Encompassing the full spectrum of emotions, Asheville-based Indigo De Souza is a natural storyteller who bears her soul on her upcoming album, Any Shape You Take. Writing music since the tender age of nine, De Souza self-released her first full length in 2018 and set out on a DIY path before garnering the attention of outlets like Paste Magazine and Pitchfork.
After having dinner with local Harvest Records’ store owner Mark Capon and now-manager Madelyn Anderson of Ten Atoms, De Souza obtained a better grasp on how the music industry functions and hired a music lawyer to aid in seeking out a record label for Any Shape You Take.
“Nothing really felt glaringly right until Saddle Creek,” she said in an interview with Ears to Feed. “They were seeing me as a real person and really had an understanding of mental health and the humanity of people behind art. They’re incredibly artist-friendly, kind, funny and real. I just fell in love with them and really felt like that was my place.”
In terms of acknowledging her mental health, De Souza emphasized it will always be an ongoing process, and at times a struggle in her life, but she has gained a greater concept of boundaries; both internally and in the people she surrounds herself with.
“The thing that’s really important and the thing I’ve gotten good at is just advocating for my needs,” she said. “I’ve become good at communicating how I’m feeling and letting people know what state I’m in, what I can achieve and what I feel like I don’t have the energy for.”
Titling her 2018 debut record I Love My Mom, De Souza gushed about the close-knit and loving relationship she has with her mother. “My mom has definitely been a big inspiration throughout my life,” she said. “She has colored the lens that I see the world in a very vibrant way.”
Despite the torment she received from her peers due to her family’s unconventional ways, De Souza maintains a fond and deep appreciation for her mother, especially as she’s gotten older. “Once I was out of the years of school in which I was bullied for our family being so eccentric, I realized how precious that difference is,” she lamented.
Moving from small town Spruce Pine, North Carolina, to Asheville, De Souza finished the rest of her junior and senior high school years while living with her sister. In a city known for its liberal and vibrant artistic community, De Souza established bonds with fellow artists, while generally enjoying crafting music on her own. “I’ve really only ever had one very magical collaborational energy with someone,” she stated. “Other than that, I’ve found it very hard to write in the same room as other people. But I like to collaborate in the recording process. It’s fun and keeps it fresh and gives me new ideas.”
Recorded in 2019 and produced by Brad Cook (Bon Iver, The War on Drugs) in 2020, Any Shape You Take is a transformative record that highlights the tenderness and vulnerability she keeps at the forefront of her lyrics. In her track “Real Pain” she includes audio clips of fans sending in recordings of screams and howls, culminating in the universal grief and loss we’ve all felt this past year, while “Hold U” embraces both the physical and psychological closeness of pure, unconditional love.
De Souza also reconciles with the existential notion of change throughout the album. “I take things less personally than I used to,” she reflected. “I’m still working on that and always will, but I think the act of letting things go and allowing things to happen — to accept those things and having compassion for yourself in a space when I’m feeling lost — helps the fluidity of change.”
While Any Shape You Take was written and recorded prior to the pandemic, she pointed out the learning lessons that she gained from the pandemic. “Coming back from the most extreme worldwide panic that I’d ever seen or felt, I had a new patience for things,” she said. “I had spent time alone and then came back into the world and made new friends and branched into this community lifestyle. Everything shifted in my ways of thinking.”
Despite being signed to Saddle Creek for some time, De Souza wasn’t able to announce their partnership until just recently because of the pandemic’s delaying consequences.
Her sophomore album that was released last Friday, paired with back to back record release shows at The Grey Eagle in Asheville, followed by a fall tour throughout the states pending the current outlook of Delta cases.
“I’m just going into it with a positive energy. I recognize that anything can happen and also that I have no idea what that could be,” she laughed. “I hope we can safely continue music. I think that we can, and I think that we will no matter what happens. Music isn’t going anywhere.”