Interview: Indigo De Souza

by Jo Higgs

The Saddle Creek signee’s new record, Any Shape You Take, provides an inspiring statement of growing self-confidence

‘Refreshing’ is a term perhaps bandied around too often with reference to upcoming artists – even to the extent that it becomes ironically stale. Nonetheless, Indigo De Souza is refreshing, both as a personality and a creator of music. 

Off the back of I Love My Mom from 2018, Any Shape You Take, De Souza’s label-debut with Saddle Creek, is in many ways grown from the same rich soils. ‘I think that every album I make is a companion album as they all come from my life,’ she says, ‘but, in the future, they will feel almost like they’re from a different universe.’ I Love My Mom is undoubtedly a glorious gem of a record, but the production value of Any Shape allows De Souza’s songwriting to blossom in the most wonderful of ways. ‘The first one was recorded in a bedroom and a living room,’ she laughs. ‘I was brand new to playing with a band, and even to the idea that I would make albums. It was all very new. With this album, I wanted to go to the other end of the spectrum and be as big and fancy as I could because I knew what it was like to have limited resources. I wanted to know what it would be like to have all the resources!’ 

Real Pain presents a particularly notable moment of production as the final part of the song is crisply jump started after a period of demonic screams – all tangled together in a prickly thicket of noise. De Souza says she ‘wanted it to feel just as it’s become the most torturous sound you’ve ever heard followed by a really pure release,’ – a catharsis of sorts that reconciles the mordacious suffering that preceded it. 

Writing music seems, on face value, a pretty good method of escapism – at least for most. The dreariness of everyday life being evaporated by intensive self-realisation complemented by equally expressive music sounds like the journey to a safe haven, but De Souza thinks in a different way. ‘When I’m writing a song, I have to completely engage with whatever feeling I’m feeling and be very present with it and face it,’ she says. ‘It’s often very emotional and hard to engage with that. So when I avoid writing songs for a while, that’s when I feel more like I’m escaping from myself and my reality.’ Despite not forming quite the escapism for her that it likely does for those that work 9-5 and play music in their spare moments, De Souza says ‘Writing songs is the only thing that really makes sense to me, so there’ll be a lot more of that before I die.’ She goes on to reveal that she has already written her next album, and further mentions through laughter, ‘it’d be impossible to really keep up with recording all the songs that I write, and putting them out when they’re relevant to me.’

For months now, interviewers have reluctantly brought up the pandemic, usually with a pre-question caveat of apologising for the cliché of it. This interview was no different, but De Souza’s response truly embodied the breath of fresh air she brings to the musical world (not to demean all the tragedy of the last while): ‘I can’t really think of any ways it changed anything musically; if anything, it’s probably the biggest thing, for me, that it didn’t change.’ She continues ‘I maybe became more focussed and independent than I had been before though. I got to learn more about recording and stuff.’

Acknowledging how freaky it is, she laughs off the similarities between the artwork her mother, Kimberly Oberhammer, created for Any Shape You Take, and the barren scenes of shop aisles witnessed in the opening weeks of the pandemic. She says the concept for the album cover ‘came to me in a vision like when I was writing,’ and then months later, ‘I remember being in a grocery store after everyone had cleared out the toilet paper and everything. It was so spooky’. 

Any Shape You Take is a wonderful project – unaffected by the gruesome world it was born out of – just as De Souza’s gradually growing self-confidence sees her unperturbed by the opinions of others. 

This interview was first published in Zine 10 – for more details click here.

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