Free-spirited Asheville singer-songwriter Indigo De Souza reflects on the loves, losses, and coming-of-age realizations that fueled her ambitious new record ‘Any Shape You Take.’
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In her twentysomething years on this planet, Indigo De Souza has been, and continues to be, many things. Loyal to no one genre or scene, her soul-baring artistry, and the overflowing emotions within every song are too vast to fit neatly into one box. No matter how she fluctuates as both an artist and a human being, she is always Indigo.
As we sit together on our screens from across the country, De Souza is much more introverted than her buoyant stage presence lets on. Soft-spoken and perhaps a little shy, she is a thoughtful conversationalist, nonetheless. When she asks you how you’re doing, she isn’t just going through basic pleasantries—I admit that I’m feeling groggy, to which she asks, “Groggy like you’re tired, or groggy like you’re sad?” with genuine concern. A Cancer to her core, she is just as empathetic in person as she is in her music.
Listening to an Indigo De Souza song feels like getting wasted and galivanting with your best friend on a warm, summer night in your youth, crying with them as they spill their guts to you, and hugging them so tightly you feel part of one another, ultimately returning to laughter despite it all. From painfully honest tales of young love and heartache (platonic and romantic alike) to charmingly self-deprecating existential monologues, De Souza’s confessions are equal parts party and catharsis.
Between danceable indie-rock anthems, soulful doo-wop, emo acoustic moments, and nostalgic bedroom pop beats, she creates a self-portrait made up of all the things that make her who she is—the epic highs and lows, the ever-colorful range inside her head and heart. It’s very easy to become friends with her music, to sink into it and absorb it all until you’re convinced you know her.
Stream: ‘Any Shape You Take’ – Indigo De Souza
“I don’t feel like I can relate to a lot of people. Like they can relate to me, but I can’t really relate to them,” De Souza admits. She lost sight of herself for a while, hitting a low point a few years ago as she bid her ex-bandmates farewell as they moved on to other projects, struggled with her mental health, and went through a drawn-out breakup with a longtime partner. Her world and the world at large flipped upside-down, she realized that there was no going back to how things were or who she was before. Desperately ready to move forward, she found her great release writing her sophomore record.
Like one big exhale, Any Shape You Take bids the sting of old wounds farewell, finding solace in the acceptance of change—one of the few, universal constants in life. With renewed clarity, De Souza grieves the inevitable losses that temporality promises while also celebrating every opportunity to love and love again. Grappling with the complexities of the lightness and darkness inside her, she oscillates between morbid self-deprecation, heart-achingly vulnerable admissions, and consoling affirmations, allowing herself to feel every emotion fully and lay them to rest.
A former hopeless romantic, De Souza first had to disentangle her identity from her past loves. “Before, love used to be this really dramatic thing for me,” she reflects. “Now there’s not so much weight to it, basically—it’s not about the huge emotions and abandonment issues anymore.” On “Kill Me,” she looks back on a self-destructive relationship sans rose-tinted lenses, riding the line between emotional nuance and all-out post-breakup angst with dark poetic jabs and hilariously frank self-awareness (her sing-song-y “No one asked me to feel this fucked up, but here I am—fucked up!” is especially charming).
She sobers up on the downtempo “Pretty Pictures,” as she comes to terms with the fact that it would be more loving and mature to end things when she knows her heart isn’t in it, rather than hurt the person in the long run. As the impulsivity of youth subsides with the lessons growing pains leave behind, the dust clears to reveal that true love is rooted in self-love and preservation. Sometimes the hardest decisions are the healthiest ones for all parties involved.
Listen: “Hold U” – Indigo De Souza
Finalities are so present in De Souza’s catalog not because she necessarily fears endings or death, but because loss connects us as human beings. “Existential thoughts and mortality are in me and my body so much, and loss is so much a part of all our lives because we will lose everything at some point,” she elaborates with calm composure. More than simply accepting this as the way things are, she is in awe of the profound beauty of the finite; even her most macabre songs are so full of life. At first palpably despondent on halfway point “Real Pain,” De Souza’s lone voice is swallowed by a sea of countless screaming voices (all of them were sent in by fans in various emotional states), crescendoing into a visceral healing experience—an act of communal suffering, creation, and solidarity that is nothing short of stunning. And with that, one painful ending becomes a promising new beginning.
Any Shape You Take marks a turning point in De Souza’s professional life, as well. It was her first time recording in a proper studio setting, and a valuable lesson in confidence to boot. “I learned a lot. [Producer] Brad Cook had so many toys and sounds for me to play with,” she says of her studio experience. Whereas she took more of a backseat while recording her first record I Love My Mom, De Souza’s Saddle Creek debut was fueled by her conviction in her vision as she stretched new creative muscles. “I would go and write parts for all the instruments at home, which was something I hadn’t done before,” she explains. “Everyone who worked on this record was so kind and made space for my ideas and vision.”
Aside from support from Cook and her new band (“I’m stoked for this tour, my bandmates and I are all just obsessed with each other”), De Souza teamed up with one of her most trusted collaborators, painter Kimberly Oberhammer—the cover artist for both I Love My Mom and Any Shape You Take, and her actual mother. “I had this vision, and I told my mom that I wanted [the album cover] to be an apocalyptic supermarket aisle,” De Souza recounts. “And then months later when the pandemic started, I went to the store and the toilet paper aisle was completely empty. I was pretty spooked.”
As she put more faith in her intuition, De Souza found a community unlike she’d ever known before. Abandoning the downcast indie scene she once ran in, she entered a new friend group that brought her into the light again. “We create safe spaces for people to be themselves. We try to spread joy and happiness wherever we are,” she gushes. The relationships she built with her new partners-in-crime transformed her soul as she reconnected with nature, her body, and herself—in many ways, Any Shape You Take wouldn’t have been the same without them. The pure love De Souza and her friends share with each other is a tangible force in the music video for the infectiously poppy and tenderly reassuring “Hold U,” where they throw a glittery dance party that ends in a huge cuddle puddle. “It’s the first time that I’ve felt held by other people,” she says. “They held space for me, and they continue to hold space for me as I change and grow.”
The concept of a destination in life is a mirage, so De Souza embraces a fluid, shape-shifting existence. Her newfound clarity is not so much a coming-of-age as it is a rejection of the concept itself—living is glorious, perpetual flailing, and there’s freedom to be had in losing control. “We never really grow up and become adults like we think we’re supposed to. All the ‘serious adults’ are just pretending, too.”
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📸 © Charlie Boss
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