Meet Dreamer Isioma, the nonbinary Nigerian-American singer who doesn't want to fit into any of your boxes
- Dreamer Isioma released their intoxicating sophomore album, "Princess Forever," in April.
- Insider spoke to Isioma about the project, their influences, and their unique sound.
Dreamer Isioma doesn't want themselves, nor their fans, to be put in a box.
"I just want people to know that they can be whoever they want and whatever they want," the Nigerian-American singer, who identifies as nonbinary, told Insider.
That message is explored heavily on their intoxicating sophomore album, "Princess Forever," which was released in April.
The project — which incorporates elements of psychedelic rock, funk, afrobeats, and R&B — explores themes of love, identity, and self-acceptance through the atmospheric adventures of an alter-ego, the galactic leader Princess Forever.
"Running at the speed of light backwards / Hoping I can spend more time with you / I've seen enough mortal life that after I would like to go somewhere that's new," Isioma sings on the rousing "Love & Rage."
On the trippy "Z's Lullaby," they sing: "Time to turn the page a new chapter / Open the shades and take a hit / Through the chaos there is temporary bliss / Been feeling like I'm a solar eclipse."
Insider recently sat down with Isioma to speak about their new album, their influences, and their unique sound, which was birthed in the Catholic church and finetuned in the streets of Chicago and London.
You have such an eclectic sound. Where does it all come from?
Music's just always been a huge part of my life. My family really pushed me to tap into music. I started taking piano lessons and violin lessons when I was 3.
My realm as a youngster with music was super small. It was Christian music and classical music and some afrobeats too. And when I say afrobeats, I mean people from the seventies like Fella Kuti vibes. Then, when I grew older, I got really into a mesh of rock music, like metal music, but also drill, more specifically Chicago drill music, and rap music.
From there, I just started tapping around with my own sound, trying to sing and use shitty autotune at first, and it's ended up developing to what we have today.
Who, or what, would you say is your biggest musical influence?
I'd have to say myself because, at the end of the day, I'm just like making things that I enjoy. Of course, other people's influences come to me, but it's always me at the foundation. So yeah, I don't know. I don't know who my favorite person is besides myself. That's such a Leo answer, but that's all I got.
Leo, as in the star sign?
Are you a believer in horoscopes and such then?
I think it's cool and I think it's nice for conversation. Scientifically speaking, though, it's all cap.
Listening to "Princess Forever," I felt a bit like I was on a journey through space, especially on "Technicolor Lover."
That's the vibes I was going for. I wanna take people to a new world with my music for sure. That song specifically, I made that with my homey, Josiah. We thrifted this really old synth and started playing around with it and it made this super weird sound, and I was just obsessed with it. So I just put it all over the song.
I really like science. I really like just learning about astrology and physics. That was definitely the vibe for this album.
What inspired you to come up with the character Princess Forever?
When the pandemic was dwindling down and you could go out more, I was starting to feel the surrealism of being back outside, which then led me down the path of the surrealism of just being an African in America in this day and age, and what it's like being a queer person and all that type of shit.
It just led me down that path, and it just made me feel like I was in my... I was an alien type shit. So I guess that's where like the idea of space comes from and wanting to travel and discover new things. A place where you can be yourself with other people who feel the same way.
You mentioned your experiences as a queer person served as inspiration...
When I was making this album, I was coming into a very transitional period in my life. I had essentially just fully transitioned, like changed my name, got surgery. Physically, I feel very different than how I once was, which is a good thing. I feel a lot more confident.
But with that, I had to also really work on changing my mindset, focusing on what femininity is to me now as a new changed person type shit, and accepting that femininity and embracing it and exploring it.
This is a very femme album. It's so much about love. It's very pink. It's very happy. That was definitely a huge inspiration, me transitioning, and transitioning into who I really am.
You're now taking the album on tour. How do you plan on portraying its story on stage?
The set design is gonna be sick as fuck. The lighting is gonna be sick. The outfits, with me and the band, everything is gonna be very theatrical. It's gonna be really cool.
I want people to feel like they're at a show, because I feel like a lot of times, a lot of new artists aren't putting on shows — they're just pulling up singing, and then dipping. I'm like, 'No.' Motherfuckers spent maybe their whole check, maybe half their check, to see their favorite artists. So I really want to give them the best show that I can provide.
Lastly, if you could work with one artist you haven't already, who would it be and why?
I always tell people that I really want a Tyler, the Creator beat. Him or Steve Lacy. Those are my favorites. When I was like 10 years old, I was terrified of Tyler — literally scared. Which is so funny 'cause now I literally have his face on my fucking kitchen wall.
Catch Dreamer Isioma on tour across North America now. Tickets and information can be found here.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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