DK: Good day Izzy! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today! How are you?
IF: Hey Dennis, lovely to chat with you, thanks for having me!
DK: I know you’ve been super busy in the studio working on your second EP, so I won’t keep you too long. I understand you’ll be taking your music in a “more upbeat” direction, what can you tell us about the music so far?
IF: So far I have picked a few tunes from different songs i’ve written over the last couple of years, with what I think have the strongest melody plus chord combination! These songs will be a combination of RnB and electronic sounds.
DK: That sounds awesome! In December, you gave everyone a brief peek at a song called “Kisses”. Am I correct in assuming that “Kisses” is one of the tracks that you’ll be including on the new EP?
IF: Yep! You are correct! Getting the right production sound, perfect tempo, perfect vocal take/quality will be whats going on behind the scenes!
DK: Well, you get a big thumbs up on what you’ve shared so far; loving it! How much music has been recorded and where are you recording it?
IF: They are all in rough/demo form with basic beat but theres a lot to be done! It will be recorded at home studios but potentially also some more swanky establishments! Its always cheaper to do in home studios but things like recording a piano really well and sometimes vocals are better in studio.
DK: With all the tools at our disposal these days, home studios are a God-send to explore your own sound more thoroughly and cut down on costs tremendously, even Kate Bush has her own studio, but I still think that professional studios will always remain essential, for sure. What do you think?
IF: I’d love to record in high tech studios all the time but honestly I think these days artists have to fund projects themselves a lot, or collaborate with other producers/writers etc so yes home studios in that sense are a blessing! I feel like a lot of producers who record their own vocals at home get a very organic, relaxed sound. Although, things like recording live drums or acoustic piano can be tricky at home. They can also be tricky in studios because a lot of places don’t tune the pianos!ha! This week i’m excited to be working with a new producer ‘Oscuro’, I look forward to showing you what we’ve created very soon!
DK: Now “Faith” is the title of your first EP, what can you tell me about it and where can people pick it up?
IF: The Faith EP can be played for free and added to your Spotify playlists here:
Or it can be bought on Itunes by clicking on the banner to the right and you can listen to it right here at the bottom of this page while reading our interview. Its a message to all of you (and to myself) to have Faith!
DK: Especially these days, it seems more and more important to have faith when everything around us seems to be falling apart. Along with the title track “Faith”, you also have the tracks, “Gracious” and “Medicine”, are there any themes or deeper meanings behind the tracks; do they tie together in any way?
IF: Each track is a very different theme really, ‘Gracious’ is reflecting on people who i’ve met, ‘Medicine’ is about peoples addiction to other people/drugs, ‘Aree’ is about friendship, ‘Faith’ is about having Faith in yourself. I quite like the songs themes being different themes though, hopefully its more interesting for the listener.
DK: Well, there does seem to be a loose theme of humanity (just being human), with interpersonal interactions, the affects of addition and spirituality, they are all a part of what makes us who we are. Being ‘Gracious’ is most certainly how we should be, having friends and faith is something we should do and the only negative would be Medicine about taking things too far. I am not sure if you agree with my assessment or not, but that is how I see these songs collectively. Where did the spark of inspiration come from with each of these songs and how did you approach them musically and lyrically?
IF: I try to let the chords/lyrics/mood/inspiration theme/everything build and evolve naturally. I write music now in the same way I did when I was 7 years old, its spontaneous. Sometimes I think it could take even a few seconds or minutes to come up with your ‘best’ ideas. So I try to write, then leave it, and listen back later to pick my favourite bits! I always start with chords and melody, often the chorus.
DK: Your approach to your music actually reminds me of painting, you paint, pause and step back and look at it from a distance and then come back to paint more. At least that is how I painted many, many years ago. Have you managed to put together a routine when writing songs with the rest of your schedule?
IF: I need to give more time to writing, set some hours in the timetable. But often the business side of music takes over, its all about balance though isn’t it! I often feel inspired when i’ve been looking at/analysing harmony with a teacher who I still see. I think it can be when the moment takes you and also can work within a set time, maybe you need both!
DK: What have been some of the most helpful lessons you’ve learned by your teacher so far?
