The title of Indigo De Souza‘s new album is a pure statement of fact: All of This Will End. Depending on your frame of mind, it scans as either totally defeatist or life-affirming, and the Asheville, NC singer-songwriter doesn’t point in any one direction – simply gestures at the preciousness of everything and, in her music, traces how it moves through her body. All of This Will End, though, as she makes clear on the title track, is more actively about “moving through and trying your best.” De Souza wrote it during a transitional period while detaching herself from a toxic community, and by the time she went back into the studio, she was surrounded by safer, kinder, and more loving people who became a source of inspiration all their own. Like her previous albums, 2018’s I Love My Mom and 2021’s Any Shape You Take, the new record is driven by raw intensity and emotional dynamics that can get pretty messy, but it’s also filled with unwavering conviction for the things that matter, and for the importance of growing with them. She recognizes that fervor looking back on the astounding ‘Younger & Dumber’, offering catharsis that ultimately transcends the self: “The love I feel is so powerful it can takе you anywhere.” And isn’t this far always just enough?
We caught up with Indigo De Souza to talk about how mushrooms, community, parking lots, anger/sadness, and more inspired her new album.
In the press release for ‘Younger & Dumber’, you talked about taking mushrooms for the music video and the effect it had on your performance. But I’m also curious about how it informed your process more generally for this album.
I was talking with a friend recently about what our lives would look like if we had never explored mushrooms. If I’d never explored psychedelics, what would I be like? And I think that I would not be anywhere near what I am now, because they’ve taught me so much that I don’t think I could have come to learn as quickly on my own. They’ve really deepened my relationship with myself and my love towards the world and my acceptance towards death and my connection to nature. Mushrooms are almost a hard thing for me to talk about sometimes, although I want to talk about it more and more, because I think it’s important. Sometimes when something is so important to me, it’s almost hard to talk about it, because I’m afraid that I won’t do it justice, or that it won’t be taken seriously. But I am a huge supporter of the decriminalization of mushrooms, and I think that they have the ability to heal a lot of harm and damage that’s been done in the world.
For the ‘Younger & Dumber’ video, I was actually not even planning to take mushrooms at first. I was just going to dance. And then I had kind of a revelation that that is what I needed to do for the video, because when I’m dancing on mushrooms, it is a specific kind of dance that comes directly from the earth, and it doesn’t actually feel like it is me that’s dancing. It feels more as if it’s like a spirit self or the self that is reflected through nature. A lot of humanity is so disconnected from nature and so disrespectful towards nature that it felt important to embody nature, and also share that energy and what that looks like with the world.
Is it something that interjects with other parts of your creative process?
What’s really beautiful is that when I take mushrooms I am actually able to sing in a way that’s different than when I am not on mushrooms. I have never really been able to replicate that kind of singing just in my day-to-day life. It’s almost like the part of your brain that thinks, like, “I can’t dance” or “I can’t sing,” parts of your that brain are doubting yourself all the time – that kind of melts away, and you feel like you can explore things more and that you can trust yourself more, at least for me. It has opened up this part of my throat to create a deeper singing pattern, and that is really special. It feels like it’s working out trauma in the body. I remember discovering that when I was younger, and it did start to inspire my music in a way. Mushrooms are just very spiritual, so they change you as a person, but also inspire artwork – not just when you’re in the moment experiencing the mushrooms, but once it’s integrated into your life, it kind of feels like it’s inspiring everything, because it brought you closer to yourself.
What I love about the way you write about community on this album is that the power of it still remains sort of unspoken. You don’t necessarily talk about community in direct terms on ’Younger & Dumber’ or ‘Smog’, but you can still feel the way it’s transformed you.
Yeah, it’s funny. I feel like if I were to look at the lyrics of the album, I don’t think there would actually be any words about community. But a lot of the songs from this album were written when I was in transition between communities. I was coming from a toxic, dysfunctional community and realizing that I needed to surround myself with a different kind of community. Once I started to find that community and fall into a more healthy pattern, it gave me the strength and the safety to process my past experience, because I felt like I was being held by people in a way that actually gave me the space to fully express myself and trust myself. So a lot of the songs, even though their content isn’t directly about community, they were inspired by community because my community was holding me while I was writing. It felt like almost a manifestation: that writing those things and processing those things and being with the self is what eventually led me to them.
