In Indigo De Souza’s music, all the things can take the type of a revelation. Nihilistic ideas can change into mantras; songs concerning the darkest of topics can change into sing-along anthems. On her new album Any Shape You Take, the Asheville, North Carolina-based songwriter expands on the introspective, idiosyncratic qualities of her 2018 debut I Love My Mom, amplifying the sense of confidence and collective catharsis that her music exudes at its brightest and most direct. Out as we speak through Saddle Creek and co-produced with Bon Iver and Huge Thief collaborator Brad Cook dinner alongside Alex Farrar and Adam McDaniel, the file overflows with honesty and dynamism because it careens from the AutoTuned vocals of ‘17’ to the heartfelt bed room pop of ‘Fairly Footage’, to the harrowing shrieks on centrepiece ‘Actual Ache’ and the infectious, groovy single ‘Maintain U’. Repetition is considered one of De Souza’s strongest instruments – “I’d somewhat die earlier than you die/ Earlier than you die, earlier than you die,” she chants on spotlight ‘Die/Cry’ – however she additionally offers her songs the house to mutate into greater or smaller concepts, concurrently holding them and permitting them to unfold. For an album so fixated on demise, Any Form You Take feels viscerally, overwhelmingly alive.
We caught up with Indigo De Souza for this version of our Artist Spotlight interview series to speak about her first makes an attempt at songwriting, her new album Any Form You Take, dwelling existentially, and extra.
When did music enter your life in a major means?
I’d prefer to assume that music was current in my life from the time that I used to be born. There was a variety of music round me as a result of my dad was a musician, and I’ve seen movies of him enjoying music to me once I was slightly toddler. My mother actually likes music, and I believe that she introduced us to a variety of music festivals, me and my sisters; I keep in mind dancing on the grass at reggae festivals and such. Once I was 9, I began taking guitar classes, and my mother obtained me a 4-track tape recorder, and I might file little songs I used to be writing onto that. I began writing songs as quickly as I knew learn how to play chords on the guitar; I had slightly keyboard, too. After which, once I was 11, I began to play music publicly for folks in cafés and on the road. And the response was all the time so candy. Typically, folks would cry or appeared very touched by what I used to be doing, so I believe it simply turned a very particular factor for me. I felt prefer it was a solution to join with folks, which I had type of had a tough time doing in my life, like in class and stuff.
Do you keep in mind a selected occasion of somebody being moved by considered one of your very early performances? Do you assume it needed to do with the content material of the songs?
I keep in mind a selected factor, as a result of even once I was actually younger, I wrote songs about how a lot I liked my mother. Like, that was all the time a theme. I’ve a recording of this one track that I used to be singing about her, the place it was nearly how a lot I really like my mother and the way unhappy it might be to lose her. [laughs] Which is so bizarre to be writing about whenever you’re a toddler.
That was whenever you have been round 11?
It was most likely round then. And I keep in mind singing that track one time, it was close to her birthday or one thing, and I keep in mind everybody crying a lot and giving me hugs. And I used to be so confused.
What else do you keep in mind writing about?
So, I’ve all these recordings – I’m hoping to place them out sometime as a result of they’re so humorous. There’s one other track that’s about international warming and folks dying and the earth catching on fireplace, and a few of the lyrics are about households saying I really like you for the final time. I believe perhaps I used to be extra emo as a toddler than I’m now.
You began writing songs earlier than you moved to Asheville on the age of 16. How did transferring to a extra various and accepting group have an effect on your songwriting? Particularly because you stated music was already type of an escape for you.
I believe that once I lived in Spruce Pine, I used to be largely conscious of nation music and bluegrass, which is what I grew up round probably the most. And once I moved to Asheville, my concept of music turned a lot broader, beginning with the native downtown Asheville music scene, after which I additionally later turned pals with individuals who lived on the outskirts of Asheville, like in West Asheville, within the components of Asheville which can be nonetheless very unique and aren’t as developed. These folks type of branched out right into a extra underground a part of the music world, and I used to be launched to artists that turned actually essential in my growth as a author.
I simply realised that there was no specific construction that songs needed to take, that there was a endless world of potentialities inside songwriting. And likewise, I believe I discovered that I might be extra summary with my phrases, and I didn’t must worlds that have been really easy for folks to digest. I might simply say very actually how I really feel in no matter means that feels good for me, and that folks will discover one thing to narrate to inside that. Earlier than I left Spruce Pine, as soon as I turned like, “I’m a songwriter,” I used to be writing songs for folks to type of simply perceive, and generally I might write songs that have been particularly very cute or humorous or simply lighter. After which once I moved to Asheville, I got here again into this consciousness that I might simply specific my precise emotions very starkly. And that that type of energetic area of my songs would assist different folks come into their very own feelings and course of their very own world.
I wished to ask you concerning the cover artwork for the brand new album, Any Form You Take, as a result of it’s as soon as once more a portray by your mom.
What’s humorous is that each of those album covers have been visions that got here to me as I used to be simply going about my life, and I simply considered the imagery. It was actually humorous as a result of I considered this imagery and requested mother to do like an apocalyptic grocery retailer aisle scene, and for the kid to be within the automotive and the mother to be pushing the cart. After which COVID occurred a short time after she completed the portray and I keep in mind feeling so deeply spooked, like I had brought about the panic. It simply jogged my memory a lot of the way in which that the grocery retailer aisles regarded at the start of the pandemic.
Did you could have any conversations together with her concerning the songs throughout that course of?
