Name: Indigo de Souza
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, producer
Current release: Indigo de Souza's Any Shape You Take is out via Saddle Creek.
Recommendations: I highly recommend Arthur Russel’s album Iowa Dream. And Happyness’s Album Weird Little Birthday.
If you enjoyed this interview with Indigo de Souza, visit her website. Or check out her profiles on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and bandcamp.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started writing songs when I was 9 years old and started performing around age 11.
I took guitar lessons for a little while and then continued learning from YouTube. My mom gave me a 4 track tape recorder for my birthday when I was very young and I recorded on that a lot. Then, when I was older, I used a program on our family computer. The first three records I owned were Elliot Smith, frank Sinatra, and Mumford and Sons. I also listened to Regina Spektor and Jack Johnson a lot.
I think I was always drawn to music and sound. I can’t really remember a time when I began feeling drawn to it. It was just always part of me.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I wrote songs in a more traditionally structured way when I first started playing. I remember learning standard folk songs from my guitar teacher and modeling my own songs after those structures. My thinking about songs and lyrics changed drastically when I was later introduced to underground rock and indie music.
I was also heavily influenced a very special artist friend in my life who taught me that there are no limits to the ways in which I can write. I am allowed to explore anything that feels true. There is no structure.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity? What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I don’t know that I am ever really dwelling in my sense of identity very much, though I’m sure it has some kind of influence.
When I wrote I love my mom I actually think I barely had an identity at all because I had almost completely disappeared into a very heavy and turbulent relationship. I guess that’s kind of classic though --- writing from a place of deep pain. Pain is very inspirational!
I don’t really know if I’ve had many creative challenges though. Maybe just that sometimes I don’t write for a while, and that can feel scary. But it always comes back, so I just try not to pressure myself or feel down about that.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
I first recorded on a four track tape recorder, then moved to Garage Band, and now use Logic Pro X. I really love Logic because it is very user friendly and has an extensive sound library and really good loops. Loops are helpful for me because I don’t have a drum set. I also use an old drum machine that used to be connected to an organ.
I am definitely very inspired when I get a new instrument to play with. The energy from a new instrument often aids in my writing process and brings forth new songs.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about Ideas?
I don’t really collaborate that much! Though I’d like to do it more. It is such a sensitive thing to engage in and can feel really challenging at times. I have loved it when I have tried though because it pushes my musical brain to new places when I am working with another person’s musical tendencies.
I definitely prefer to work with other people in person so that I can fully feel all their energy and lock into some kind of flow.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I don’t have a regular schedule at all! I am just kind of a flailing human being. I feel so different everyday, and just move from thing to thing based on how I feel.
Music just happens when it happens. I never force it or plan it really.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint any breakthrough work specifically, though during the pandemic I wrote a lot of new songs and felt very productive in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. I was living alone and had a lot of space to be with my own thoughts. I began writing in a way that felt different than before.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I think my ideal state of mind for writing is usually just a very raw place of emotion that is coming directly from my heart. I can never really choose when I enter that space, but it helps to listen to my own voice in headphones and to just kind of zone out with some droning keyboard sounds.
I also make a lot of voice memos in my phone throughout the day. Sometimes I will enter a creative space when I listen back to those and have time to really sit with them.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Music has absolutely been a source of healing for me! Even just tracing back to my youth when I was bullied a lot in school and felt very alienated. Music gives people a safe space to express anything and feel anything without being judged. It also allows for people to feel closer to themselves and their experiences.
I am very grateful to have the chance to play music as a career. It has always been the only thing that really makes sense to me.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I really enjoy music videos! And have made a couple lately. I am a very visual person and I love the endless playground that music and video bring when combined. I am excited to make more videos and play with imagery that I see in my mind when I hear music.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I’m always learning! I am grateful to be making art and making a living. So far I have felt that it can sometimes be strange to mix business with something so spiritual. I really just try to stay as centered and as present with myself as I possibly can.
I have a really wonderful team behind me and they truly respect my journey in such a way that allows me a safe space to experience this whole thing with genuine support that is loving and kind.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Music is special because it brings people together and gives them something to relate to and process their feelings through. I think it’s very linked to mortality in the way that it can connect people who may otherwise not have anything in common, or may not see the world in a similar perspective.
Music is beyond words. It is a feeling.