Was the rejuvenation you felt as part of this new community something that you wanted to bring more to the forefront of the album after coming into it?
It’s interesting because I wrote a lot of the songs before I was established in my newer, healthier life, and then when I recorded the album, I was fully in my most thriving form. So I think musically, when you hear the album, it sounds very certain and bright and colorful, even though some of the songs are still really sad. [laughs] I wrote the songs, but then I just got healthier and healthier, and felt more and more accepted and more and more celebrated and held, and felt like my relationships were deepening, my connection to nature was deepening. By the time I actually was in the studio recording the sounds, they came out in such a specific way because I was fully in this place of trust with myself.
Parking lots/Grocery stores
There’s so many things there. I remember when I was young – you know that song that’s like, [singing] “They paved paradise/ And put up a parking lot”? I used to sing that song a lot when I was young, and I remember the lyrics always hitting me so hard, because they almost were what even brought to attention the fact that we do pave parking lots – because I was so young, I would sit and think about what it meant, and I was like, “Wow, literally, there was a forest, and then they cut it down and they put a parking lot there.” And then once you think about how much of the earth is actually covered in parking lots and roads and buildings, how much we’ve taken away from what is naturally there, it just really highlights what humanity’s place is in the world and what we have evolved into.
Being a person with mental health issues, grocery stores and parking lots have always been kind of a symbol in my life. I get a lot of anxiety in the grocery store – there’s fluorescent lighting, you have to interact with machines that are talking at you and malfunctioning. You also have to interact with people who are working in the grocery store and buying things in the grocery store, and both of those roles to me are extremely depressing. There’s such a potential for us to actually connect with nature and with each other and to learn from the earth and provide for ourselves from what we’ve been given, but instead, we have created these very structural systems that are obviously unnatural. Not everybody even notices that or cares, but for me, I can sometimes feel like I’m about to break down in the grocery store, because I just feel so out of my element and sad about humanity.
It obviously ties into the song ‘Parking Lot’, and it also comes up in ‘The Water’. Just like grocery stores, the parking lot feels like a space that elicits feelings of dissociation and confusion, because it’s so familiar but can also highlight the disconnect between who you were at one point and who you are now. I’m thinking of ‘Losing’, where you’re in the car and this overwhelming wave of change suddenly hits you in that moment of stillness.
Writing ‘Losing’ was in a really dark period of my life where I was feeling a lot of loss within my friendships and grieving the community that I was phasing out of. Even though it was good for me, I was still grieving those connections and grieving the fact that they weren’t healthy. And yeah, exactly that – I feel like my experience many times was that I hadn’t left the house in a while, and then I left the house to go to the grocery store and went into the grocery store and had a really hard time being in there, but just had to be strong and get what I needed to survive. And then got in the car and everything was quiet and all the beeping and the noises and the people were gone – in the silence, it’s that space to cry and feel the weight of it all.
It’s interesting how you bring up nature in songs like ’The Water’ and ‘Not My Body’ almost as a vessel for connecting with your body and its own aliveness.
I think what it is is that I just don’t see much of a separation between me and nature – any of us and nature. Having been on psychedelics, you know, it’s a mushroom that grows from the earth, and you eat it and it interacts with your brain in a way that deepens your connection to the place where the mushroom came from. I just know that in my personal life, any time that I have gotten closer to nature, or planted something in the ground, or watched something grow, or have made a fire outside with my friends and just watched it and talked, or gone skinny-dipping in a beautiful river, or worked on something outside – it is just so right, and it feels like it opens up a part of my brain that is essential for my survival. It feels so special and life-giving, and it especially feels good to share space in nature with other people. That became a big thing for me during the pandemic.
Do you ever write in nature?
I do, I definitely love to write outside. Where I live there’s a creek that I go to often that’s private, so I don’t see anybody there, and that’s a good place to write. But I don’t always get to choose where I write, because I don’t go out deciding to write. Writing kind of decides that I’m going to do it. So when a song is coming to me, it’s often like, who knows where I am? I’m just wherever I am, and it ends up happening.
In the context of All of This Will End, I’m interested in how the relationship between those two emotions manifests in the dynamic between the instruments and your voice. In ‘Wasting Your Time’, for example, I hear anger in the music and more of a sadness in your vocals, whereas later in ’Always’, they maybe line up more.
