Indigo De Souza’s Masterclass Of Clarity And Intention

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Indigo De Souza is in her car, taking a break from helping her mom move. She’s been digging up some old childhood memorabilia in the process, including letters addressed to her future self from kid Indigo. “There were ones like, ‘Why are we alive? Why do we die and where do we go and why am I here?’” she laughs. “It was so dark.”

There’s some similar existential grappling in her new album, All Of This Will End. It’s a record on which De Souza is honest and pretty matter-of-fact about the darkness, sadness, and trauma that color a lot of our lives. “Am I losing to the dark? Is it overtaking me?” she asks on “Losing.” “I’m not sure what is wrong with me, but it’s probably just hard to be a person feeling anything,” she admits on “Parking Lot.” On the title track, she movingly offers: “There’s only love, there’s only moving through and trying your best / Sometimes it’s not enough / Who gives a fuck? All of this will end.”

There is probably no better songwriter right now than Indigo De Souza when it comes to songs that sum up all the struggle and joy of being human. Across this album and her previous ones — 2018’s I Love My Mom and 2021’s Any Shape You Take — the Asheville, NC artist has cultivated an unassuming yet life-affirming viewpoint, in which unconditional love and kindness towards yourself and everyone else is the thing that will pull you through the hardship. And she sounds like no one else; she flits between heavy, grungy rock and ecstatic synth-pop, and she pulls her vocals to every corner of their range, often ending up in breathtaking places.

UPROXX last spoke to De Souza two years ago upon the release of Any Shape You Take — her debut for Saddle Creek — and since then life has been kind of a whirlwind. There’s been a lot of touring, a lot of press, but also some downtime in which she’s been deepening her connection to nature and her loved ones — “celebrating being alive and celebrating our bodies and dancing and making fires and making food outside,” she says. Below, read UPROXX’s conversation with her about her last couple years and All Of This Will End.

Do you still live in Asheville?

Yeah. It’s really great. I actually am just about to move into the country. I’ll have a big area of the woods and a creek to myself with my best friend, and we’re gonna have some animals. It’s all I’ve ever wanted, to just really sink into a piece of land and come to understand everything that nature is doing there.

There’s scary things happening right now in the South, particularly with regards to LGBT rights. How does it feel to live there at the moment, and more broadly how much do you identify with being from the South?

That’s a good question. Yeah, it’s funny ‘cause I love this place so much for a lot of reasons, and then I also hate it for a lot of reasons. But the reasons why I hate it, although they’re strong, feel like reasons why I shouldn’t abandon it. Because we can’t just leave places that have a lot of hate in them to just be filled with hate forever. There has to be people that care about the land and the space and creating communities that are safe for people that need it. And I think I just have fallen so in love with the nature and the trees and seeing the mountains and getting to swim in the rivers — it’s almost like I can just feel the land begging me to stay here. But yeah, I see some brutal things, that make me feel really scared of the people here sometimes. It can be really scary.

You’ve done a whole lot of touring over the last couple of years since Any Shape You Take. Is there anything you’ve learned from that, whether personally or creatively?

Yeah, I’ve learned a lot. Touring is crazy, and it’s very unsustainable. The music industry is extremely flawed in many ways. And I think over the course of the past two years I just kind of entered into a lot of harsh realities and saw the way that the industry works from the inside-out and was very not happy about a lot of parts of it. And I feel like it made me a lot stronger ‘cause I realized that it is kind of my place to stand up for things that need to be stood up for and to speak up and try to change things in the ways that I can. But other than the industry I love touring so much, and I love being with my bandmates and my crew, and I love playing shows to crowds that wanna be there.

Is there anything specifically that you’ve found disillusioning?

Mostly festivals, festivals really upset me. Because they are often about making money rather than being about art. They really just pull in all these acts that they know people will be really excited about, and then they don’t actually care about the artist, they don’t take care of them super well. Yeah, I think festivals are definitely getting to me. They’re tough. I just feel like a baby when I’m walking around them. They’re like, ‘Look at this, look at this! You wanna buy this? You wanna eat this? You wanna go in our TikTok tent?’ [Laughs] It’s weird.

Let’s talk about All Of This Will End. What kind of place were you in while writing it?

