Mixtape No. 41: Isle & Fever

Isle & Fever

Mixtape No. 41

isle&fever

WORDS: Karena Meyer
PHOTOS: Cristina Dunlap


Inspired by 70s and 80s beats with an electro twist, isle&fever make the kind of music that pool parties are made of. “We call it bedroom disco,” Donald Eley and Tiger Smith explain. A little bit of funk, disco, and soul separate this duo apart from the standard electronic dance and mash music scene. Offering smooth warm analog tones with an indie rock presence, isle&fever infuse vintage beats with 21st century freshness.


Born and raised in San Clemente, music appreciation lessons came early for Tiger. He recalls his teacher Mrs. Bland fondly as “this chill old lady who would play piano while the children danced and threw streamers around.” Tiger’s affinity with music was cultivated by long road trips looking out the window while Elton John and The Beach Boys played on the car cassette player. After attending school in Baltimore and DC, Tiger had had enough winter grey skies and humid summers, moving back to California and settling in Echo Park.


Donald hails from Mobile, Alabama. He grew up going to punk shows and surfing the Alabama waves, which I assure you exist. When he reached his 20s, the electronic music and synth scene caught his attention. Before making music himself, Donald was a DJ, ran a vinyl label, and produced music. After some time in Dallas and San Diego he moved to Los Angeles, where he rented a poolside room. At a random house party one night, Donald opened a closet to find Tiger taking a nap on a shelf. They’ve been friends ever since.


When it comes to making music, Donald and Tiger seem to be on the same wavelength. They have a similar approach to building grooves, testing out vocals, and refining their beats. When collaborating with various instruments and ideas, the process is so seamless and symbiotic they often forget who wrote or played certain parts.


With their self-release debut single out this year, isle&fever are excited to see their music reach a larger audience. Donald and Tiger are collaborating with Echo Park musicians Antoine Diligent and Thomas Bowden to help diversify their sound and hone in on their live show presence. They’re also excited to release their first vinyl with Stratford Court, a label based out of Del Mar – the same place Tiger’s dad was a legendary beach lifeguard in 70s and 80s.


When the beats aren’t flowing, Donald and Tiger stick to their East Side milieu, frequenting local bars Semi-Tropic or The Friend to push through creative slumps or meet up with friends. “The beauty of this area is that you run into friends everywhere – at the park, the grocery market, or random house parties.” There’s that random house party again. Echo Park is a neighborhood for both work and play; nearby venues like the Echo, Satellite, Bootleg Theatre, and Silverlake Lounge have all hosted isle&fever’s boudoir beats. Home is where the music is.