Interview: Isabeau Waia’u Walker
Isabeau is a musician, teacher & lover of family & God. With a humble beginning in Maui, Isabeau was always playing music, living community & staying wide-eyed. I love her music & the fact that she has kept herself as herself whilst she creates music & videos. Join her on the way.
Q: Hey Beau, let’s jump in with looking at how music has been a part of your life when you were growing up. When did you first realise that you loved music & wanted to develop it as a craft?
A: Whew…this journey started WAYYY BACK.
When we were just lil’ munchkins, my dad and mom would lead us in worship. We have pictures of all of us Waia’u kids jumping on the bed singing to songs from Winds of Worship and my mom and dad’s versions of Keith Green songs. We always sang together. I thought that’s what all families did…but quickly realized in school that that was not the case. I haven’t had any formal training but I have had a lot of training. Singing with family. Playing music with family and friends. Worship gatherings with YWAM students visiting Maui to serve (and also vacation), school outreach clubs, school talent shows, in the hidden corners of our ever-so-small rentals, for friends who would listen, to cafes and coffee shops that would bear with me, to my mom in the laundry room, to YouTube and YouNow sessions and so on.
I knew that this would be a means of communicating my heart and mind. I starting sharing what I was writing when I was in middle school. It wasn’t very good and my parents were so gracious and patient. My friends probably didn’t know better since we were all just growing up and getting better together. My basketball buddies dismissed it as a “hippy” phase. Silly, it would be what would stick past the years of competitive sports
ha. After writing my first “legit” song (bahahahaa) at the end of 7th grade…I knew, I knew that I wanted to keep writing. I wanted to grow. I didn’t know what or where it would lead or what exactly the Lord desired for me. I am still picking it apart even as a 30 year old woman. However, some things are much clearer now. I know WHY I do what I do. I know that I LOVE making/creating/communicating/growing/sharing these songs for people’s ears and hearts. I know that I want to always grow in that way while staying very aware and rooted in the reason WHY I started and was even given a beginning. Yet, I still don’t know what this will translate into when it comes to a career and such.
Q: What has been easy and what has been hard about committing to make music & put it out there on a regular basis?
A: HARD — Time — I am a teacher. I want to be an effective, loving, just and engaging teacher. That kind of teacher requires all sorts of time and heart space. I don’t like to half-ass (pardon) anything I do (which is strange because I also LOVE to be spontaneous and just try out a lot of things)…which makes it hard to give both music (for people) and education (more people). I would love more time…Time to learn, time to practice, time to record and edit, time to share and time to travel and explore and listen to other artists. Sometimes I am really tired. hehe, I laugh but really…sometimes I am really tired.
Confidence — Sometimes I just feel untalented. Sometimes I think I am a YouTuber with a glorified hobby. I have to pray and wait for clarity often to make sure that I am not investing this kind of time and heart into something that is unfruitful and inappropriate for someone of my skill (or lack of skill).
The threat of YouTube trolls is scary…or that I will just straight up underwell people.
Clarity / Discernment — I just want to know sometimes where this is all leading…and it takes me away from the present moment. I want to know when to push ahead and when to be still and not fret.
EASY — I LOVE IT. I LOVE it. I understand and feel understood through it. I get to worship the Father and lead others in it…people have been blessed and encouraged and lead and prompted to seek the Lord (through a song?!) and that is exciting. I get to share the work I have have been tinkering with and I feel like a lil’ kid who cannot wait to show her mom and dad the project she worked on during school. It’s fun! It’s how I connect! It’s a joy!
Q: How much pressure is there to monetise, commoditise and package yourself to get more views/likes/love? Do you see other artists who walk the fine line well?
A: I feel like I was able to operate unaffected by this “pressure” for a long time because I just never approached music in this way…I wasn’t doing it to compete or gain fame. As time moved along, I started to watch other musicians, younger and older to me, move along with better equipment, better networking, more time and more support, and better “packaged” channels and merchandise. There are a number of people, things and beliefs that keep me in check. My husband and family know me…they know why I make music, why I like to write it, sing it, share it…they know my insecurities and how I have grown over the years. Staying in touch with them means that they keep me encouraged and in check even when I feel like others are passing me by.
Tyson really gives me room to dream…he helps me dream of what it could look like and what we could do to grow to that place. AND, he calls me out when it looks like I am striving to race others when this is not a race in the first place.
I want to grow as a musician, as a songwriter, as a person so I know there are things that I will have to that aren’t comfortable now but are necessary changes. However, I am always on guard as to what changes are growth and which ones will compromise who I am as started out as.
I am always looking for artists who walk the line well. Have you found any? There are some that I’ve seen on YouTube who I admire but I don’t know them well enough to know how they are actually doing.
Q: If you could go back to the time you first made your YouTube channel public, what advice would you give to yourself to encourage yourself for the time ahead?
A: 1.) Caution: people besides your family may watch this
2.) Surprise: people besides your family may watch this
3.) Don’t compare yourself other musicians…learn from them but do not get stuck comparing yourself.
4.) You are on your own-God-given timeline…stop fearing that you’ve missed your window.
5.) This is going to be fun…people may think it’s just a hobby but stick with it.
*I wish I would have had some one to “mentor” me through this
I kind of had to make my way through various test trials, ha.
Q: What was the last song, lyric or bundle of words that left you aghast or kept running through your head for days?
A: “You don’t hide Yourself to tease us.” — Amanda Cook
There are a lot of lyrics that get caught up in my brain for a number of reasons. This one just stood out when reading this question. It causes me to think of the character of God, the wonder of His creation, the fact that He doesn’t play games and is straight up about His power, presence and love. I should be able to see and feel and hear Him often because He isn’t hiding Himself from me. His Word is available to me to hear His voice and know His heart and commands. His creation (nature) declares His beauty and perfect creativity. His creation (people) are constant reminders that He is a masterful artist weaving together bone and flesh & emotional and rational thoughts into a human being. His people also remind me of how broken we all are and a desperate reminder to stop trying to do this all on my own.
He is near. I always need that reminder.
Q: If you could collaborate with any three artists on an album, who would they be and why them?
A: 3.) hmmmm…it’s hard to narrow these down. I love so many different artists but some of them rock a sound that I don’t necessarily think fits my sound…hmmmm
2.) Justin Vernon (Bon Iver/Volcano Choir) ’cause he seems capable of capturing all the feels…
1.) My FAMILY. I WISH I WISH I WISH I WISH!
Q: Finally, what inspires you? Places, people, family, videos, books…
A: Whether it be the relationships in front of me, the stories from books or movies, the encounters during travel or daily life…PEOPLE inspire me. Their love, resilience, capacity for mercy and love and evil, all of it inspires me.
The love and consistent presence of the hand of God in all these encounters and relationships is inspiring…He is the reference point when gauging all these encounters and relationships. The stories I choose to tell are grown out of what I believe would honor the Lord and/or bring up conversations that would move us closer to Him.