IF: To think about music harmony as not just abstract ideas/sounds but understand how it fits together, where modes, chords come from etc. Have a base understanding for sounds that can be explored for a lifetime.
DK: Your video for the song “Faith” was recently released, how was it for you filming this video?
IF: The team were amazing, it was months of preparation. Rob Jury, the director was a vibrant and inspiring person to work with. In fact, despite being a lot to organize, I think its the highlight of my career so far, working with all kinds of wonderful and creative people. I’ll always be very thankful to everyone who worked with me on that video and hopefully many of us will work together again!
DK: What challenges did you encounter (if any) during the production of the video?
IF: It ran surprisingly smooth, or not so surprisingly, because we all prepared well and everyone was keen to do a great job. The hair stylist turned up about 6 hours late on the second day which wasn’t ideal but minor blip and otherwise very well executed project.
DK: How did you come to work with director Rob Jury?
IF: My friend Chris ‘Fatty’ Hargreaves who plays bass in Abstract Orchestra (with me), Submotion Orchestra, Alex Clare, Andreya Triana and many great projects recommended us to each other!
DK: What can you tell us about the visuals and how they relate to the meaning(s) behind the song?
IF: I am presented as 3 characters: Storyteller, a vulnerable character in white, and a Warrior in armour! The verses in ‘Faith’ song talk about being weak but the chorus’ are talking about strength, and remembering your own strength. The two characters (who look a bit alien-like) represent fear and anxiety – they end up getting obliterated!
DK: Fear and Anxiety do tend to short circuit ones faith don’t they? How is it (for you) creating all the different elements of this video as opposed to when you were writing the song?
IF: I wrote the song alone, produced it with another person JMAC and then the video was a 13 person team so far more sociable! Which I like :)
DK: Kind of like, from the spark of your soul, moving outward (to JMAC and your team) until finally reaching the world. Well, it is a powerful message and one people should not forget. There is too much darkness and hatred in the world, far more than even a few years ago and we need to remember to be strong and hold true to our faith to make it through and by doing that, we WILL succeed. Going back to your childhood, your mother and grandmother both played piano, correct?
IF: Yeah! I love hearing my mum play piano, she has a beautiful way of playing with great feeling and dynamics. She’s very modest too! Me and her chat about music for hours on end at times! She also sings. I actually never heard my Grandmother play piano but would have liked to, I saw many of her paintings though, we have them all around the house, she was a great landscape artist.
DK: How long had your mother and grandmother played?
IF: Since they were young too!
DK: What are some of your favorite songs that your mom plays and have you done any duets with her at home or elsewhere?
IF: :) I love hearing my mum play Debussy, Bartok, and lots of classical composers whose works i’m not too familiar with playing myself. Yeah sometimes we have a little jam, improvise over jazz standards. I like to hear her sing and play.
DK: Are any other family members musical or artistic?
IF: My Dad plays flute and sings and cousins are very arty/musical, one has a theremin!
DK: Tell me more about your early musical and artistic teachings, please.
IF: My first ever piano teacher used to encourage me to write songs, get the properly scored out and play in lots of little competitions, which was a laugh. The most important thing I learnt from her was 1) play with feeling/dynamics, 2) be free! – as in, write what you want, even using simple structural ideas and basic chords. I think most kids find it easy to be free and its perhaps more difficult for adults to allow themselves to do that because we learn as adults to be disciplined whereas composition is more about being free.
DK: How often were you able to work on your music as you were growing up?
IF: A lot fortunately, my parents encouraged it a lot, and it was fun!
DK: How has your Jazz training (in particular) influenced the way you create your music?
IF: Thats an interesting one! It is a treat to be able to understand and keep understanding/studying harmony on the piano. I chose to study Jazz, not because I love that genre but because it would teach me the most about harmony and composition. Really it has given me an understanding of scales/chords/functionally harmony so I know how they relate, and it can all be broken down into 7 scales in my mind! Studying Jazz in particular has given me a lot of rhythmic ideas to play with and juicy chords.
DK: So, would you recommend all pianists study Jazz at least in some degree to improve their understanding and skills as a pianist?
