Isaiah Rubio: A musician with a determined path

Story and Videos by Zoe Ekeh

Musician with A calling  

Walking past a concert stage set up with a huge screen, LED lights, and speakers, Isaiah Rubio felt anxiety come over him. This feeling caused Rubio to question if he would ever belong on that stage.

Rubio ignored his interest in creating music until an overwhelming feeling of longing to pursue his musical passion came upon him that day. Since then, he has listened to a calling for using his musical talent.

As a sound engineer, sound producer, songwriter, and singer Rubio’s music career moved at a pace that was too slow for him.

 “I wasn’t getting very far in my music,” Rubio said. “I didn’t have great songs, and I was getting max 10 streams. That’s very discouraging as an artist.”

Rubio’s discouragement did not last for long, although. Creating music was something he felt pulled towards. His success proved that feeling of attraction to be right because Rubio has performed live four times since 2021.

“The moment I walked out on stage and began my set, I knew instantly, ‘This is who you are,’” Rubio said.

From singing in church as a kid to producing music at his home beginning in 2015, Rubio has always had an interest in music.  He started out with making short demos with audio production software. Three years into working with this form of software, Rubio implemented his voice into the process.

“I was borrowing somebody’s microphone and interface, and I kind of learned the very basics of the recording process,” Rubio said.

“I didn’t understand mixing or songwriting or anything, I just knew that I could pull up a beat or make a beat on my laptop,” Rubio said. “Then record to it.”

Rapping was Rubio’s first form of recorded vocals that he applied to his demos. With the skills of recording and sound producing Rubio really honed into the process of making songs. He now views himself as a semi-professional recording artist and sound producer.

“It’s something that I think is ready for the world to hear,” Rubio said.

College student and musician

Currently a junior audio production student at Cedarville University, Rubio creates music during his spare time.

Rubio does not use conventional instruments for his songs. All the musical noise in his songs is created with audio engineering software. Sounds of any sort, from instrumental to reverb effects are created with software tools such as virtual synthesizer and DWA W’s.

Since Rubio does not use any real instruments but instead manipulates audio software to create instrumental sounds, he prefers the title of artist over musician.

“Musician kind of, at least in my opinion, implies that you play a specific instrument or multiple (ones),” Rubio said.

A bedroom producer, audio engineer, singer/songwriter are all skills Rubio has picked up on his own one after the other. Now he has a new skill that he is teaching himself music theory.

“It helps to know music theory, you should definitely learn music theory, but if you don’t it’s no problem to start creating,” he said.

Rubio believes that having knowledge of the fundamental concepts of music is important when creating music. So, music theory is something he now applies to his music creating process.

Studying audio engineering at Cedarville has allowed Rubio to become more independent as an artist when it comes to creating his music. His time has become more consumed with making music since taking on more tasks with creating it as a sound producer and engineer.

“Gives me a lot of freedom to really express what I want to express, but it also makes the work load a lot heavier,” Rubio said. “If you don’t know something you have to learn you’ll have to learn something.”

Rubio’s audio studies have helped him improve his engineering skills with making music.  While he may have always been skillfully talented with writing songs, figuring out how to create a sonic beat and rhythm to go along with his lyrics, is something Rubio has learned to do in college.

Rubio has met a couple of Cedarville alumni that apply audio engineering to their professions. Through conversations and shadowing these professionals Rubio has acquired a new creative concept with what he has been exposed to.

“Meeting people through my major and just learning a lot, it’s really helped me get the basics down of what I need,” Rubio said.  “That helps me push forward in the creativity of it.”

Experimentation and discovering new features with audio engineering and producing software is what Rubio did prior to being mentored when creating his music.  Now, Rubio’s creative process involves him analyzing his thought process of using the different software features that he uses to make his music.

“Why am I going to choose this? Why am I EQ-ing this way or putting this reverb or doing this vocal take?” Rubio said.

Musical inspirations and influences

Party Next Door, The Weeknd, Men I Trust, and TV Girl are Rubio’s current inspirations.

“I like to get the creativity from alternative and indie music, especially psychedelic, I love psychedelic music,” Rubio said. “I pull from that and bring it towards R&B.”

The vocals of the R&B music genre, the vibe of the Dark R&B genre, the creativeness of the alternative genre and the feeling of the psychedelic pop & rock genres are what is brought into Rubio’s music.

