Sign Up – EP is due August 16th on Universal Music
Like many of us, rising Canadian artist Isaiah Steinberg aka BAD CHILD is seeking redemption, understanding, and growth. A childhood marred by the unfortunate and untimely passing of his mother would eventually lead Steinberg toward a constructive creative outlet – effectively saving the 22-year-old from the downward and destructive path he found himself in during his formative years.
Now, years later, the young multi-instrumentalist has a stronger outlook on life, his trajectory, and by all means, things are definitely looking up. Creating a sound filled with pensive tension, howling vocals, and a crushing blend of R&B, alternative hip-hop, and soulful rock – BAD CHILD is setting his path ablaze and you won’t want to miss the ride.
We caught up with BAD CHILD following his explosive set at Lollapalooza to discuss his latest single, “Desert Island Lover,” his debut EP, Sign Up – due on Universal Music next week – and his major debut album, Free Trial, which the artist is promising will move the needle and conversation beyond currently conceivable bounds. Read on below for the full scoop.
We’re here at Lollapalooza – one of many festivals you’ll play this year. How does it feel to be reaching this point in your career ahead of your first full-length release?
BC: It feels really exciting – I’ve spent so much time with my team laying the proper groundwork so it almost feels like it’s been by design. I’ve always been a fan of releasing less music and making sure each release is impactful… so, getting to this festival, it seems so natural, man. I wanted to focus on the online release of the music, connecting with a lot of listeners, and it’s been working, thankfully. The shows are growing and really exciting.
The interest in your music started very early on. How have you balanced external expectations with the need to be authentic in your sound?
BC: I don’t make music for anyone but myself. That’s always been my rule. When I look at my favorite artists, their music is always about their own struggles. I feel like that’s so much more valid and real because you get to see through the brain of someone else. That’s so beautiful. For me, at least, I’ve made that my rule — I’m always going to speak about my own issues or interests. Anything outside of that, I can’t sing it if it doesn’t feel candid.
I understand you started writing music for therapeutic release. How did it all first get started?
BC: When my mother passed away, I ended up in a really bad situation. I was on drugs, not in a clear mental space, and I was going down a really dark tunnel. The only thing I really seemed to care about was music and photojournalism. So, I thought I would be a photojournalist and even had my forms filled out to go to university for it. But, I’ve also always done music and I’ve been producing since I was 9. I made my first song right around the time of university and it was “Bad Child.”
It’s also the first one I ever sang on — I didn’t even know I could sing. I made that about my mother and how fleeting life can be. I felt this grand power in the topics. I felt better in my soul and like I didn’t need to turn to these negative influences in my life. I started cutting out the negative people in my life and only surrounding myself with people interested in music and art. It ended up being about 90% of friends, just had to tell them to take a hike.
You just released your new single, “Desert Island Lover.” Can you run us through the micro-narrative of the track?
I always think of that desert island game where you pick what you’d bring with you. In my head, I thought, wouldn’t it suck if you were stuck with someone you despised? The more I thought about it, the more I thought about how isolating a particular relationship was in my life and the impact it had on me. I thought, well, I’m stuck with this person, so I guess I’ll just become subdued, wallow, and sulk in that cycle. It centered around that idea but I wanted it to sound laissez-faire and fun but with a dark undertone.
Your debut EP, Sign Up, is due on August 16th. What was the most rewarding part of this creative process?
I think the most rewarding part was emotional since I only do this stuff to heal myself and everything I’ve gone through. I was at a point where I never thought I would be okay. I contemplated suicide — I was low, low. When this all started going well and the music was speaking from my soul and people started responding to it, reaching out to tell me it was helping them. I feel like it gave me a new lease on life and made me feel like I had a greater purpose to pursue this above my own seeking. I have to do this for myself and the people that have told me they depend on it. It’s a really reassuring feeling.
Is there anything specific you’re hoping listeners will draw from the new EP?
The ultimate narrative of the project is about how people use each other and how the modern human relationship depends on commodity and what another person can give to you. A lot of it came from me using Tinder and I had this realization while swiping on people’s pictures, I thought to myself, damn – this is a human being and I know nothing about them, I just see their face and I’m deciding what? I started digging in my head and it’s clear people aren’t looking for marriage on that sort of thing.
That sort of commodification of human beings perforates into every aspect now and I think that’s a new thing. Now, with the technological age, it’s like something I feel people should be cognitive of. It’s not telling people what to do but it’s asking questions and inviting you to think.
You sprinkle in a few interesting samples throughout – were they chosen for any specific reason?
All of the samples I have on the project are actually really personal to me. On “Pretty Girls,” there’s a sample in the latter half of the song that says, “we thought we could find an easier, softer way, but we could not.” That’s actually an excerpt from an Alcoholics Anonymous book but it’s something I don’t think the average listener would clue in on. That pertains to my mother’s alcoholism and the pain that brought my family. It’s things like those that I chose to put in there just for me, to remind me of who I am. In the context of the song, I think it makes sense.
These releases and your EP are all leading to a full-length release called Free Trial. What can you tell us about the progress of this project?
IT’S DONE. I’ve got quite a lot of music on the way, in the can, and completely finalized. The most important thing to me is that the concept of the album is never lost on the way because I want people to be talking about the questions that I’m asking. As opposed to thinking about the music, I want each track to be a timepiece so I’m being really careful about how I release it. In the grand scheme of things, when Free Trial comes out, I’m really hoping there’s a large discussion around it. There’s an overwhelming amount of music on it.
Aside from touring, you’re doing a few festival dates, but what can we expect from you for the rest of 2019?
This year is going to be a big year for the project. The EP is coming out and the tour is ongoing. Tickets available here. We’re doing Osheaga in the next few days, Reading/Leads, Reeperbahn Festival in Germany, and more to come in Europe. Back and forth all over the world.