By Alyssa Laube
“The genre of pop has always been natural to me,” said musician Indigo, who will be performing at the Art World Expo in Toronto’s Hard Rock Cafe this year. “This isn’t a surprise considering I grew up in the 90’s and 2000’s when pop, R&B and hip-hop were dominating the music world.” Certainly, the powerhouse songstresses of that time can be heard in her songs, ranging from the lively hooks of Madonna and the Spice Girls to the soulful crooning of Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys. As a matter of fact, Indigo seems to emulate the charm of bubblegum pop’s poster child, Britney Spears. It’s the upbeat sound combined with the darling image that evokes images of America’s (ex) sweetheart, but although the parallel can be made, Indigo brings something fresh to the table. Like Britney, she’s a solo act who describes herself as “flexible” when it comes to who she works with, but all-in-all, she’s more involved, unprocessed, and authentic. Basically, every Indigo original starts and ends with her. Along the way, fellow musicians and producers may lend a helping hand, but at the end of the day, it all comes back to Indigo.
Although she’s a true indie artist, her live shows (such as the one that will be taking place at the Hard Rock) are played with a three-piece backing band. James Karfilis, “a good friend and an incredible artist with many creative projects on-the-go,” plays guitar, sings backup, and helps co-write. Ben Müller, the bassist, and Bradley Connor, the drummer, joined Indigo on stage together with their talent, musicianship, and admirable stage presence at hand. For Indigo, who “looks for heart, commitment, and drive in people,” this was exactly what she needed. The trio gives her shows a full sound and a high, positive energy. It’s the group’s expertise and friendly dynamic that promises a good night out of any Indigo performance, which usually consists of both originals and cover songs.
“Throw back tunes are a great way to connect with the audience because it’s speeds up the process of getting them comfortable with the band,” said Indigo, about her choice of covers. “It hits a nerve that makes them want to dance or sing along. For a performer, that’s the dream!”
Rather, that’s one of the dreams. Another one of Indigo’s is to publish an EP, but it will soon become a reality. The five-song record, entitled Child, is being released track-by-track (and two are available on iTunes already), but will be “re-released as a collection eventually”.
“All five tracks follow a chronological story, but due to money and time, I’ve had to spread them out over the years. I’m learning as I go and it’s taking me longer than expected, but in the end, I’m more interested in quality over quantity. I have another four to five song EP in mind for the future, once Child is completed.”
When it comes to inspiration for the albums, Indigo takes from the little things in life. “Honing on on every single detail” and taking notes on the interesting parts of overheard conversations has inspired many songs for the artist, but she was also heavily influenced by her childhood.
“My parents listened to a lot of world music when I was a wee one,” she recollected. “My dad played the Arabic tabla and the didgeridoo, and my mom was a professional belly-dancer. She took a couple of qanun lessons and they always had tambourines hanging on the walls. Growing up, I didn’t know how unique my childhood really was, but now, I see how lucky I was to be introduced to such exotic sounds and visuals so early on. I used a didgeridoo in the first four bars of ‘Mercury Retrograde’, not only because I think it sounds cool and works with the song, but also as a shout out to my dad. As an artist, I naturally gravitate towards those familiar sounds and I intend on incorporating them into my work in the future. It keeps me grounded and feels like home.”
Hopefully, these sounds will be heard on the upcoming releases. The trademark of most pop songs is that they’re somewhat formulaic, so the addition of an uncommon rhythm or instrument would undoubtedly give Indigo the upper hand. For now, she can use her tender (but powerful) vocals and admirable songwriting chops to gather crowds, including the show at the Hard Rock.
“The venue is a huge draw for people – it’s a household name that’s reliable. About two years ago, I was watching other artists play on that very stage and thought to myself, ‘It must feel great to be up there,’” she reminisced. “Now, it’s my turn.”
Visit her website to listen and learn more about Indigo!
Photo credit: Madelayne Hajek