Indigo De Souza on overcoming shyness, crowdsourcing screams, and her mom

In her two albums, I Love My Mom, and her more recent release, Any Shape You Take, indie artist Indigo De Souza bares her raw emotions with the world. But, as the name of her first album implies, she wouldn’t be sharing them as a musician if it wasn’t for the help and encouragement she received from her first and biggest fan: her mom.

“She’s been inspiring all my life, and she’s so creative,” says De Souza. “She pushed me really hard especially when I was in the phase of writing music and still feeling too shy and embarrassed to share my music. She was always there to push me through it and encourage me to do it. Without that encouragement from her I wouldn’t be where I am now.” 

As a shy kid, music was a revelation to De Souza. It provided a medium through which she could share her voice and connect with other humans on an intimate level.

“I realized that people can hear songs and enter an emotional space with you, the writer,” says De Souza. “Just seeing the way that it affected people when they were listening in the audience was definitely a life-changing moment for me when I was young. I got addicted to the experience of sharing songs, and it felt like a way to connect to people through my shyness. Singing songs for people that are brutally honest and about my raw feelings is a way to connect to large groups of people.”

De Souza will be sharing her raw and honest emotions on Feb. 26 at the Stone Pony, when she opens up for another artist who isn’t afraid of doing the same, Lucy Dacus. 

De Souza’s genre-defying album Any Shape You Take was quietly one of the better releases in 2021. De Souza worked with producer Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee) for the album.

“It was definitely a bigger production than my first album,” says De Souza. “My first album was pretty DIY and was recorded in someone’s living room and bedroom. This new album was a step up production-wise, and I had a lot of resources that I never had before. It was cool ,and it was my first experience with other people producing with me, and I learned a lot.

With the expanded production for Any Shape You Take, De Souza had access to instruments that weren’t available to her in previous recordings, of which she took advantage.

“There were a lot of synths and keyboards that I never had access to,” says De Souza. “There were also a lot of resources within the actual engineering world that I have never seen before. Even with the computer, it felt like there was a lot that we could do with how we could shape the album.”

The access to different instruments and different production tools can be heard in Any Shape You Take, on no song as apparently as “Real Pain.” De Souza requested that fans send her recordings of them screaming, and in the song, she layered the voices together.

“That song was really satisfying to bring to fruition,” says De Souza. “It felt like the first time I accurately portrayed my belief that in order to move through pain you have to feel it all and give it the attention it deserves. The song is about that and it just felt necessary to collect people’s voices representing pain and stack them all together and expose a collective experience of pain. Especially with the timing because it was mid-pandemic when I recorded it. It felt really special to give space to people to let out their emotions.”

Another song that captures De Souza’s raw emotions is “Pretty Pictures,” a song about a recent breakup.

“With ‘Pretty Pictures’ I was going through a breakup with someone that I loved a lot, and it was better for the both of us that we separate, but we loved each other a lot so it was a difficult decision,” says De Souza. “It was a hard decision to make, and I think a lot of people have gone through something like that.”

In addition to the expanded production capabilities, the second album also displays De Souza’s growth as a musician.

“With I Love My Mom it was more DIY and I never actually played with a band before, and it was my first time getting used to that,” says De Souza. “With this new album I felt like I had developed myself a lot more in a live setting, and the recording process felt more natural and I felt like I had grown a lot.”

Concert-goers can see De Souza and the custom jumpsuits that her mom made for her on Feb. 26 at the Stone Pony when she opens up for a Lucy Dacus (who will perform from a couch after suffering two herniated discs). 

De Souza has missed touring because of the pandemic, and the structure and routine that touring provides. 

“I hate sitting around and not being on tour,” says De Souza. “Tour is really important to me because it provides a lot of structure and otherwise I feel aimless and insane. I like having a schedule, and having responsibilities and places to be.”

As a native of Asheville, De Souza is a lover of the outdoors and the scenery that the North Carolina town provides. Even though De Souza hasn’t spent too much time in the Garden State, she did partake in an outdoor activity last time she was here. 

“We went swimming and paddleboarded,” says De Souza. “We definitely won’t be doing that now in February, but we’re excited to come to Jersey.”

Indigo De Souza will be opening up for Lucy Dacus at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park on Feb. 26. Ticket information can be found here.