Angela Ricciardi

Indigo Sparke on Knowing Where the Gold Is Within Her NYC Moments

Heartbreaking with an inkling of heart-mending ability, Indigo Sparke is able to simply and acoustically bare her heart, mind, and soul with the world through swoon-worthy music.

Hysteria is what a broad, expansive sophomore release can – and should – sounds like. The record takes the emotional turmoil and interpersonal pressures of life that singer-songwriters elaborate on through lyricism and melody and shrinks it down so it fits snuggly in the pocket of an artist gazing out on the horizon of stylistically pop music. This is Indigo Sparke’s latest baby, a gloriously autumn album deep in its feels and utterly grounded. As a robust, expressive piece of art, Hysteria is worth talking about… as is Indigo Sparke herself, of whom we chatted with for a brief, musical conversation ahead of her live show in her new-ish hometown of NYC on December 1.

Aaron Dessner produced this new album of yours. What was working with him like? With such a roster of work under his belt, including the National, of course, but also Taylor Swift among others, I can imagine there was a dreamy point of collaboration.

Working with Aaron felt surprisingly familiar and comfortable. From the very first conversation we had it felt like it was going to be easy. I had a very strong feeling from the beginning that working with him was exactly what needed to happen for this record to be what it needed to be. I wasn’t sure for some time if it was actually going to work out to have him produce it, so in those moments I guess I was dreaming or hoping that it would eventuate. Once we started, it just kind of felt like Aaron was in some kind of flowing river and was like, “Come on! Jump in!” I think I was a little nervous at first as I had some ideas of how I wanted it to be, but then I just had to let go and trust that he had it, which he did!

Hysteria, your new record, is filled to the brim with soundscapes and landscapes – true stories and true imagery. How did you decide what songs ended up on this LP? There is no shortage with 14 songs and almost an hour of music.

It was really hard to decide! I had so many demos in a folder that I had shared with Aaron. We went through every single seed, half-finished song, voice memo, and finished songs to find the ones that we felt were sparking something and also that somehow belonged together. Aaron had strong feelings about a lot of them and luckily they were the ones I felt attached to also. In the end, playing with a sequence, it really needed to feel like a journey and there were certain songs that just really wanted to be shared.

The musicality of this record is all broad and brazen. Layers of guitars, acoustic and electric, more than caught my attention. For you, what comes first – the story, the lyrics, and the personality or the sounds, the instrumentation, and the vibe?

For me, with this record, the story and the lyrics came first and then the personality and then the instrumentation and vibe with Aaron. I did have ideas about how I wanted the songs to sound when writing them, so I expressed all of that to Aaron. Part of what drew me to Aaron was knowing some of his work with other artists like Sharon Van Etten and loving the way he produced stuff, so I felt comfortable leaving that world up to him in the later stages of recording. 

There is a minimalist, serene, wistful quality to your art and the visuals, whether it be cover art or videos or stage design. What about this aesthetic draws you in and inspires you?

Thank you! Thats a nice compliment. I am really inspired by film and photography and I realize that a lot of the work I am drawn to has these qualities you have mentioned. I think when I am watching or looking at certain things that embody these worlds, I feel like it accurately and deeply portrays an aspect of me and my heart and the way I see and feel things. Things that speak visual poetry and have a simple yet poignant beauty – and that isn’t overbearing but that holds a gravity or intensity in its emotional world – is what I am always trying to achieve in my aesthetic. I like art that gives me room to feel and a space to get lost in. 

Do you have a song of yours, or two, that you are most proud of at this time with a new release to your name and a new, Hysteria-filled era to embark on?

My relationship to the songs tends to change depending on my state and the experience of the world I am having, but lately I have been really proud of and loving “Golden Ribbons” and “Why Do You Lie.”

With roots of New York by-way-of Australia, I am keen on asking you how the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, influences the art you are creating. Have you felt or seen or heard anything different in the way you make music upon being a pseudo-New Yorker?

Oh my gosh, yes! This city has changed me so much. I don’t know that the me before now would recognize me. I have never felt so beaten down and so rewarded as I have living in New York. I had to grow so much, so quickly, and cultivate and develop a sense of resilience and self that I had never experienced before. It requires so much from a person… and I think that’s the beauty of it. Some days you hate it, some days you love it, and some days you just have no fricken’ idea who you are in all of it. And that’s where the gold is. I hit my breaking point so many times and then somehow broke through to a new version of myself. I have experienced so much love here, too, and that is always the most inspiring thing. 

You just played Rough Trade at the tail end of October and you return to play Union Pool on December 1. How was the night at Rough Trade and what from that show are you carrying with you to the one at Union Pool?

Rough Trade was great! It was like an experimental show as I played with my dear friend Adam Brisbin, who is in my band. He plays bass and guitar and we just did the show duo which was so fun. It brings me such joy to play with him and I trust him so much musically that its easy to let go and just trust that whatever happens will be wonderful and perfect. 

I will be playing with the band again for the Union Pool show, and to echo what I just said, I trust all the people in my band so much and feel so inspired by them. I am just excited to see what happens and feel how the songs want to be played this time round.