2020 was supposed to be a big year for Isaac Dunbar.
The pop wunderkind—who first made waves in late 2018 with “freshman year,” a song he wrote at just 14 years old—was not only putting the finishing touches on his second EP, isaac’s insects, but preparing to embark on his first tour across the U.S. and Europe. And then, well, we don’t have to tell you what happened next.
The EP still arrived in April as planned, but the pandemic put his touring plans on an indefinite hold. With a suddenly clear calendar, he did what most artists did during these destabilizing last 12 months and got to work on new material. Enter evil twin, his third EP released before his 18th birthday. (He’ll hit that milestone on Mar. 17.)
“I made the majority of the songs during quarantine,” Isaac told E! News about the new collection of tunes, which dropped Feb. 19. “It’s just a blend of pop music and experimental music and things that I’m just really into right now. I’m very excited for my fans to hear it, and for new listeners to discover it too.”
In celebration of the new EP, E! News asked Isaac to pull back the curtain on the artists and albums that have shaped his life and career. From the first album he ever bought to the song he wishes he’d written himself, this is the soundtrack to his life.
The song/album that reminds me of childhood: “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. My father used to play it when I couldn’t fall asleep. He would take me in a car and put me in the booster seat, and he would drive me around town. I would just check out. Every single time, it worked. And still to this day, my father will drive me around and play music like that and I’ll just knock out immediately.
The first album I remember buying: The Fame by Lady Gaga. I even have a vinyl of it. I got it when I was, I think 7 years old in 2009. I heard “Paparazzi” on the radio for the first time, and I was like, “Who is this woman?” So I told my dad to bring me to FYE—that was the popular music store—and I got a CD. I played it in museums. I’d have headphones on and just chill, listening to Gaga at 7.
The song/album people might not expect me to love: Whole Lotta Red by Playboi Carti. I just think that—I could be wrong, but people perceive me to be more into pop music. But I don’t know, I really like that Playboi Carti album a lot. And a lot of people did not like it. I think it’s really good.
The song/album that makes me think of falling in love: I’ve never been in love before, but if I were to fall in love, I feel like it would be just like “Venus as a Boy” by Björk.
The song/album I turn to when I’m at my lowest: A song called “Alison” by Slowdive. Slowdive was a very popular band in the ’90s. They made shoegaze music. It’s a very dreary, reverb-drenched genre of music, and that song is very heartbreaking. Whenever I’m sad, I just put it on and sulk.
If I could only hear one song for the rest of my life, it would be: “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead. I think it is just a masterful record. If I could write a song like that, I don’t know what I would do with myself. I think it’s just one of the best songs in the world.
The song/album that’s guaranteed to get me turned all the way up: “Pockets Bigger” by Flo Milli. That makes me wanna shake ass. No matter where I’m at—a parking lot, the grocery store—if that song comes on, I’m gonna shake ass.
The song/album I wish I wrote/recorded: “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. I just think it’s the perfect pop record. The songwriting, the structure, the production—everything about it. It’s just timeless in my opinion.
My own song that I’ll never get tired of performing: “ferrari.” It’s from my first EP, balloons don’t float here. Every time I played it live…the energy of the room, we were all in perfect harmony. It was just so fun to perform live.
My own song that I’ll be happy to retire: “freshman year.” I made it when I was 14, and I’m not that age anymore. I don’t really relate to it anymore in certain aspects. So I would be happy to retire that record.
The song on my new project that I can’t wait for fans to sing along with me on tour: “intimate moments.” It’s such a scream ballad-type thing. I can hear the crowd right now. It’s gonna be beautiful. I feel like, again, like I said before, our energies will just be in harmony. It will be good.
For more from Isaac, be sure to check out the video above!
evil twin is available now.