Get to Know: Indigo De Souza
Radio Milwaukee’s stations introduce you to new artists every day. This is your chance to learn a little more about them beyond what you hear on our playlists. Consider it a meet-and-greet, CliffsNotes and elevator pitch all rolled into one.
Indigo De Souza feels so damn relatable, and that natural, everyday human push and pull of emotions (as well as the disorientation that follows) is on full display on her latest album, All of This Will End.
Not every artist can express growing pains, confusion and dread quite as beautifully as De Souza. She easily threads childhood memories into her ever-shifting adult existence, and the fabric of her songs stretch and bend as she grows and moves through life. All of This Will End (get it on Bandcamp here) takes mortality head-on, sharing remedies like the simple act of reaching out to your immediate community to share this unified reality and gain support, hope and joy.
On this latest record, the resident of Asheville, N.C., honed her home-recording skills while marooned in an apartment during the pandemic. Her swooping and expressive vocals break from those confines and are on full display with lovely layers as she moves between cathartic elements of fuzzy indie guitar rock and synth-y dance-pop.
De Souza caught up with 88Nine before taking on the enviable task of traveling the country with Sylvan Esso for their “No Rules Tour.” She talked about how she found music as an essential form of expression as a child, what North Carolina means to her and what she does to stay inspired.
What was on the home turntable or radio in your house, growing up?
I remember my mom listening to Tracy Chapman, Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan …
What was the first instrument you picked up?
Guitar, for sure. My dad plays guitar.
You began writing songs at quite a young age. Did your family write songs as well, or were there peers that inspired you?
I don’t really remember why I decided to try writing my own songs. I think that I was maybe just inspired by the existence of songs in general. I just knew I wanted to make my own, and songwriting ended up being a really important space for emotional processing, especially because I was a mostly lonely child and didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.
What's the story behind "indigofaraway," your social handle?
There is no story really! It’s what I chose as my handle when Instagram first came out, and then it just stuck with me through all platforms. I remember having Instagram on my iPod, and it just blew my mind.
You grew up in Asheville. How did growing up there influence you as a person?
I mostly grew up in a small town outside of Asheville called Spruce Pine, and then in my later teens I moved into the city. Asheville definitely saved me from that small town. I am grateful to have branched out in some way while I still had the chance.
It’s hard to say how things influence someone, you know? Life just takes hold in the way it does. We just go where we’re going and shift around, depending. I think one of the main things that has ended up being really integral to who I am is the nature here. It has taught me so much and aided me in finding a community that can truly hold me in all my forms.
Have you collaborated with other North Carolina-based musicians? And is the scene pretty supportive there? It seems so.
Yes, some! All of my friends are creatives, whether visually, musically or movement based. I know so many great thinkers, too — deep thinkers and strong hearts. My community is definitely incredibly supportive. I am kind of in a bubble, though, I think. I don’t find myself out in the live-music circuit that much. I’ve never really enjoyed going to live shows.
What city/cities do you currently call home? What brought you there?
I suppose Asheville is my home. My friends bring me there. My community and my family. The trees and animals, bird songs, creeks and barns. That strong southern, queer underground and full-heartedness of the mountains. I just feel very committed to western North Carolina and learning about it forever.
What's your favorite venue in your current city and why?
I like the Orange Peel. The staff is incredibly sweet, and they care a lot. Our front of house / sound person (Sunset Appleton) works there when they’re not on tour with us.
Besides music, what's something you do to keep yourself inspired (and sane)?
I love to dance and paint and cook and roll around laughing with my friends. I love to sit around a fire. I love to be outside hanging out with the trees and swimming in the creeks.
What has home recording lent to your musical ear? When did you start experimenting with home recording, and what tools did you have at your disposal?
I like using Logic Pro to flesh out ideas for songs. I’ve recorded on my own since I was very young. My mom got me a four-track tape recorder when I was 9. Technology has never come very easy to me, but I feel like I make a lot of happy accidents when I follow my intuition.
Your new album, All of This Will End, sounds bigger and different from your previous releases. What inspirations, thoughts or events influenced that shift?
I think that shifts within my art always come from shifts within my person. I have grown a lot and have become more certain, less inhibited as time goes on. I think my sound will always be changing just as I am.
"Smog" came from a place where you were learning to feel comfortable living on your own with the added twist of a global pandemic. What was the biggest comfort during that time? I can imagine feeling lonely and/or anxious.
I adopted my dog during that time, and I remember that decision changing the patterns in my life in a way that was super helpful and clarifying. He became my best friend and is always so sweet to have around when I’m writing.
I remember my first living-alone experience in my 20s and that, eventually, you realize that living alone is pretty great and not a luxury you'll always have. Do you feel like you could have created the same record without access to so much alone time? How do you plan to remain dedicated to your creativity and creative space once things shift?
I don’t think I would have made the same record if I hadn’t been in that specific moment in my life. And I’m always dedicated to creation. I can’t help it. It’s a part of me that doesn’t turn off.
Who is your biggest inspiration, musician or otherwise?
Arthur Russell is probably my biggest musical influence. And my roommate and best friend Shannon is probably my biggest inspiration in life. She is so insanely strong and is a powerful student of life.
What's in store for you this summer, music or otherwise?
Music! And friends! Art! Swimming and talking by the water, building little fires, dancing … all of it!