IF: hmm interesting one. I think learning about ‘Jazz’ harmony for a piano player is really great, obviously it overlaps with what we call pop and classical harmony etc. I personally am drawn to understanding about writing music, and harmony and think this is useful for not only creating your own music but the more you enjoy/understand harmony, the easier you can memorise pieces, and in turn use more of your brains available concentration for bringing the music to life dynamically etc.
DK: With your background consisting of classical, Jazz, Hip-Hop and more, how did you come to focus your music primarily in the electronic realm?
IF: Another interesting question! After I did a couple of country music tours I suddenly thought to myself, ‘hang on a minute’ I can have a go at whatever genre I would like, theres no rules.
DK: So true and you’re following lesson #2 of your early teaching to “be free”, so, that is good, right? :-)
IF: I chose electronic sound as I like the different production sounds of the modern day. But as I mentioned earlier, I’m going to incorporate more RnB elements now!
DK: I (personally) love a lot of electronic music myself, from artists like Underworld, to Skinny Puppy, to Bayonne all the way back to Pink Floyd, there is just SO MUCH you can do with it beyond the limitations of acoustic instruments. From taking actual recorded sounds and manipulating them to creating new sounds with software, the electronic realm makes musical possibilities limitless. Do you think you might ever release full albums in any one genre one day in the future?
IF: Yeah definitely, I think a lot of the time genres cross over of course… so this first album will be electronic/RnB and somewhere in the future I imagine it might be exciting to do a solo piano album and perhaps an EP of pieces scored for larger ensembles, string quartets and choirs would be a lovely addition.
DK: Wow, I love your vision! I’d love to see those happen because with your amazing talent accentuated and enhanced with strings and choirs, wow, I can just imagine how amazing that would sound. Since you’re open to so many things, it would be interesting to hear you sing with Massive Attack one day too. I love how they work with many different musicians/singers for their albums, if an opportunity like that ever arose, would you be open to that too?
IF: Thank you! Oh absolutely! I think massive attack are great and yeah, I love arrangements for all kinds of instrumental/vocal setups.
DK: How have the responses been to your music both online as well as during live performances?
IF: Theres been some great feedback from popular blogs such as CLASH and Line Of Best Fit, i’ve had support from David Arnold, Giles Peterson, BBC Radio presenters so hopefully all going in the right direction! I wouldn’t say no to getting on some more Spotify playlists though or Youtube/Soundlcoud! Live performance wise…i’ve met some really lovely people, especially at London International Hat Week, who were a pleasure to perform to!
DK: How long have you been working with the Abstract Orchestra?
IF: Quite a few years now, we’ve supported De La Soul, Akala, Mos Def and recently had a sell out UK tour. Its pushed me do to more reading music and thinking about time feel of playing rhythms as a large unit.
DK: What is the highlight of being a musician for you?
IF: When I have a day off! joke! (laughs)
IF: Chords! and being able to work with inspiring creatives.
DK: One observation, you seem to like to shroud yourself in darkness or cover your face in many of your photos, why is that?
IF: You know what, I only just noticed that myself recently! The dark element is a sort of taste/artistic choice; I very much like dramatic light, a lot of my favourite painters use dramatic light-Rembrandt included. I think looking down or away from the camera is something to do with looking natural or thoughtful about the music, creating mood.
DK: Well it is an awesome way to create mystery for sure, but me personally, I think you should let your light shine, as they say and with your artistic background, I can almost see you doing something like what Enya did on a couple of her earlier album covers for ‘Watermark’ and Shepher Moons’, a colorful way of presenting yourself and your music. That is of course only my opinion, so, I hope you don’t mind me sharing that with you.
IF: What a great idea! I love those 2 covers, beautiful colours and photographic mixed with painterly quality. I’ve been working recently on my portrait painting so in the near future there will be some paintings/original artwork in there somewhere!
DK: What are some things that you’ve learned in your career that you feel might be helpful to younger musicians who are just getting started?
IF: Well I think everyone has such a different route into the industry, but I suppose a good rule is to enjoy and be grateful to be able to play/write music and be patient with the business side of it! Work with people who inspire you, people you trust. Know how to let your hair down!
DK: All great tips there, thanks for sharing! How often do you paint and how long have you been painting?
