Earlier this month I had a wonderful coffee morning with Brighton’s soulful songwriter, Izzy Adams. After seeing her original set at The Prince Albert last month – where they opened for another of BN1’s favourites, FoxyWombat – I was dying to have a chat with them… Izzy has the kind of voice that floats right into your soul, drifts through your memories, and leaves you melancholic and covered in goosebumps. Meeting Izzy in person was no different, she was as open with me as she is with all of her audience members – and had many wise words on the topics of mental health, dealing with sadness and ‘toxic productivity’. She left me wondering about my own connection to music, and a new appreciation of the ears I have for listening, and the voice I have for singing – albeit badly, and in the privacy of my shower!
“I started writing a song a couple of days ago about how you can never be alone if you have music.. You’ll always have yourself” – Izzy
Izzy has had a busy month since I saw them at the Albert – doing multiple gigs around Brighton and a demo for Universal Audio at GAK, where they were offered any one of the brand new gorgeous guitars lining GAK’s walls to play for the promotion… Did they take one? No, because they had just bought a guitar the day before, and the thought of playing a new expensive guitar might make the new guitar feel that it wasn’t good enough, so they “owed it to the guitar to give it that respect!”. Relatable content for any guitar owner!
Snippets of thoughtfulness and sincerity like these peppered our conversation, where it quickly became clear to me that this was a person with a genuine love for music and their craft! I loved getting to know Izzy, and can’t wait to get a hit of that spellbinding voice again come November!
<< Full Interview Below >>
I saw you open at The Prince Albert last month, and you were fabulous! How does it feel to be doing live music again?
Ah thanks! I had never really performed live before lockdown to be honest, I did a few online charity gigs and some within the uni… but really this is all brand new to me, and it feels incredible. It’s such a pleasure to have people come along to one of my shows, who want to be there and watch you play. I feel so lucky (and sometimes a bit like an imposter) when I’m getting to play so many gigs when the climate right now is so dense in Brighton!
You attend the Waterbear College of Music, how has this shaped your experience as a student and musician?
I come from a classical music background, playing viola, clarinet, piano, and singing in my school days. Originally, I was studying art at Loughborough… which I quickly realised wasn’t for me. Then I changed to a hospitality management course. On my one day off a week from that job, I was scrolling Facebook and a Waterbear video popped onto my feed. I hadn’t considered studying music at all before then, but when I saw it, I called straight away… despite being about to start a new job at a Michelin Star restaurant!
I got chatting to the then admissions tutor, Megan Sayer, and ended up driving down as soon as I hung up the phone for an audition. They gave me a place the same day! Everything I know about performing comes from Waterbear. And more than that, their ethos and attitude to mental health is amazing. Over lockdown, all of the mental health care, therapist sessions, mindfulness and wellbeing one-to-one sessions carried on over Zoom, and have continued in person now. I’ve never been better, mentally, than through my time at Waterbear – I’m really grateful.
They have done so much for my career too – they put me forward for amazing opportunities such as opening the New Gen Brighton Jazz festival’s Waterbear gig in early October, running a song-writing session at the Elderflower Fields festival and getting me in contact with Gak to help demo the new Universal Audio interface’s (Volt series). I had a professional photoshoot last year with Scarlet Page, it was promotional for them – but also great promo for me! Now she follows my music and I am so grateful to be on her radar. Impacting someone with such a great roster of musical friends really hit home to me that maybe I have something special to give.
Where does your inspiration come from?
The reason why I started song-writing is because it’s an outlet for being sad – I sit at the piano and cry, and then I make something beautiful out of it. That emotional release has been so important in my life, and has shaped the way I deal with mental health in such a positive way.
One of my biggest inspirations is Meatloaf. Or maybe my first… if I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life, it would be “[I Will Do Anything For Love]”. That song always brings me back to being grounded in my emotions.
Other artists that will always be an anchor in my music taste and vision include, in no particular order.. Lianne La Havas, Delilah Montagu, Tom Odell, Mother Mother, Queen and Prince.
You bring so much raw emotion to your performances, how do you cope with sharing so much of yourself on stage?
I’m content at the moment, but you can see I’m sad too – just listen to my songs!
I’m trying to build up a persona, to protect myself a little bit. Especially as what I sing about is so personal… I try to use metaphors in my lyrics to mask the emotions to an extent. It’s so important that people realise they are not alone with their feelings – I hope that what I write can be relatable for people. I struggle with so much, but from an outside perspective it might seem like I’m doing fine.. My biggest struggle is being alone with nothing to do for even an hour, it’s easy for thoughts to get the better of me, you could say I’m toxically productive!
I would really like to write more happy songs! A song that I’ve just finished working on with Alex Matthews yesterday is called ‘Paper People’. It’s about other people and their struggles, rather than a first person’s perspective, Alex’s song-writing technique of 2nd and 3rd person perspectives allows the contextual spotlight to be on whomever you want, rather than about the person singing the song. Sometimes I feel like I give so much of myself on stage, it would be good to sing about someone else for a change!
What’s your writing process?
In day to day life, how I write is by voice notes on my phone haha! I just hit record and improvise. I try to give myself a context and bring something out of it.
My biggest project at the moment is with producer, Alex Mathews, currently under the artist name Far Planets. We really bounce well off each other – we can sit down for half an hour and have three song ideas down already! He’s also my drummer and we’ve started writing together too. We have some incredibly exciting events and opportunities coming up that will see my solo set transform into a more established, heavier, hybrid band set up. Going on to shape a more up-beat, emotive live set for future festivals that we have coming up next year.
You are the founder of The Power Of You music label – can you tell me a little about that?
I’m in the process of rebranding The Power Of You into a collective rather than label. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I want to use my platform to help expose artists within the community – it’s a big thing in Brighton but there needs to be more integration into the music scene. I do my best to get the artists I work with to have as much exposure as they can. In all honesty, the past few months have seen little action in terms of label development as I am doing the background work in order to create a product that we are really lacking in Brighton… Watch this space.
Initially what I was doing, in the big picture, was building a community that incorporated mental health and wellbeing within the label’s services – with one to one chatting sessions, yoga etc, and then carrying on supporting self-care with follow up sessions. Over lockdown we would have a zoom meeting with each person in the label, where we would catch up professionally and personally to make sure we were on the same page. Transparency with the people you work with is so important. I’ve had mental health issues in the past, and I’m so happy to say that now, with my support system, I can make music and do what I love.