There must be something in the Nordic soil of Sweden—superstar DJs pop up there more frequently than meatballs at an IKEA. You might not have even realized this but Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Alesso, Eric Prydz, Adam Beyer, Rebecca & Fiona, and Adrian Lux all hail from Sweden. Now it seems like another Swedish upstart is poised to take the spotlight—iSHi. You may have caught his smack-down of a debut single, "Push It," which featured the snarling vocals of Pusha T.
This week, iSHi returns with an EP called Spring Pieces, which reveals a softer side to the producer. Inspired by the structure of an orchestral piece, the EP unfurls over four separate movements, starting with hard, hip-hop sounds before moving into a slower, dreamier territory, and transitioning back to uptempo R&B. Like most of iSHi's music, it comes with strong accompanying visuals by Alex Wessely, who also directed the video for "Push It."
"I have this 'disease' that when I make a track, I see visuals to everything," iSHi tells THUMP over the phone from Stockholm. He would describe the images he associated with each track to Wessely—"I see a girl drowning… here, I see snow." The resulting video takes place in an alpine landscape populated by wolves and mysteriously cloaked figures. It's equal parts Scandinavian fairy tale and high-fashion ad.
If all of this seems pretty advanced for someone who's just starting out, it's because iSHi isn't exactly new to the game. He's just been behind the scenes, producing for artists like Tinie Tempah, Rihanna, Professor Green and Lupe Fiasco. He's also chummy with his fellow Swedes, crediting Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso for opening his eyes to the EDM movement back in the mid-2000s. He remembers tagging along to a Swedish House Mafia show in Paris in 2007: "They asked me to hold the camera, and I was like, 'what is this, what's happening?!'"
Today, iSHi is pushing forward with his own sound, a mix of hip-hop with soul, techno, and electro with an emphasis on the hard-edged aggression of 808 drums. It looks like he's got some big names in his corner.
"I was showing Avicii the video [for Spring Pieces] the other day, and he was like, holy shit, we gotta re-do our visuals!" he says with a laugh.
Spring Pieces is out on May 1 and will be available to stream on Spotify
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