Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Irene Serra Of ISQ

Artwork for ‘Run To You.’ Courtesy of The Playground PR.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Alt-jazz quartet ISQ recently released their fourth full-length album ‘Requiem For The Faithful 2.0: The Remixes,’ which features the latest single – a remix of “Run To You” done by South London-based collective Slovo’s founding member and Faithless’ former lead guitarist, Dave Randall, via CP Records.

Randall brings the magic touch to everything, as he has worked with the likes of Dido, Sinead O’Connor and Emiliana Torrini, while ISQ have performed for sold-out audiences and the London Jazz Festival in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

ISQ are vocalist Irene Serra, double bassist Richard Sadler, pianist Naadia Sheriff and drummer Chris Nickolls.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Serra about ‘Run To You’ and more.

Music Bugle – What made you want to release “Run To You”? 

Irene Serra – We had always played around with the idea of doing a remix of one of our original tracks and when the first lockdown happened, we thought it would be a perfect time to start collaborating remotely with some of our favorite producers. We decided to do a complete remix of the last album we had released in 2019, called ‘Requiem For The Faithful.’ I immediately got in touch with Dave Randall – aka Slovo – as we had worked together before and I was a big fan of his music. I asked him if he wanted to work on one of our tracks for the new remix album and he said, “Yes!” That’s how the Slovo Remix of “Run To You” came into musical existence.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Irene Serra – My musical tastes are super eclectic, so this week alone, I’ve been listening to Groove Armada, Fiona Bevan, Agnes Obel, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Cyrille Aimee and Nancy Wilson.

Music Bugle – What are three of your favorite all-time albums?

Irene Serra – Wow, only three?! I guess they would have to be ‘After Hours’ by Sarah Vaughan, ‘Post’ by Bjork and ‘Piano And A Microphone 1983’ by the wondrous Prince.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?

Irene Serra – I guess what really excites me about our music is that it continuously travels between different styles of music, creating one big melting pot of jazz, pop, rock and electronic sounds. That’s what Time Out London called us anyways!

Music Bugle – How did you decide the ISQ name?

Irene Serra – They are the initials of my name, so they stand for the “Irene Serra Quartet,” but as the music is mostly a collaboration with Richard Sadler, the double bass player, we wanted to focus the attention on the band rather than one specific person.

Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?

Irene Serra – I was born in Italy, but grew up in Denmark and then came to the United Kingdom to study at university and make music, so I have quite a messy background! What I’m most proud about is the fact that it’s a very international background and I grew up surrounded by people from many different nationalities and cultures. That’s why I was so drawn to London, I suppose. People come to live and work here from all over the world, so you never feel like a foreigner!

Music Bugle – What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Irene Serra – I think releasing music on my terms and having the creative freedom to do as I choose. It’s really tough being a full-time musician sometimes. There’s so much you have to juggle with and the working hours aren’t sociable at all. The thing that makes it all worth it is knowing that I’m being really true to my artistic expression when there were definitely easier musical routes or jobs that I could have chosen.

Music Bugle – What was your most memorable moment while on stage?

Irene Serra – We played an incredible gig at the Town Hall Symphony Hall in Birmingham as part of our last tour. It was just one of those magical gigs when everything comes together and the band and audience are in total sync.

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?

Irene Serra – It depends on how you use it. It can be an incredibly powerful tool that allows you to connect with your fans in a way that wasn’t even possible 10 years ago, where you can express yourself as an artist and share your music. However, it can be quite time-consuming and depressing when you’re having to spend more time on social media than practicing and writing. Also, social media as a whole can be quite narcissistic and I really dislike that aspect of it.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Irene Serra – Well, I basically had all my performances cancelled for a year and only now are gigs creeping back in and it’s so wonderful. It’s been a tough time for everyone, but the entertainment industry was particularly badly hit, but I’m hopeful and I think the arts are going to bounce back bigger and better than ever!

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