Listening to Nigeria-born, Chicago-based Dreamer Isioma's debut full-length album, Goodnight Dreamer, feels like diving into an immersive new world. That's likely similar to Isioma's experience of creating the project: As they described to NME, the album was like a "science experiment."
"When I began the project, I was just somebody who wanted answers," the multi-genre artist explained. "As I was researching my philosophical questions about life and what is happening here, I kind of wrote my answers."
In this episode of Press Play at Home, Isioma delivers a kaleidoscopic performance of the first track on that album, "StayUp!" Surrounded by their band, the Celestials, Isioma seems to float through the performance, bouncing to the song's pulsing groove and twinkling riffs.
According to Isioma, the genre of "StayUp!" is "psychedelic afrobeats," and pulls from a wide range of musical eras. Picking influences piece by piece, as opposed to adopting one stylistic template, allows the artist to build their own new world, and invites listeners to wholly submerge themselves in the soundscape.
Though the song is one of Goodnight Dreamer's lighter tracks, its lyrics still dig deep into plaintive honesty, describing a person triumphing over the forces — both external and internal — that wish them harm. "I want to get better/ I want to see another day/ I've been writing letters/ Doing anything to keep me sane/ I'm not safe anymore with my thoughts/ I'm at war," Isoma sings in the yearning second verse.
"StayUp!" might be a bop, but the lyrics make it clear that it's also part of a larger spirit quest. Isioma wrote this song and many Goodnight Dreamer tracks while tripping on psychedelic mushrooms, and they explained to Bandcamp that they also took inspiration from astrophysical literature, including theories of quantum immortality.
Press play above to watch Isioma distill those diverse themes and influences into a catchy, prismatic, dance-along performance of "StayUp!," and keep checking GRAMMY.com for new episodes of Press Play at Home.
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