Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett is kind of the trendsetter for slacker inspired folk-rock right now, and where there’s smoke, there’s fire. By no means am I throwing Izzy True onto that fire, but chances are, if you’re into Courtney, you’ll be into Izzy.
Izzy True is the new project of Trumansburg, NY singer-songwriter Isabel Reidy who fronted The Realbads (with her brother Silas). She is signed to the excellent Don Giovanni Records who released her debut 6-song EP, Troll, on June 30.
There are elements of Ms. Barnett, and say Jenny Lewis, Colleen Green, and maybe even Aimee Mann in what Izzy is doing, but she also seems to draw from the 90s indie pop punk of Yo La Tango or Death Cab For Cutie, especially on the latest single Absolute Troll. Izzy has fine lyrical chops and you can almost picture her lying on her bed in her parents house, jotting down each verse in a pink journal, in a room surrounded by Throwing Muses posters (even though she’s only 22…).
Oh, she also has an ear for a great hook. A couple of these songs have been stuck in my head for days.
Isabel is not just a one trick pony. An accomplished comic artist, she created her own video for the EP’s standout track – Swole. Definitely an artist to watch.
We asked Izzy about her creative process, time travelling, and what would happen if her house was on fire.
People say I sound like….
?? Ah, this is weird to answer?? I’ve gotten Cat Power, which is a very nice thing to say but I don’t think it’s true.
I am originally from…
How did you decide to become a singer/songwriter?
I have a really musical family and have a deep-seated need for the approval and love of other people.
Tell us about your work as a comic artist.
Making comics is fun and righteous!!! Art is EXTRA useless when it’s inaccessible, I like comics because they are for everyone.
Is there a correlation between drawing/painting and writing music? Do you use the same creative process?
The comics and the music all get swirled into each other. Sometimes I write music about my characters, or try to make a comic visually reflect the sound of a song. I never know what either are about when I’m working on them, it’s only later when I look or listen back that I can see what I was doing. I’m not very aware of how I’m feeling most of the time, sometimes the only way I can figure it out is by looking back at what I’ve made.
Are you more confident putting your art out there, or your music?
Art is easier. It’s much less direct.
What music has had an influence on your sound?
My dad is a musician, so I think his music has had a big effect on me. He’s an old-time musician, but he had pretty broad tastes outside of that. Michael Hurley, Jonathan Richman, The Louvin Brothers, and these big old ska box set compilations were on heavy rotation throughout my childhood. Phil Collins also haunts me. My parents never listened to that stuff, but it seems to have come through the ether and left an indelible mark on me. It’s nice to play with my brother because we have really similar sensibilities, we have the same nostalgias, but he’s a better musician.
What influences your art?
Anime, flesh, and the color pink!!!
Tell us about your live show…
I talk a lot.
What happened to your previous band – The Realbads?
I had a kind of melt down and tried to move into my grandma’s house in California??? When the dust settled and I slunk back home the lineup was shaken up. That band was awesome and I love the dudes involved, but it was logistically a lot to handle and also I was leaning on all the talented musicians too much. I wanted a band where I would be forced to learn guitar better, I can’t hide behind a synth or a sweet riff anymore.
What do you make of the music industry right now?
I think the music big companies are getting more skillful at giving people the illusion of choice while staying true to their core values: paying artists as little as possible and maintaining existing power structures. On the plus side: There are a lot of bands these days! I think it’s great that music making and recording is more accessible than ever.
What influences you lyrically?
Michael Hurley and Jonathan Richman. Those guys are able to make me cry and laugh in the same song. There is this Tove Janson Moomintroll story where Snufkin is trying to write a song and there is a line about how the perfect song is two parts spring joy and one part loneliness or something like that. That is the song I am trying to write.
My most memorable gig ever was….
Haha, I honestly sort of have a memory block about them, I’m always very tense afterwards and try to think about them as little as possible. I did see one of the most amazing live performances ever at a show I played a few months back. This guy Bryan Reynolds in Providence was tapped into the mothership it was incredible!!!
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
I’m sorry but I have pretty strong feelings about time travel and if I had a time machine I would use it exclusively to go back in time and check out- ambulocetus, the giant ground sloth, basilosaurus, or any of the other amazing creatures and megafauna that used to run this planet. But I guess if I could only use it to see music I would see Thin Lizzy.
Growing up, at home I listened to…..
Michael Hurley, Jonathan Richman, my dad playing old-time music, my dad’s cool garage rock/country band Twang, Don Drummond, The Louvin Brothers, Gillian Welch.
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…
Reelin In The Years – Steely Dan, No Type – Rae Sremmurd
If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
Jonathan Richman because he’s my hero and it would make my parents proud.
If your house was on fire, what possession would you risk your life to save?
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
Eating dinner at my best friend Zoe’s house. Or at home in bed not moving.
The one thing I want you to remember while you’re listening to my music….
~~ please love me. ~~
What’s up for 2015/2016?
Going to try to get a long tour together, going to try to make a full length comic book, going to try to write a new album, going to try to better person, probably still going to live in my parents house.
Photo by Joe Steinhardt