My mother’s not a musician, and she or he’s not musically inclined. And it’s humorous how in case you’re not an individual who makes me music or an individual who listens to a variety of music, you type of don’t even take into consideration all of the work that goes into making music. Or like, it’s simply exhausting to fathom the place the music is coming from. However I keep in mind, only recently she texted me that she listened to I Love My Mother all over on her audio system, and she or he was like, “I’m so embarrassed that I haven’t accomplished this ever.” She had by no means listened to it all over, which is what it’s meant for, you realize. However no, she hadn’t heard any of the music from both albums earlier than she painted the covers. I simply type of defined to her the imagery and she or he created it as greatest as she might. It was cool, as a result of the primary cowl, once I advised her what to color I had an concept of it in my thoughts and I actually considered the skeletons as bones, after which she created them with our bodies and I believed that was a cool iteration of that thought that I had. I simply love how unique the work are.
Did she let you know what she considered the album?
Yeah, she liked it. [laughs] She actually, actually liked it.
Whenever you requested her to color the duvet for I Love My Mother, did she know the title but?
No, I don’t assume she did. As a result of each of those titles I type of selected on the final minute. I type of can’t push myself to give you a title, it simply comes sooner or later.
You’ve talked about how the screams on ‘Actual Ache’ got here collectively, however I wished to ask you concerning the final part of the track. Did you all the time know that it might go on like that?
I all the time knew that it was going to go on. I believe the structural concept for that track got here earlier than the melodic model, so it was nearly like I used to be pondering of the track in shapes, the place it might like, be at this degree house after which it might dip down right into a cavernous house, after which explode into a really euphoric house. I knew that that’s what I wished to do, after which it was nearly forming these areas.
Do you usually consider songwriting in that form of spatial means?
I believe I do, yeah. It’s type of like, I give it some thought in many various methods all on the similar time, however I positively take into consideration them type of structurally once I begin writing.
The crowdsourced screams clearly come partly from a want to attach along with your viewers on this deep, significant means. In what different methods do you assume you may attempt to do this sooner or later?
I’m undecided, it’ll most likely by no means occur in the identical means ever once more. Particularly since these recordings have been from such a selected time within the pandemic, and it reached for those that have been all experiencing one thing collectively. However I like to seek out methods to contain folks if I can. It was simply so particular to do this, and I hope that I hear from extra individuals who had their screams within the track to see in the event that they just like the track or not. I used to be frightened about that, hoping that folks would really like it.
What number of have been there?
In all probability about like, nearly 60 recordings. And I used each single considered one of them. When you have been listening for years, you most likely couldn’t actually decide them out as a result of there’s so many stacked on one another. However they’re all in there.
What have you ever heard from the individuals who have reached out to you?
Oh, it’s such a humorous world. Like, thus far I’ve simply had folks tag me in an Instagram story the place they’re like, haha, my factor is on this track. [laughs] Nothing extremely deep but.
One thing that comes up in a variety of your interviews is the phrase “existential.” I used to be questioning what the implications of that phrase are for you – like, for you, what does it imply to assume existentially, or to reside existentially?
For me, it’s nearly being conscious of existence. Being conscious of being a human and never feeling as if I’m above that, or on the prime of some type of meals chain on the earth. And it’s concurrently the heaviest a part of my character and in addition probably the most light-giving a part of my character, as a result of it permits me to see everybody of their humanity and have compassion for them. And forgiveness for them, and in addition forgiveness for myself. As a result of it’s simply actually essential to really feel grounded and to do not forget that I’m very small and I do not know what’s happening, as a result of issues can really feel very giant and scary and out of my management. I believe if something, I’m simply centered on that type of energetic wavelength as a result of it simply saves me from the world. And it makes me actually unhappy to see different individuals who don’t join with one another extra deeply and simply type of dwelling on the surface-level house all the time, not even seeing themselves as a deeper character on the earth.
How do you assume folks can join extra deeply?
I don’t know. I believe that everybody has to come back to that on their very own, however I believe it simply begins from studying about your self and centering and discovering self-love. I believe as soon as you discover final self-love and forgiveness, then you definitely’re in a position to manifest the love that you simply deserve from different folks. And yeah, I don’t know, I want everybody might simply get up and realise that we’re all dying and that it’s a really unusual scenario we’re in and that we should always make the very best of it. However I do know that that can by no means occur in any type of grand scheme means. There’s too many individuals and too many individuals are utterly asleep.
I wished to ask you concerning the track ‘Means Out’. I didn’t have the lyrics for that one, so I wasn’t certain if it’s “I need to be a light-weight?” that you simply’re singing on the finish, or is it “alive”?
Yeah, it’s “I need to be a light-weight.” [laughs] After we’re enjoying it reside, that is actually goofy, however generally I’ll say, “I need a beer, I need a Bud Gentle.” However no, I’m saying, “I need to be a, I need to be a light-weight.” I believe one of many methods to assist folks open up and to share themselves in a extra full-spectrum type of means and to really feel accepted as themselves is to provide them house to do this. So I believe that it sort of feels like my place on the earth is to simply give folks the liberty to precise themselves absolutely in my presence and actually be sincere with me and actually present them themselves. I try this by simply doing that myself and displaying that it’s okay and that you simply don’t must be afraid to do this.
Have been you ever stunned through the making of the songs by how sincere you have been?
No, I’m by no means stunned. It’s taken me some time to get to the quantity of stability that I’ve now and the quantity of readability that I’ve now, however I’ve all the time been an oversharer. I’ve all the time wished to precise my emotions to folks. If something, I’m simply excited concerning the language that I exploit now, as a result of I really feel I’ve a broader concept of emotional language and learn how to specific myself emotionally.
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability and size.