Indigo De Souza Is Doing It For Her Fans

Fueling the singer-songwriter's vulnerable, impassioned, and relatable lyricism is a fan base going through the exact same things.

By Alex Jhamb Burns

Photo by Levi Saderholm


Projecting onto art is part of the human experience. When I listen to indie rock musician Indigo De Souza’s songs, I can’t help but think about the experiences in my life that her lyrics speak to. In her latest album, “All Of This Will End,” amid the soundscape of wailing lap steel and her whispering falsetto, the consolation of her lyrics is that there is no consolation. Sometimes, she is feeling everything. Sometimes, she thinks nothing at all. She writes about the disappointment of letting a vile man touch her body, eating too much when she’s lonely, and the general ennui that arises from being a feeling person in our capitalist society – and what’s more relatable than all of that?

I sat down with Indigo in a green room before their recent show at Brooklyn Steel to talk about what it’s like to spawn such potent emotional content and then go on stage every night and perform it. A couple of hours before going on stage, she seems calm, if even relaxed, as we take seats on opposite ends of the couch. She is wearing a t-shirt, the same one she will wear on stage later that night, from a label called Jump Rope Studio, and I ask her about the tattoos that trickle down her forearms and onto her hands, her knuckles spelling out H-O-M-E. The creative that they are, they explain that they have a tattoo machine in their home and most of their tattoos are self-drawn.

As an artist who writes pretty explicitly about angst and the broken-hearted condition, Indigo has been transparent on her Instagram about her own mental health struggles. In one post, which features a slide of a teary-eyed Indigo, they write, “I will hold the wounded child parts of myself, on my own.” She wants her fans to really see her.

Alex Jhamb Burns: How are you feeling about being back on tour?

Indigo De Souza: I have mixed feelings about it. Touring is generally really hard for me. I would rather be home and within my community and my house and just within a routine. Touring can pull me out of my stability a little bit. But at the same time, it also feels really important and special to me to play for people who are as broken-hearted as the people that come to my shows are. I think I have gotten better at it over time, just from doing it so much. And I’ve created a lot of tools to be sane while I’m on the road.

Alex: What kinds of tools do you have?

Indigo: Well, I brought my dog this time!

Alex: Oh! Is your dog here?

Indigo: Yeah, she’s in the other green room. Her name is Frankie. It’s been nice having Frankie, especially when I’m in the hotel rooms. For some reason, hotel rooms make me feel very alone, and it’s been nice to wake up and have my dog there.

Alex: I want to speak with you about your Instagram presence. You’ve posted captions that explicitly speak to your mental health struggles and images of you crying. I am curious about your relationship to sharing on social media and whether it is for you, your loved ones, or your fans.

Indigo: If I didn't have fans, I don’t think I would be posting anything. Like I wouldn’t be posting for my friends or family or for myself, really, but because I have the responsibility of being a public figure, I take that very seriously. I am drawn to being very transparent and honest with my audience because that is the role model I want to be. And I feel like many people that listen to my music are young, so I just try to give them the most raw, honest version of myself because I think that is what I want my kids to be consuming. I’m not trying to show a presence that is not who I am.

“I have the responsibility of being a public figure, I take that very seriously. I am drawn to being very transparent and honest with my audience because that is the role model I want to be.”

Alex: Have you always been comfortable doing that?

Indigo: I think maybe there was a time when I was younger and more calculated. And then as things took off more—I mean, it's not like they’ve taken off that much in the grand scheme of things—but yeah, just having anybody pay attention to what I’m doing feels like a great responsibility. And I’m aware that a lot of the people who follow me are going through similar things, so it feels important to talk about it.

Alex: Earlier, you mentioned how touring is hard. What do you do on days or in moments when you really don’t feel like going on stage?

Indigo: Yeah, I have a lot of nights like that, and I have pretty extreme stage fright, too. Something that I’ve noticed helps a lot as I’ve gotten older and the more popular the music has gotten is that now, when I’m on stage, I have my eyes closed most of the time. Because I can’t look out at the scene and pay attention to what’s happening or how many people are out there. And so, except to look at my guitar, I mostly have my eyes closed.

Alex: I’ll be watching that tonight.

Indigo: And I won’t be seeing you [laughs]. But I’m still figuring it out. The answer is that sometimes I won’t want to go onstage and the thing is that I just do.

“I’m aware that a lot of the people who follow me are going through similar things, so it feels important to talk about it.”

Alex: I have to ask as a fellow curly-haired individual, I’ve seen you go through various hair phases, and I want to know about your relationship with your hair. Do you ascribe meaning to it?

Indigo: I mean, it’s not very original of me, but I definitely have a tendency to change my hair when I am going through a crisis. It almost makes me emotional because I am actually so sad that my long hair is gone but I just cut it off in a crisis and then cut it off more a month later and then it was all gone. So I’m starting over again and it’s gonna take a while, which it sounds like you can relate to that journey. It almost feels like experiences get caught up in my hair. Cutting it off is so cathartic.

Alex: It really is. Before we go, what is making you happy right now?

Indigo: Honestly, what has been making me really happy on this tour is how cohesive and sweet everyone has been. We’ve enjoyed hanging out together and playing games, and it has felt simple. I don’t know if it is obvious from the outside, but I’ve gone through a lot of changes with people in my touring party in terms of who’s playing with me, who’s a part of my team and who’s managing me. It has been more complicated in the past so that is making me happy.

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