Indigo De Souza Loves You No Matter What You’re Wearing
The last time Indigo De Souza performed in Utah, the coronavirus was declared a national emergency the very next day; the Kilby Court crowd was none the wiser. De Souza’s powerhouse performance was cemented in my memory as the last live show I attended before the world devolved into a state of pandemic panic.
A lot has changed for De Souza since then. She moved into a new home—a renovated church outside of Asheville, North Carolina—and surrounded herself with new friends. She released her second and third studio albums and headlined tours through North America and Europe. She played sets at Bonnaroo, Firefly and SXSW. Her live band is now made up of completely different people. Her listeners on Spotify topped 1 million.
In light of these accomplishments, De Souza is excited to perform for her Utah fans as a more seasoned musician at the Kilby Block Party this weekend. “So much about music, the way I perform and the way I think about a live show has changed,” she says to me over Zoom on a Friday morning. We both sip from mugs of drip coffee. “It always feels good to return to a place because I have gotten better, in my mind, at what I do.”
Since the last time she played in Utah, De Souza has, in fact, gotten better—or, the world has just woken up to her talent. In preparation for the April release of her latest album, All of This Will End, nearly every major music publication ran a profile on her: Rolling Stone, Paste, DIY, UPROXX, Consequence of Sound. De Souza’s manager recently told her that she’s never worked with an artist who agrees to so many interviews. Still, when asked how she balances all the attention, De Souza claims that “it doesn’t really feel like anything.”
“It’s hard to make the internet feel like something. It’s just a screen,” she elaborates. “I don’t think it will feel like anything until I feel incredibly stable in my career—until I can support everyone I love financially.”
This perception of success perfectly illustrates just how community minded De Souza is. “Does anyone want to just pool all our money and buy a huge plot of rural land and build a self-sustaining paradise commune[?]” she asked in a May 2020 tweet. That dream is inching toward reality, she tells me, as she just purchased a remote plot of land in western North Carolina.
“I want to create a creative community space in nature where people can record music or dance or create artwork,” she says. It’s the only thing she wants to accomplish before she dies: “Have a compound where people can engage in creativity in a really carefree way, where they don’t have to pay for it and they can take as much time as they want.”
“The songs [on All of This Will End] came from a space of isolation, but also a space of great shift and change.”
What would you like to do before you die? It’s an intimidating question, but De Souza is no stranger to creative contemplations on mortality. “You ask me what I think about this / Is there even a reason for it / I don’t have answers—no one does / I’ve been finding comfort in that,” she sings on the title track of All of This Will End. Many of her new songs contain this glimmer of hope. Despite the loss of her old friends (“All my friends are leaving or trying on new faces,” she sings in “Losing”) and coping with an absent father (“Father / I thought you’d be here / I thought you’d try / I thought you’d stay,”from “Always”), De Souza shifts noticeably toward optimism with her latest releases. Instrumentally, this manifests as hints of pop laced joyfully throughout her signature angst.
“The songs [on All of This Will End] came from a space of isolation, but also a space of great shift and change,” De Souza says. Impermanence might take the crown as her ultimate muse, and she contemplates its power in her spare time, especially as it relates to nature. “There was a moment when I realized that parking lots were not there from the beginning,” she says about the song “Parking Lot.” “Someone literally put pavement on top of a natural thing that was already there. That’s always been really haunting to me, especially in parking lots that are falling apart and have cracks with grass trying to grow through them.”
De Souza likely empathizes with this willful act of nature. As a queer, mixed-race youth raised in the small, conservative town of Spruce Pine, North Carolina, oppressive systems and perceived “otherness” caused her to be very internal from a young age. “The closed mindedness of that small town pushed me to be with myself when I was a kid,” she says. “I’ve been realizing that, in my teenage years, I lost that closeness to myself. Now, I’m in a space again of trying to reconnect with whatever it was that I lost.”
Her advice for others that are trying to do the same? “Really listen to yourself. Hear what you need and then actually lean into it,” she says. “And, if things are causing you to feel misunderstood, unseen and uncared for, it’s okay to let go of those things and just sink into yourself. Once you are caring for yourself in the way that you deserve, you will naturally end up finding those people who treat you with care and celebrate you.”
Celebrating others and making them feel cared for is something De Souza does well—even for people she’s never met. It’s one of the many reasons why fans turn to her music, I think. “Honey, you don’t have time / To change your clothes again / The world will love you no matter what you’re wearing,” she sings in “Not My Body.” The lyrics, like those in many of her songs, feel like a hug, like a like-minded community far from the city, like the warmth of the sun that encourages blades of grass to grow, against all odds, through cracks in the asphalt.
Read Mekenna Malan’s review of Indigo De Souza’s Any Shape You Take as part of our year-end coverage from 2021:
Top Five Powerhouse Femme Indie-Alt Albums of 2021: Indigo De Souza – Any Shape You Take
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