Bands you should know: Isaiah Small

By Erika Kellerman / junior Communication and Media major / intern at Opus One Productions


I want to spread orange music everywhere. – Isaiah Small

The cool-vibes kid Isaiah Small moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to attend Duquesne University. The 20-year-old artist started playing music near the end of his high school career, when indie artist Bobby Raps gave him a spot on his show at the “iconic” First Ave in Minneapolis, according to Small.

Small’s brother inspired him to get into music. He said, “My brother had drums and guitars in his room when I was born. If I could pick it up, I played it. I once split my chin jumping on a bed with a guitar when I was 3.”

Small realized he wanted to play music for the rest of his life when he performed at Mr. Smalls Funhouse & Theatre in Millville, PA. Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa saw the show and told Small his “melodies were dope”and said Small’s band was “fresh with a hint of old school.” Small is still in disbelief; he said, “Words like that coming from a legend give you hope.”

In response to the generic “what if this doesn’t work out?” backup plan question, Small said, “My backup plan involves music. I give piano lessons right now.” He joked, “I just need 20 students to pay rent. Hit me up if you need lessons. I teach jazz and classical [piano].”

In addition to singing, Small plays the drums, guitar, bass, and piano. He met his current band at Duquesne University: Nick (nicknamed Nicky Nolo) plays the drums, and Denzel (Yung Zel) plays the bass; they’re both currently in school for music. Jacob (Neat Messy) plays guitar, and studies Liberal Arts. According to Small, his band is different from other bands because they’re versatile. They can play jazz, rock, pop, and hip hop, and they can play each others’ instruments.

Small is inspired by Radiohead and Outkast; he likes to mix both of those sounds. Lyrically, Small doesn’t have any curse words in his songs. He likes to speak about positivity; This means no references to drugs or bad activities that “won’t improve humanity as a whole.”


Isaiah Small – Photograph by Erika Kellerman

In the future, Small hopes that his music brings people together. “I’m black and white. I want everyone to have a part of me that they can relate to.” He would also like to tour with Allan Kingdom, Pouya, Mac Miller, and Wiz Khalifa. He adds, “Mr. Smalls is the best; when I do my own headlining show in Pittsburgh, it will be at Mr. Smalls.”

Why should you know Isaiah Small? “Orange music” is why.

Small said his music is very personal to him—an array of colors that represent the parts of him he expresses through each song. According to Small, “‘Red’ is an album about the person I don’t want to be. ‘Yellow’ is an album about the person I’m slowly becoming.” Small said “Red” is a rock based album, while “Yellow” is jazz based.

“Red and Yellow mixed together make Orange. I make Orange Music,” said Small. The only way Small can describe his sound is through colors, and ultimately, he strives for an Orange sound. “[Orange] is bright, but not too bright, and it still mixes well with dark colors like brown.”

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