Yeah, totally. I feel like what is really a good example is ‘Time Back’, because in the beginning it’s very positive, it’s like, “I’m not feeling great, but I know that it’s gonna be okay on the other side.” And then the middle section of it is just pure defeat and anger and blaming, and the ending is kind of a more spiritual coming to that being angry wasn’t helpful. I felt like that was an awesome way to open up the record, because it goes through those three emotions quickly and it’s very reflective of my experience and what often happens in my body.
I have always and still have issues with anger, and now have tools to help me through it. I think that the biggest part of understanding my anger has been knowing that when I’m angry, it’s not just that I’m angry, it’s that there’s other things underneath the anger. I am using anger as a protection mechanism because I’m not yet willing to open up whatever is underneath, and what is normally underneath is a deep, deep well of sadness. Sadness can be so vulnerable – it makes you soft, and it makes you more able to crumble. So I feel like sometimes when I’m really sad, it can look like anger because anger is a more powerful thing to harness, or it feels like something that I can have more control over.
Music has been a really important outlet for me with my anger, because it’s very easy to make it come through with music. You can write lyrics that hit the space of sadness that you are feeling, but you can write it in a way that feels powerful. I listen to very intense music when I’m angry, and it helps me get out the feelings and thrash around and move my body. And eventually it ends in crying, because that music can bring on that kind of catharsis that you need to get to the space of softness, and that space of softness is where transformation actually comes from. So it feels important to make music that can do that for other people as well.
Are you conscious of how those layers of emotion are reflected in the layering of a song?
Yeah, for sure. For example, the reason why ‘Always’ is as crazy as it is, is because Dexter [Webb], my guitar player and best friend, went totally ham on it, just completely lost himself doing lots of different layers of very intense guitar playing. What felt so special about it, and what brought me to tears just watching him record guitar for it, is that he knows me very well and has known me for years and years. He’s seen what my anger looks like, what my sadness looks like, what my entire spectrum of emotion looks like. He holds such a deep love for my spectrum of emotion, and has always been able to speak directly to that through his guitar playing. So it’s not only just special coming from my perception of the layering of emotion, but it’s special when it’s also an interplay between people who are committed to showing up for each other in every layer of emotion in real life, too.
The child self
In these songs, there is a lot of darkness surrounding your memories of being a young person, and when you’re at that age, it’s maybe hard to separate the darkness in your life and the darkness within you. But as you grow, it’s necessary to do that in order to find empathy for that younger self.
Yeah, that kind of aligns with what I was thinking about the child self. I mostly wrote it down because of ‘Younger & Dumber’, and the way that I’ve come to understand why I wrote that song and where it came from. The child self, I feel, is not very separate from just the spirit self. When you are a child, like you said, you don’t know any separateness between your experiences or what you’re feeling and you; it feels like everything is just one thing. It is very much just happening and you’re very present in it. And not only that, but you’re also very vulnerable and very open and trusting towards everything, because you’re a child. A child is the most pure form of spirit that there is, because they just are being. They’re not thinking about what they’re being. And as you get older, you start to form an idea of what it is to be, and it kind of muddles your presentness of mind.
When I wrote ‘Younger & Dumber’, I was writing almost a love letter to my spirit self and my child self. It’s just offering a tenderness around the experience of going from that purity and openness and innocence, and then getting shoved through growing up [laughs], getting tossed through the meat grinder and coming out on the other side with such deep love for that spirit that is still there and still experienced everything from the inside. I think that it’s important to remember the spirit as something separate from all of the experiences that you have, to just hold it with softness and to not blame yourself. Writing ’Younger & Dumber’ was a big part of coming to a self-forgiveness. I think there was a time when I used to feel really mad at myself for making dumb decisions that got me into situations that harmed and traumatized me. But now I feel an ultimate acceptance for all of that, because I didn’t know any better. And now I do.
