Serena Isioma, a 19-year-old artist currently residing in Chicago, will soon be one of the most notable faces of the new Chicago music wave. Her versatility and ability to tell a story with her songs set her apart from other artists. Serena's music is truly something that you can put on repeat over and over again thanks to the incredible vocals and lyrics. To put it very bluntly, Isioma is on a different level; she's on her own wave, nobody is doing it quite like her. If you're looking to put your friends onto new music or new music for your own rotation, look no further than Serena Isioma.
Where did you grow up?
"I guess the best way I can describe where I'm from is to say I'm from everywhere. Oak Park, London, Nigeria, Chicago, Cali."
What were you like growing up, compared to how you are now?
"I feel like I'm pretty much the same person, I'm just better at being that person."
When did you get into music?
"Basically what happened was my older brother played the violin at a really young age - we're four years apart. I was like, "alright, big bro plays violin, I wanna play violin," except he started at a normal age and I started at like 3. So, I was doing that shit and I got really into gospel music, like really deep into it. So, I did that until the end of freshman year pretty much. Then I stopped music period, then picked back up on it going into my junior year of high school.
So, it was like a year gap, but at this time I was recording my voice and shit and thought I was like a rapper, then it became like pop rap. Between that gap I didn't understand music so I had to relearn it. It could've started when I was going into my junior year, or one could consider me doing this since I was 3 years old."
How would you describe your music?
"I consider myself to be a pop star in the making, but if I had to categorize, it would be pop, hiphop, and rock."
What inspires you to write a song about a certain person or situation?
"To be honest, most of my songs are just like exaggerated stories of what’s happening in my life so it could be like, I have this song "Mystery Boy" and that song is basically about how I moved to Cali away from my boo, we split, but then I remember that my boo's best friend told me not to break up with him. Then I just hear whispers about some shorty talking to my man, and I was like what???
So basically, the beginning of the song is us breaking up and parting ways and the second part is like. "bitch what the fuck you can't talk to my mans". So I had my friend Andy pop up on that song; fun fact about Andy is he was just on Netflix; he was on Rhythm and Flow, he used to live down the street. Anyways, I had my friend Andy hop on it, I gave him no context. That way he would kind of create it and basically he came back to the song damn near on queue. He was basically like, saying back to me, "yeah, you're cool but I fell for someone else," and I'm like, "damn, bet."
You find someone and you let go of them and then you want them back but its too late. That song is lowkey really dark, but it went on every bedroom pop playlist; hella 8th graders will DM me like "woah". I'm creating emo ass kids, I love it."
Can you create a whole song simply based off a single word or name?
"Absolutely, that's why I like type beats - the name of the type beat can stir some shit."
What is your creative process like?
"Something happening in my life that I won't be processing, so I guess that'll be happening and I'll hear a beat that I really like I’ll be like, "alright. I’ll write on that". That’s generally it - something happens, I hear a beat, and something could've happened 3 months ago or the day I heard the beat."
Do you record at home or do you record at a studio?
"Every thing that I’ve dropped has been recorded from my room, but for the future it’s like half and half. My music is going to be sounding a lot more professional, it's going to be sounding bigger."
Do you prefer performing live or chilling in the studio?
"I don't like going in the studio. I don't like recording just because recording is so much work bro, so much work. Especially when it’s by yourself or even with other people struggling to communicate. With a performance, you're controlling everything. For me, when I step on to the stage I have just the natural ability to tell people to jump, move, or queue the DJ enough to make them dance at the right moments. I don't know, I just feel very in control. "
What has been your favorite performance and why?
"My best show was probably my second to last one at this venue called The Auxillary. I threw it with my friends Deryk, a rap group called LowerLipDrip, Godly the Ruler; we threw that show in August and it was on of the last day of summer type shit, the week everyone was going back to school. Dude, it was crazy; we had people driving across states to come see the show."
In the song "in my head" you say you're selfish, would you consider yourself selfish in general?
"See, that was a nice word. I would consider myself an asshole sometimes, not gonna lie. I'm a very giving individual; I’m really quick to give out money, but the second someone fucks with me I'll destroy you. I can be an asshole, but in general I feel like I’m a pretty selfless person. That song was me being an asshole, but in general I give and I take."
What's the most difficult thing about creating music?