“I just love genres that aren’t too saturated I guess,” Rubio said. I like things that make you feel out of body or something.”

Rap and pop music are genres that Rubio has transitioned from. He still enjoys listening to them, but they just do not suit his taste with creating music.

Underground music is the genres Rubio pays attention to now. The genres have not become popular on radio airwaves and streaming platforms inspire Rubio.

A current music genre that is in the underground radar is Dark R&B which is what Rubio classify his music as. It is not a music genre sung by well-known and trending artists currently. Rubio does say, although, that Dark R&B may become a mainstream genre soon due to its rising popularity.

Rubio’s two latest songs display his inspiration for alternative indie music and dark R&B music. “Like You,” – Rubio’s latest song has been compared to songs top dark R&B artists have recorded, such as Daniel Caesar and DV4d.

Fans and listeners

 “Like You” is available on all streaming platforms, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, etc. He released the song a couple months ago but has not promoted it. He is still trying to promote his previous song.

 “In My Arms” is Rubio’s other latest song and the most successful song he has created. This song broke 3,000 listening streams on Spotify and collectively has around 5,000 streams from all the streaming platforms it’s on. Rubio has also worked on promoting this song through TikTok.

“When my first video for that hit 12,000 views or something, it really pushed that song,” Rubio said. “So, I’m still kind of riding out the wave of “In My Arms,” but I’m also at some point trying to transition into my new song, which is “Like You.”

The people that listen to Rubio’s music are not just locals to where he lives. Having this knowledge provides Rubio with a sense of excitement because his music is being heard by many.

Faith and beliefs

As a believer Rubio is not seeking to create Christian music exactly, but more so to apply his beliefs and faith into his process of making music. Dark R&B is one of the music genres his music falls under and, – is known for its dark lyrics.

“In the R&B space, it’s a very vulgar genre at times,” Rubio said. “It’s difficult to listen too as a believer, and it’s also difficult to promote as a believer.”

“So, I think it really impacts my topic matter, and keeping things clean, but not only keeping things clean, it’s keeping things sort of positive,” Rubio said.

Rubio wants to make music that emotes the genre of dark R&B while at the same time not using dark lyrics that reflect dark feelings. He wants his music to appeal to believers and non-believers, in which he is not necessarily praising and worshipping the Lord with his music. Rubio is motivated to do this because he has seen the reactions, he gets young fans that attend his little sisters’ school.  

“Seeing them and knowing that they’re listening to my music and knowing what I believe in, really encourages me to keep things clean and keep things for everybody,” Rubio said.

“Keep things just good all-around to the point where it’s almost blameless,” Rubio said. “Nobody can point at me and say woah, ‘You’re talking about this you’re talking about that’ and try to discredit my faith.”

Becoming a full-time musician is what Rubio wants to pursue when he finishes college.  He has no question or doubt that music is his calling and purpose in life.

“I want to do music, I want to do it for as long as I possibly can, and the music industry is very rigid,” Rubio said. “It’s like a very fast river and you can get washed out of it so fast, just as fast as you came into it.”

Desires for the future

Having a family is an important goal for Rubio when he finishes college. Music or audio engineering is how he would support his family. He wants to be a full-time musician but has a backup profession just in case he does not make it into the scene.

“A goal for myself within the next five to seven years is probably have at least 100,000 monthly (listeners) just on Spotify a lone,” Rubio said. “If I can do that, that’s enough where I can start living off of the music as well.”

Rubio has done professional side jobs here and there while he has been in college. Working with Cedarville University he has produced podcasts. As a student studying audio engineering, Rubio has gotten exposure and experience through audio and sound design projects that he has submitted for grades. He believes that the knowledge and skills that he gained from studying audio engineering can allow him to work as a sound designer for movie sets, music video sets, etc.

Believing that he can pursue music as a full-time career, Rubio wants to see how successful he will be by age 27. This will determine whether being a musician will be a full-time career or hobby for him.

“I will in some way end up with a platform, whether that platform will be my family, in a small church, a platform in front of millions of people,” Rubio said. “I guess the purpose is to, ‘represent Christ well, number one.’”

1 Reply to "Isaiah Rubio: A musician with a determined path"

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    Owen May 2, 2024 (8:58 pm)

    Izzy is super talented. Definitely going to make it big sometime soon!

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