eclectic, spirited and endlessly replay-friendly spiritual explosion of pop that comes packed with some noteworthy life hacks in song form.

Credit: RCA Records
Credit: RCA Records

“I started the writing process in June 2021, almost a year ago,” Isaac told In The Know of the project. “‘Money On That’ was the first song I made for the record, and I made it shortly after I moved to New York on my 18th birthday, summer 2021. I left Massachusetts for the first time, by myself, because I needed a change from my hometown. I guess an underlying source of inspiration for me with this project was that sense of freedom I felt in the city.”

Isaac credits New York City as the main driving source for the new music and the new alter ego it introduces: Banshee, who narrates the stories being told throughout the EP.

“The concept of Banshee wasn’t created until the end of 2021,” Isaac said. “I had this title in the back of my brain, but I was too scared to tell anyone! I’d imagined they would hear the title Banish The Banshee and think it was too weird! But nonetheless, it ended up becoming just that I questioned myself and asked myself why this title just popped up in my head. But I’ll let you listen to the song to understand why it’s called Banish The Banshee! Hahahahaaa.”

In the EP, Banshee, aka Isaac, takes us on a true pop ride, tackling various themes of delusion, self-love, unrequited love, family relationships and more, all while giving us a sense of lessons learned throughout the process.

“The whole EP is narrated by my alter ego,” Isaac told In The Know. “Each song are parables disguised as pop songs!”

There are seven parables:

  1. “Sunburn” – Parable 1: “You have to be your own self-sustaining source of validation and healing, not anyone else.”

  2. “Bleach” – Parable 2: “Sometimes, you’re wrong.”

  3. “Gummy” – Parable 3: “Always express yourself. Your joy and your rage. If not, you will express the wrong emotions at the wrong time”

  4. “Money On That” – Parable 4: “Sex is okay and normal and also you can have sex with any gender!”

  5. “Tainted Love” – Parable 5: “Build a wall so nobody can come in. Just kidding.”

  6. “Fool’s Paradise” – Parable 6: “A boy will never be my God”

  7. “Banish The Banshee” – Parable 7: “If you are a black sheep, stay black”

And so, in a lot of ways, what Isaac has done here with Banish The Banshee is given us a concept record with an alter ego that has allowed him to share even more of himself with us with an added “wink wink” that essentially says, quite joyfully: “I’m having a lot of fun here!”

This is so evidently clear on songs like the chant-ready opener “Sunburn,” the anthemic lead single “Bleach,” the sexy head-banger “Gummy” and the brooding power ballad “Fool’s Paradise,” which is arguably one of his best vocal performances yet.

From start to finish we’re treated to a collection of smartly crafted pop with a healthy dose of humor that refuses to be just any one thing. It’s an EP that looks inward and outward and wears as many hats as it wants to. Or, in Isaac’s case, it wears a little something new and a little something borrowed.

“Visually, and fashion-wise, I’ve been really into older things,” Isaac told In The Know about the visual inspiration behind the EP and Banshee. “I draw a lot of influence from the ’70s – ’90s, but also the current era. Moving to New York definitely inspired me in all aspects. I befriended cool people who wear cool clothes and listen to cool music! I love to pick and choose sounds from the past and blend them with the future. Also, I tapped into more of my theatrics and humor in this one. The world needs a laugh right now!”

“I hope fans get a better sense of who I am and where I come from, and in that, I want them to see themselves in me!,” Isaac concluded. “In shorter words… I hope the music really connects with people.”

Based on the goods Isaac Dunbar has graced us with here on Banish the Banshee, those hopes are for sure the reality. In fact, we don’t want this Banshee to go anywhere. Bring back the Banshee!

Isaac Dunbar’s brand new EP, Banish The Banshee, is available everywhere now!

If you enjoyed this story, check out Jon Ali’s spotlight on queer heartthrob Mike Taveira!

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