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Interview with Greta Isaac

(December 01, 2012)

Interview with Greta Isaac

Greta Isaac

When Greta Isaac leaves school this summer she is planning to join the family business. "
I don’t like to think that my family is any different from any other family." she says, "You know, they just do their job … and by chance, that happens to be in front of an audience, on stage … Music makes everyone in our family happy." Her dad, Myfyr Isaac, an "awesome guitarist", plays bluesy rock, and her mum, the renowned Welsh singer-songwriter Caryl Parry Jones are "really supportive". It seems inevitable that in this environment, she would take to the stage sooner or later.

As a friend - who has been to the same parties, had the same drunken mishaps, in the same terraced houses - I should be able to claim that I always knew that the voice I had heard belting out the UK Top 40 would gain this much recognition. But in truth, I had no idea. I first heard one of her songs, 'My Book', on Myspace (which for a small period topped the unsigned chart). From there she progressed to performing in her kitchen on YouTube (accompanied by her elder sister Miriam, also a talented singer).

Greta Isaac Greta Isaac

Since then, things have moved on quite a bit, "I always did open mics, and always just played wherever people would let me play." This mind-set has allowed Greta to progress rapidly in the past year or so. Going from the likes of Clwb Ifor Bach and 10 feet tall to performing at the Sŵn Festival, Cardiff, two years running. John Rostron, co-organiser of the Sŵn Festival, saw her gig in 2011, and signed her up for Green Man 2012, Glanusk, where she was put on the same line-up as Van Morrison. Local band The People The Poet asked her to perform with them at Latitude Festival, Suffolk, this year, for which she will be ‘forever grateful'.

Where most teenagers would have to make do with ripped out NME posters, Greta's blu-tac idols seem to be gradually coming to life. During her visit to Latitude, she was allowed backstage to listen to one of the definitive influences of her childhood. "Rufus Wainwright is wicked; every song he's ever written is wicked … I grew up listening to this guy and he was just there, right in front of me! It was bizarre, but it was cool." she giggles. The equally small, quirky girl with an acoustic guitar, Lucy Rose, also mentioned her recently at a gig Greta went along to as a fan. Only last week she was doing a session on Nation Radio alongside Jake Bugg, whose angst and honesty helped place him at No.1 in the UK album charts. So, is folk breaking back into the mainstream? If so, you can expect to see a lot more of Greta.

Greta Isaac - Green man Festival 2012Greta Isaac performing at the Green Man Festival, Glanusk, 2012
(Image © Kait Mordey)

The ingredients for a folk artist are all here: a voice; six steel strings; and a story to tell. With the body of her guitar nearly as big as her, her frame hardly equates to her extensive vocal range. It is quite hard to make any direct comparisons, but Greta's fragile soprano has a real bittersweet, Joni Mitchel-esque, melancholic twang. When I asked her where this melancholy had come from, she confessed, "I never write about myself, I find myself very boring … I write mainly about things that have happened to my friends. I try to avoid literal lyrics, so that people can add their own meaning."


Although she considers the Welsh language to be "poetically lovely", Greta has chosen to write her songs in English, reaching out to a wider audience. I wondered how one of the most renowned, if not the most renowned, Welsh 'pop' artist would feel about this. Mrs Parry Jones  (who was also a judge on Wawffactor, S4C's take on Pop Idol, the show that helped bring Duffy to a wider audience) has told Greta "If you can’t be happy doing what you’re doing, then there’s no point in doing it."

So, when can we expect to hear her first release? Well, not for some time, it seems. "I'm not planning on releasing anything at the moment. I don't want to force anything massive. I'm just enjoying it." One of her prime philosophies may be not to take herself too seriously. But, I think she's going places.

Ben Palit, 1 December 2012

Greta can be found on:

Facebook: Greta Isaac
Sound cloud:   greta.isaac




© 2012 Caregos Cyf. | Hawlfraint - All rights reserved


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