This album especially was written in a place of isolation, so it feels important to talk about. Being who I am, I often look for external things to distract me from what’s going on inside, because what is going on inside with me is so intense, and it has been really intense since I was a child – so much that I’ve written about suicide since I was 9 years old. If you look back through my artifacts and my journals, it has always been a tough experience to be here. The pandemic was interesting because it pushed me into this really deep space of isolation that I hadn’t experienced before. And not only was I isolated because it was the pandemic, but I was also isolated because in the beginning of the pandemic, my friends that had been around in my community and my bandmates and everyone just fell away and decided to go another direction, and that was really intense for me. For a second, I felt like I was completely alone and was flailing and was not ever going to have friends again.
It was just such a pure space of heartbreak, and I cried a lot, and I went numb too, and distracted myself with TV for a while. And then I suddenly came out of that into a place of self-love, and realized that I needed to pick myself up. So I started exercising a lot, and I started eating healthy food and making myself really yummy meals. I started writing again and started recording music and making demos for songs, and that’s when I started really writing a lot of the songs that are on this album. Once I started to love myself and explore my emotions and process things in a healthy way, that’s also when my new community and friends started to manifest themselves. I just kind of magically met people that I needed to meet. It’s just so wild to think about that transitional space and where it has brought me now, and how large my community got from that moment. It just got bigger and bigger and bigger, and healthier and healthier, and brighter and brighter. Now, I just feel so blessed to have that space every day, and to feel celebrated and better in my body.
Connection with the body
So much of what we’ve already been talking about relates to connecting with your body, which is interesting because a lot of the album revolves around out-of-body experiences. But it never stays in that space for too long, especially when it picks up speed or intensity.
Yeah. In ‘Not My Body’, when I say “I’m not my body” – what I have found is that often feeling out of body actually brings me more into body, because being in body day-to-day can sometimes feel really heavy. Like, my body physically hurts because of like the amount of emotion that I carry around, and I have to actively remind myself to dance and to do things that I know are healthy for my body; to stretch and feed it well, and give it space and time, and relax my jaw and stop grinding my teeth, stop picking my nails, stop picking my scalp. [laughs] There’s so much maintenance with the body that is really hard. There are moments when I feel very free in my body and a closeness to it, and dancing does that for me. It really allows me feel every part of my body in a way that is more free, and it also helps me process a lot of things.
Another time I mention body is in ‘You Can Be Mean’, and that song is a lot about coming to the realization that I need to respect my body enough to have boundaries and protect my body from harm, especially when it comes to the way I allow other people to interact with my body. The lyric “I can’t believe I let you touch my body/ I can’t believe I let you get inside” came from a period in which I was allowing this horrible guy to be intimate with me. He was lying to me and he was harming me actively, but for some reason I was allowing that to exist, and was not protecting myself and not having healthy boundaries. Part of me knew that at the time, but it was almost like I hadn’t completely learned that. I was still having trouble with my self-worth, so I was allowing that energy in my life. I wrote the song because that guy was the last guy that I allowed into my life that was horrible to me.
I think that’s a really important message; that you don’t have to be with someone who isn’t celebrating you, and you don’t have to allow anyone access to your body that you don’t feel comfortable with. You have all of the power within yourself to celebrate yourself. You don’t need to get validation from people who treat you badly. You can just let go of them, because there’s so many people in the world who are very kind and very caring, and you can find those people if you treat yourself that way. If you treat yourself with kindness, then you will manifest other people that treat you with kindness. But if you allow people to treat you in toxic, horrible ways, then that’s what you’ll manifest.
The relationship between light and dark
How do you experience that relationship personally, and how do you go about channeling it into a musical form?
The reason I wrote this down is because I’ve been noticing in interviews lately that a lot of people have the idea of light and dark as separate things. Sometimes they’ll say, “This album is so much lighter and brighter than your last albums.” And then some people will say, “This album seems really a lot darker than your other albums.” It depends on who they are, because they’re perceiving it the way that they’re perceiving it, but they’re saying it to me as if it’s a fact. And it’s interesting, because what I started realizing is that when they’re saying things like that to me, they’re talking about light and dark as if they don’t exist in the same place.
Especially with me and my writing, everything is coming from a place of light and dark; and happiness and sadness; and triumph, but also defeat; and death, but also life; and love, but also deep, deep pain around love. I think what is cool about this album is that it feels like I used to be more focused on the dark, and now I feel more interested in pulling light from my experience and spreading light from my experience. But all of that wouldn’t exist without the darkness that I feel, and the understanding of the darkness that I feel, and the understanding of how other people feel it too.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.