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A young, sensitive singer songwriter with a seemingly innate talent for performance and composition, Indiana is a songstress that you should be keeping your eyes, ears and attention fixed on. She has been the architect of her own creativity with her emotionally driven, low key music being minimal in construction but maximum in impact. We wanted to know more about the voice behind the shivering beauty of track ‘Blind As I Am’, so we chatted to our new favourite female siren about her, admittedly, “jammy” road to a record contract, her latest single ‘Bound’ and her pre-performance paranoia. As well as Gary Numan, Indiana Jones and sadomasochism...
So we thought we could establish some basic facts first. Your name is a reference to Indiana Jones. Tell us where that came from.
Just from watching it as a kid really. When I got into music I didn’t want to be called by my birth name. I wanted to be called something different and I wanted to disassociate myself from that and be creative. It took quite a while. Every name I thought of just didn’t feel right. It was my boyfriend actually that thought, “What did you used to watch when you were a kid?” I said, “Indiana Jones,” and a few days later he text me and went, “Why don’t you call yourself Indiana?”
Have you always been set on being a solo artists or did you try being in bands before becoming Indiana?
I’m really new to even wanting to be in the music industry. It all kind of happened by accident. My sister was the musical one in the family; she played piano, sang and wrote songs. She had a piano but she was moving into a small flat and it couldn’t fit, so I offered to look after it for her. I kept it in my dining room and kept having a go on it and thought, “I’m actually alright at this.” I was learning to play songs off the internet, like from guitar tabs, and teaching myself chords. After I got that hang of all that I started writing my own stuff but it was pretty rubbish. I figured I could do it though so started focussing on doing cover versions. Again my boyfriend, James, introduced me to the song ‘Gabriel’ by Joe Goddard and I loved it. I wanted to do my own version of it. I posted it on YouTube and the actual song’s composer, John Beck, saw it. He said he wanted to watch it for a laugh really but in the end he wasn’t laughing! He liked it and got in contact with me. And we’ve been working together ever since. It all just happened by accident. No wonder I never settled into any jobs before this. I feel like this has just been waiting for me.
What were you doing before you got into music? Just out of interest.
I was printing and designing t-shirts. Like, holiday t-shirts. For example ones that would say “Ibiza 2011” on the back or something like that. It wasn’t like I was some cool designer in a boutique!
Well it’s the greatest happy accident we’ve ever heard of.
It sounds pretty jammy, doesn’t it? I don’t think other artists would appreciate me just falling into the hands of Sony and signing a recording deal, all within a year of me realising I liked music!
It can happen that way now though because the music industry no longer sticks to a tradition format or formula. There are many different routes to success now. Anyway, the cover you did of ‘Gabriel’ has been pretty instrumental to getting you established and your name out there. You also did a cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Swim Good.’ Is there anything in particular that made you choose those songs? Is there a certain something you look for when you want to do one of your interpretations?
I just have to connect with the song or it has to speak to me. At the moment I’m looking at doing a medley with a Gary Numan track and a Blondie track, and using songs that are more about the production, I guess. When I did the covers of ‘Gabriel’ and ‘Swim Good’, lyrically, I could put myself in those positions. It felt as though I actually wrote ‘Swim Good’. At the end of the recording I actually found myself in tears. You can hear me crying at the end. I just have to make a connection. Not necessarily a sad connection though.
Can you tell us about your new single ‘Bound’? It seems quite different to your previous single ‘Blind As I Am.’ It seems less low-key and sounds like a bigger production.
I’m taking more control over song writing now and I’m now heavily involved with production. I think you can hear that ‘Bound’ is much darker and more sinister. It’s also a bit more edgy and leftfield. It’s different because I’m not afraid to experiment.
Female artists are very much dominating music en masse right now. From new names winning acclaim to Madonna still being the highest act in music. How does that sit with you as a new talent entering the field? Do you find the number of strong female voices out there encouraging?
Definitely. I mean, Adele and all her success in the US has really opened the door for other female British artists too. Hopefully we can all take over the world together. It’s very encouraging.
Where would you put yourself on the musical landscape? Who would you say you sit beside in terms of sound?
This won’t make sense to people yet as they haven’t heard the music I’m working on right now but I would probably say I’m somewhere in-between James Blake and Gary Numan[laughs]. In time that will make sense! It’s so frustrating that I’m evolving and I have all this new material that I have to hold back. I just want to show everyone. Originally the plan was not to release a new single until the end of April but I just couldn’t wait that long.
Do you think it’s important to keep up a fast work pace in order to keep people interested?
I thought it would be that way but I’m being taught to see it differently. For quite I while I had just three songs out there on all the social media networks and I was worried that people would think I was just a one trick pony or that I didn’t have anything else to offer. You have to get the right speed and momentum. You can’t show everybody everything you’ve got, but equally you can’t keep it all too close to your chest otherwise people will lose interest in you. I wish I could be putting more stuff out there but I’m going to do as I’m told for a while.
You’ve got some live shows coming up – how do you feel about performing? Do you get nervous?
I don’t get nervous until the day of the performance, and then I can’t eat and I can’t talk. Then an hour before I’m due to go on my voice will get really hoarse and I start feeling ill and thinking that I cannot do it. I think that my career is over! [Laughs]. I get so paranoid. But when I get on stage, open my mouth and sing the first note I think, “What was I worrying about?” I don’t get stage fright, I get career fright. I get scared that it’s all been accident and that I’m going to forget how to sing.
Are you someone who puts in a lot of practice before a live show? Are you a perfectionist?
I would like to say ‘yes’ but… I’ll rehearse a few times but I know my music and it really is an ‘in the moment’ kind of thing. I can sing around the house to practice but when I’m recording or performing there’s just something that comes out of me and I go somewhere else. It’s as though I go into the song. And when that three and a half minutes is up it feels like I’ve been thrown back into the room. I can’t practice that, it just happens.
And to finish, who are your idols?
Can I say more than one? Well, Gary Numan is number one. I’ve only recently become a fan. Working with John Beck, who is a bit older than me, I’ll be showing him things that I’ve come up with and he tells me that it reminds him of Gary Numan in terms of the production that I like and my strange song subjects. I hate throwaway lyrics and I think that’s something I have in common with Gary Numan. I like to tell a story. It doesn’t necessarily have to be true or be about me but I’ll put myself in the role of, say, an insomniac, an adrenaline junkie or in the case of ‘Bound’, a sadomasochist. Anyway, the more I’ve been researching Gary Numan’s work I’ve developed a massive music crush on him. I also have a lot of respect for The xx, they were a good reference point that I kept going back to when I was working on ‘Blind As I Am’. I really felt what they were doing and wanted to apply it to my music. I really like James Blake as well. His song ‘Retrograde’ makes me feel like everything else I’ve ever done is rubbish [laughs]. It’s so good that I don’t even think he’s human.
Indiana plays Live At Leeds Festival on 4th May 2013
Her current single ‘Bound’ is out now
Written for IDOL