Indie rock sensation Indigo De Souza is on the phone, gearing up for a busy debut show at South By Southwest, where she’s scheduled to perform five times over two days, along with a full lineup of photoshoots and interviews. But in the days leading up to the madness, she and her band devoted their Texas trip to recreation.
“We were at this Airbnb this morning sitting in a hot tub,” she says, speaking of her new experiences with Texas’ wide-open blue skies and forever-going roads. “We were talking about how some people feel claustrophobic when there are lots of trees around and some people don’t. It depends on who you are and where you grew up.”
Being from Asheville, North Carolina, De Souza says a dense, virtually temperate rainforest environment is the only one he has ever known.
“Green everywhere, you can’t really see through it, but it makes me feel really safe because I can hide in the forest and I can just go on a trip and no one will see me,” she says with a pause. “I also like open spaces, but it’s more foreign to me.”
De Souza will return to North Texas for a show at Fort Worth’s Tulips on Saturday, March 18, as part of the Southside Spillover music series. This follows her Dallas debut last August as part of Courtney Barnett’s Here and There touring festival.
De Souza has received acclaim from the indie sphere for his colourful, intense and personal brand of indie rock. She made a splash in 2021 with her second album Whatever form you takeand is currently scheduled to release its follow-up record All of this will end on April 28. This fast-moving musical process is integral to De Souza’s musical process, which is relentlessly kinetic.
“I think probably everyone does it differently, but the way I write records isn’t linear,” he says. “I don’t write a record while I’m recording it or just before I record it. All the records I had just written over a period of time while on tour [or] when I’m at home, between moments. Eventually there’s an open window where we record the songs, but it’s more like I sit with the songs for about a year before we actually record them, and then once I’ve recorded them, it takes another year before I that album comes out, so I sort of get over them and start writing more songs.
De Souza says her process creates a strange kind of gap between the songs she’s performing and the songs that emerge from her psyche.
“Once I’m on an album tour, I already have a new record I want to record,” he says. “It’s a really fun cycle. For example, right now I have a handful of new songs, secret songs, songs that I want to record for the next album. But I don’t play them live because they’re not relevant right now.”
While most artists have a penchant for creating new material live, De Souza says the songs he’s written aren’t performed until they’re performed behind closed doors, with good reason.
“It would bother me,” she says. “People take videos and post things online and I’m like, ‘Oh, I have a recording of this new song that I’m going to put on YouTube.’ And I think it’s more comfortable to keep new songs private because of the way people can latch on to them prematurely. It seems more appropriate for me to play the album I’m about to release. Which is really fun because I haven’t toured in, like, months, and now I’ve got new people in my band and new gear, and it’s really fun to play.
“One crowd that can often feel unwell is the college crowd … We’ve been paid to go play in college, but not everyone knows who we are. It’s more like they’re just college students [and] their school paid us to be their entertainment for the night.” – Indigo De Souza
The protectiveness with which Indigo De Souza treats her songs is extraordinary. Much like his adventures in areas of his native forest, hearing De Souza’s songs feels both incredibly personal and just out of reach, like a dream. His emotional intelligence and intuition are on display in both his music and conversational skills.
His rather new status as a traveling artist has led to a number of surprises along the way that have resulted in some insightful wisdom. At one point she warns the audience of radiating an “evil energy”.
“One crowd that often doesn’t feel good is the college crowd,” he says. “We were paid to play in college, but not everyone knows who we are. It’s more like they’re just college students [and] their school paid for us to be their entertainment for the night. So, then we’re on stage and we’re performing these songs that are hyper personal, but there’s a crowd of rowdy, drunk college students who really don’t care.
“Maybe there’s like 10 that care, and those are the ones that carry me on. But other than that, they might be drunk. We’ve had people like yelling sexual stuff at us and we just have to keep playing because we’ve been booked to play, can be like a really evil energy.
Thankfully, De Souza says that as the touring life has picked up steam, she and her band have been playing more and more headlining shows where the audience is specifically there for her personal brand of songwriting.
“If it’s people who are there to see me specifically and then it brings about sort of a joyful feeling,” she says, “because those people, my fans, are really, really nice to me.”