I was living alone and I had a lot of time on my hands because we were in lockdown. Everything was in this standstill, and I was watching all of the systems that I’d been surrounded by my whole life fall apart, and people that said they knew what they were doing didn’t know what they were doing. It felt like this huge veil was lifted off America, and we were just seeing everything for what it has been the whole time but it’s been hiding itself. It was just so ugly.

[Recent single] “Smog” was definitely related to that. Just having to navigate the world in the way that it was back then, and see the way people were reacting to the pandemic or not reacting to it was strange and uncomfortable and awkward. So yeah, that song was definitely just kind of a fever dream. I remember making it in my room when I was alone at night and just dancing around a lot, and realizing that I was kind of the only safe space that I had.

I think it just brought me a lot closer to myself and to my friends, and then all of those songs poured out in a weird way. I almost don’t even remember writing them that much. It’s kind of a blur because that time was kind of a blur.

Something I love about your songwriting is how it comes from a place of tenderness and kindness. But I feel like this album also has so much darkness and sadness in it. I’m interested in how you reconcile those viewpoints.

That’s interesting, ‘cause I think pretty much every other interview I’ve done so far they’ve said that they felt like this album was lighter than the last ones.

Really? Wow, maybe that says something about me.

[Laughs] Yeah, I think sometimes people hear it in the way they are feeling or they want to. But yeah, I mean, there will always be darkness in my songs. I can’t imagine there not being. Because the songs are kind of where the darkness comes out. I’m not dark when I’m out in the world, I’m actually pretty joyfuI and I just like to spread light wherever I go. It’s kind of like the songs are the safest place for me to be dark and say things that I wouldn’t just say in my day-to-day life.

So yeah, in some way the songs feel intense to me, but they also feel very confident and very certain and clear. I feel as I get older and older I get clearer and clearer in my mind. Because I have a lot of mental health issues, that is something that I’m very proud to say at this point, now I’m growing and getting a lot better. And I’m able to hear my thoughts and understand them and I have tools to navigate them in a way that I didn’t have before. And I think the music reflects that. It feels a lot less muddled to me and more straight and to the point.

Where would you say that clarity shows up?

I think it happens musically and lyrically. “Wasting Your Time” for example is extremely straight, and it just hits and all of the parts are very concise, but also very distorted and loud, and they feel messy but they’re perfectly where they need to be. But then also when it comes to lyrics, like, “You Can Be Mean” for example feels very angry, but also humorous, and as if I’ve already moved past that stage in my life. That song feels like a departure from the tendency to allow people into my life who treat me badly. So playing that song feels really great.

I wanted to ask about the album title, All Of This Will End. I feel like there are a lot of themes of anxiety about the future and things changing on this album, and I’m interested in how it relates to that.

I think the title felt really beautiful to me, because those words kind of change for everyone, depending on who you are and the way that you’re perceiving it. You could see it as something really dark and heavy. But there’s also a really positive way to look at it, which is that once you come to an acceptance that everything is going to end and stop spending time feeling so torn up about it, then you’re able to move forward pouring intention and care into your life, because you understand the preciousness of it and the fleetingness of it.

And yeah, I liked the title because that’s kind of something that I’ve come to learn. And it’s why my mental health has gotten a lot better, because I basically flipped from one side to the other. Like I used to be very upset about that and couldn’t really let go of it. Since I was really little it always bothered me, the fact that we’re just alive to die. And then when I started to really feel involved in my community and to feel seen by people in the world and understood in a way that I hadn’t been before, I suddenly started to feel more positive about being alive. It’s such a fire under my ass, that thing, All Of This Will End. Not only do I care so much about my own life, but I care so much about what I can do to bring joy and meaning to other people’s lives.

You’re able to approach topics like that in such a soothing way. What does it mean to you to approach those ideas with patience and acceptance instead of anger or grief?

The crazy part is, I think it doesn’t look like anything very large. All it looks like is every day waking up and doing everything that I do with care and intention. Every conversation I have with a human being, every choice that I make about what I’m doing with my day, every piece of merch that I put out, every song that I write, everything that I write online for people to read, I always pour so much intention into everything. I think I just at some point realized that there’s no point in doing things if they’re not for good.

All Of This Will End is out on April 28 via Saddle Creek. Get it here.