"Some people cant wait to drop to music; my life is so hectic that I don't really feel the need to be focusing so much on music because I have 7 other things that need to be done as well. Like music is really one part of me - it’s probably like 1/3 or 1/4 of what I be doing. Because I be throwing events, collabing with other brands, and I have a family to feed. When I make music, I'm not doing it for clout and I'm not doing it for bread.
Actually no, I'm definitely doing it for the bread but it comes organically. I've never really had to force myself to make music. And the times where I have forced myself to make music, it comes out really good. When I'm under pressure like, "I need groceries" and I’m like, "I need to drop a song right now", then I do that shit. My thing is that I pressure myself months in advance, like I'm pressuring myself to finish an EP that I know won't drop until damn near summer. Business-wise I pretty much have my year planned out damn near. I have 7 backup plans, I could be a spy you don't know."
Favorite person you've worked with?
"I love working with everyone genuinely; everyone that I've worked with has taught me something."
"See it's hard, because the people that I like, I know they won't be popping by the time I'd be able to work with them. I don't know if I’ll ever be on Ellen cause she'll be old. It’s hard to pick my idols because they are older than me. Right now if I could, I would choose Ariana Grande."
Collaborate with someone in a completely different genre?
"OHHHH FUCK YEAH, OH MY GOSH. Ghostmane. Me and a Ghostmane song would be insane. I just want to do adlibs; I just want to be humming in the background. That would be some crazy shit."
What would you consider a life-changing moment?
"Being in New York; I was recording this song that I'm gonna be dropping next year in my friend Frankie's studio. I check my phone and I have people from different record labels in my email talking about "lets link", I'm like "why?". They said I was on one Spotify playlist, just one of those editorial playlists, and my shit skyrocketed. Literally, my life changed that day."
Craziest experience you've had?
"The craziest studio session was yesterday because I was there for like 10 hours. I went to hang out with my friends, and my friend was like, "you should meet this person, like you guys would make cool music." I didn't know that person was as poppin' as they were and I was not prepared for that. Everyone was cool, we were vibing and we got fucking IHOP. We were literally just chilling just making music and boom walks in this dude that I've been listening to since early high school. Like, I've been a fan of this person forever and they're in the NBA video game, they have songs with Chance the Rapper. People I have been looking up to for a minute were following me that day; we were just connecting.
It was so weird because we weren't really on our phones that much, we were playing games on the TV, just talking- we were talking about titties and shit. There was a poster in the studio with naked women and the conversation just sparked from there cause no one really notices the poster until you look at the wall and you're like, "damn, those are titties."
Favorite brands to wear?
"Right now, I'm wearing Champion joggers. These are fleece and they were cheap as fuck, like $15. I really try to save my money to get in my fashion shit, because when I wear clothes, I have good taste. I really like Chanel scarves."
Besides music, what would be your dream job?
"Pretty much what I do already - party. Essentially, my job is to have fun. Go on Instagram, get people to watch your shit, boost content, promote people, promote functions, go to those functions, network with more people, throw bigger functions at bigger places."
"Currently, I've been wearing Reeboks. I've been wearing Reeboks just because they're mad cheap. But my next shoe is the Nike Blazers, or Tyler, the Creator just dropped a snippet of shoes he's dropping on November 11th."
Weird hobby or interest that you have?
"I'm boring, lowkey. All I did today was watch Victorious and do homework. I was doing a lot of shit in between, but those were like the main things. I did MMA, so I like that shit; I like sparing and going to the gym and really working out. I used to be a swimmer, I like swimming. I skate too, but it’s cold now so I can't."
"Shoutout to God, shoutout to my team, shoutout to Frankie, shoutout to Unnamed Mafia, shoutout to me."
*Screams* "I was at Six Flags that day and I saw 6 bitches with fucking AF1's and they looked so basic- they were wearing high-waisted shorts, skinny as fuck, blonde, blue eyed. Wear a better outfit, please. They just saw shoes everyone was wearing and bought them, or had their daddy buy them for them."
"Cause that shit be blowing me when people really suck; people genuinely have no talent. When people send me mixes that I don't like, I'm like, "would you listen to this if this wasn't you?" A lot of the time people wouldn't reply or be like, "ya know what, you're right."
"You ever just go on Snapchat and watch their story and unadd them? Like, who are you and why are you doing that shit? People just be blowing me, people are just ugly for no reason- that's my answer."
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