IF: I paint once a week with my painting crew! Who, by the way, are awesome! We are lucky enough to have a fantastic mentor called Andres Jaroslavsky, who is an incredibly talented Artist: www.jaroslavsky.com. I’ve been painting from whenever I could start making a mess!-very little.
DK: What mediums do you prefer?
IF: I’ve just started using oil paint and you get a really rich colours. I used to think when you look at paintings in books, ‘what’s so special’ then when you see the real colours and textures in reality, it can really look like another work of art.
DK: Were you working with acrylics before?
IF: I have worked a lot in charcoal and pencil, but I adore the colours and textures that can be made with oils and am looking forward to hopefully mastering that art over the next 10s of years!
DK: How does your art fit in with your music career? Will you always find time for both or do you think one might win out over another one day?
IF: For a long time I didn’t allow myself to do art, because I thought I had to only be concentrated on music. But now, I realise the processes of composing or painting are far similar to that of the business side, and surely practicing using your brain in that way can only be complementary to each art form? Plus it has to do with happiness; art makes me happy and i’ve chosen to keep it as something I do for myself/ for the art itself.
DK: Has any type of music inspired your art and has painting ever inspired anything musically for you?
IF: Great question! In the past my art has been inspired by music, synesthesia, Kandinsky and the relationship between colours and sounds etc but now I’m focussing on the layers/skill involved in creating accurate yet atmospheric and artistic portraits. I prefer a Rembrant or Da Vinci’s painting to say a Chuck Close photo-realist painting, despite both being incredibly skilled, to me, the former has more character/vibe! Conversely, i’ve never written a piece of music about a painting …but thats a fab idea, thanks Dennis!!
DK: My pleasure! They’re both so powerful of outlets for us creatively and music has certainly inspired me with paintings I’ve worked on; they go hand-in-hand, really. Aside from making the music for your second EP and your shows with the Abstract Orchestra, what can we look forward to seeing from you in the coming months?
IF: Look out for an eclectic range of remixes of the ‘Faith EP’ – they will be released very soon! I’m hoping to make some more artistic music videos very soon too.
DK: Ooo, remixes!! If done right, remixes can be yet another awesome outlet to explore a piece of music in new and creative ways. As long as they continue to keep the main elements of the core of the song while building on the foundation of the original, right?
IF: yeah for sure, I’ve been quite intrigued to hear such varying styles. Very interesting to see how melodies can be reharmonises and the mood changed, so many possibilities!
DK: Who’ll be doing the remixes or is that not announced yet?
IF: Theres a few guys: ‘Oscuro’ has done a cool one of ‘Aree’, ‘Lex Low’ has done a funky version of ‘Medicine’ and ‘Oscar Jones’ has made an 8 minute House version of ‘Medicine’. There’s also a Garage version of Medicine in the makings!
DK: Is there anything more you’d like to share with our readers today?
IF: Yea, thanks so much Dennis and you the reader for taking an interest in what i’m doing and good luck to all of you with your endevours! Also, look out for new music/videos/ follow me on Spotify/Youtube/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter etc if you like what I do!
DK: Thank you so much for taking the time with me today Izzy, you are truly a beautiful and talented woman and I sincerely wish for the best for you and your career.
Biography: ᙇ “pitch perfect in its emotional impact…” – Clash
Izzy Flynn is a London based Dark Electronic Artist. CLASH Magazine premiered her first two singles ‘Medicine’ and ‘Gracious’ which are influenced by Electronic, Jazz and R&B styles, with rich harmonies and memorable melodies. Soon to be released is Izzy’s EP and hauntingly dark/artistic music video for the next single ‘Faith’, which features designers; Melissa Tofton, Myia Bonner, Sadie Clayton.
Izzy has toured with various artists and performs with Abstract Orchestra – an allstar Hip-hop Big Band made of the finest musicians in the UK that have recorded and toured with the top acts in the world.
She graduated with a First Class Honours and Composition Award on the BA Jazz Degree at Leeds Music College, and was recognised in Jazzwise Magazine for conducting her ‘most original’ (Brian Priestly) Big Band composition at Leeds International Jazz Conference.
Izzy is endorsed by ROLAND.