WPGM Commentary: Claudia Isaki Struggles With Anxiety And Her Faith On New EP ‘More Flowers’

My name is Claudia Isaki, and inviting other people into my creative process helped me make my most personal music yet. My new EP More Flowers is a labour of love. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel.

As a French-Congolese woman, music was an integral part of my upbringing – singing was very natural. It was a moment of sharing, a time for my parents to teach us a language or a principle, and a special way to bond with my siblings. We’d listen to records together on roadtrips, always the same.

I was raised in a suburban town in the east side of Paris where I grew up on Congolese rumba, French classics and Gospel music via my parents. Then my brother introduced me to Arctic Monkeys’ Humbug – which revolutionised us both.

During my teens, I started digging and I quickly fell in love with folk music for the songwriting while French rap taught me rhymes and flow, and I felt free to experiment with my voice by studying the likes of Amy Winehouse and Ella Fitzgerald. I believe my current sound is the sum of all this music.

This EP was made as a challenge – to prove to myself I could bring a vision to life, to push my music to its limits in order to make something new while staying true to myself.

In the summer of 2021, I decided to leave my former label and became an independent artist. I’d already written “How Could I Forget” and “Carioca Beach”, and they sounded like they should be part of a full body of work – I just didn’t know how I would make it and who with, but I wanted to create something to be proud of.

As those two songs basically wrote themselves, I got to understand what More Flowers would be about. I finally had the strength to put words on my 2020 and what those lockdowns did to me – or rather, revealed about me.

At the time, my brother put me on to Reaper and I had fun exploring production. However, I couldn’t bring myself to process my feelings, let alone write about them – but I had severe anxiety and dealt with suicidal ideation. Still, through it all – I believed, in God, in a better future.

The first single, “Marathon”, is the epitome of this project, as is evident in this lyric, “Only reason I’m singing is because I survived all the things I thought I wouldn’t“. Despite how personal the themes are, this EP is also the sum of mine and other people’s sounds coming together for the first time. And just clicking.

In late 2021, I had a lot of songs. I was adamant on implementing a new process: my demos used to be very minimalistic, there was no more than some guitar and one voice. This time, I wanted my demos to have the most ideas I could come up with, intentions for other instruments and clear vocal direction.

I met with bassist and songwriter Steve Yameogo as I needed someone to lay bass lines where I hadn’t come up with any. I told him I was aiming at a hybrid sound: to mix traditional live recording with newer production elements, and he knew how to take these tracks to another level.

He introduced me to friends he’d been playing with for years: Samuel Souissa on drums and Raphaël Berrien on second guitar; I then invited Tay Song to play keys and it became a collective work. We spent months arranging the songs, one week to record them at Fabrice Costello’s studio in Puteaux, before adding background vocals and production at home. The EP was mixed and master by Franck Boom earlier this year.

The first song we worked on together was “Heaven”; that’s when I knew this EP would be different from anything I’d done before. We shared references and realized we loved the same music: Jordan Rakei’s ears must’ve rung a lot, Yebba was always in the conversation, and Radiohead heavily inspired the drums on “Now or Never”.

More Flowers was made over the course of a couple of years. We sometimes wonder if it could’ve taken less time, but I believe every second served the music. I got to live life with these songs before their release out in the world, I got a few seasons to envision what the rest of my life would be listening to these.

Those 7 tracks changed my life: they taught me patience, the value of collaboration and the importance of community. It takes a village. It’s my first time releasing music as an independent artist, and I’ve never felt more surrounded.

I graduated from law school during the process, and took a gap year to finish the record – still thinking I’d further study law to become a barrister. More Flowers imposed itself as the thing to teach me music was worth fully dedicating myself to.

I made it to remember the bad and never take the good for granted. Ironically, making this EP about struggling with faith and anxiety has made me believe in God more and given me hope for the future.

I hope this EP brings peace to someone, that they may hear my solidarity as they’re dealing with their torments and believe there’s still something for them out there. Something good. More flowers.

Listen to More Flowers below and stream it everywhere else here.

Words by Claudia Isaki // Follow her on Instagram + TikTok

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