In 2023 Izo FitzRoy knows herself better than ever, and on her newly released album, ‘A Good Woman,’ Izo takes an introspective look at who she is as person, and at what it means to be a woman today. Izo’s unique sound and powerful, soulful voice has earned international acclaim from BBC Radio 2, JazzFM and a Heavy Rotation feature on NPR. Effortlessly gliding between genres, ‘A Good Woman’ encompasses a range of sounds to suit all moods from upbeat sunkissed anthems, to rustic folk, jazz and blues. With a richly layered soundscape and heartwarming bluesy vocals, there’s no doubt this project will be a mesmirising experience when performed live at Izo’s ongoing UK & European tour.
In this interview, Izo discusses the grief, depression, and soul searching that lead her to creating this new album, being fortunate enough to navigate the music industry without being pigeonholed, and a 60’s and 70’s Italian film score influence within the album’s production.
Hi Izo, thanks for speaking with us! You have a really soulful, honest voice that communicates the central theme of this album so well. Do you remember when you realised you had such a powerful voice?
Hi! Thank you so much. I’ve always loved singing but I think I first clocked that my voice was somewhat distinctive when I was living in Glasgow. I started gigging in Glasgow – singing satirical comedy songs to Glaswegian punters, and I was almost always told that my voice was powerful and that I could have been mistaken for a man by the way it sounded.
When did you decide officially that you wanted to make music? Was there a catalyst moment?
I decided that I wanted to take music more seriously and write more emotional songs when I was living in New Orleans. Spending so much time on my own whilst I was living there led me to have a huge emotional breakdown, which I could only process with music at the time. Writing songs like ‘Shadowlands’ off my first album ‘Skyline’ summed up how powerful the therapeutic nature of writing songs could be for me.
The new album deals with many relatable topics like reconnecting with yourself after having a hard time. What did that look like for you?
I spent the majority of my 20s living with depression. After my father passed away when I was 24 I disconnected from myself and from music for quite some time. Coming out of the other side of grief – for both my father’s death and the ending of a long romantic relationship, I retreated inwards and did a lot of soul searching. This album is a testament to that time, and the woman I now feel I am entering a new chapter.
The album also looks at what it’s like to be a woman during a time when many women have given pieces of themselves away, and regaining a sense of self. How do you cope in an industry where women are often pushed to fit a certain mould to be deemed “marketable”?
I have always held firm in my beliefs about who I am as an artist and the music that I want to make. I am extremely lucky in that I have never been pigeonholed, so this fortunately has allowed me to be free on the constraints that other genres impose upon their artists. I’ve also been lucky to be surrounded by artists, label members who have also given me the freedom to be myself.
The title track and your new single, ‘A Good Woman,’ has such a fun and playful sound and such an expansive soundscape, especially in the choruses. What inspired the dreamy element to the music?
I’m glad that you find the choruses dreamy! I listened to a lot of Serge Gainsbourg and Minnie Riperton whilst I was writing the album. From the initial writing of the chorus chords, it immediately felt cinematic and almost James Bond themed. This then led to Oscar de Jong and myself creating a sonic atmosphere that propels you towards the sounds that you would hear in 60s/70s Italian film scores.
On the singles we’ve heard so far, you’ve moved effortlessly between genres. Is that something that comes naturally to you? Do you listen to a lot of varied genres as inspiration?
I listen to a huge variety of music, I’ll collate music that moves me or touches me in some way and it doesn’t matter where it comes from. I also write songs without knowing what genre they will be and the production and arrangement then influence the genres that best support the song. It’s much more fun to write with this flexibility even if it feels like a challenge sometimes to find cohesion for the project as a whole.
You’re playing in London on the 22nd April just before the album comes out and you’ve got a busy touring schedule after the album comes out as well. Do you have a song on the album you’re most looking forward to playing live?
Ooh yes, I have a song I adore called ‘Small Mercies’. It’s essentially a gospel banger and I love it because it oozes joy. The singers get to step into the limelight and show off and any time I play this song it puts me in the best mood.
Who or what inspires you when you’re creating music? Do you prefer songwriting sessions, or do songs take shape over a period of time?
Songwriting sessions can be great, learning about other people’s styles and techniques but I definitely prefer to write over a long period of time and slowly piece it altogether.
Do you have any featured collaborations on the album? And if you could work with any artist, who would you choose?
No collaborations for this album but I would love to work with someone like St Vincent or David Byrne. Two artists who defy the norm of what it means to be an artist and who take huge leaps creatively in every album they make.
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Words: Cleopatra Bailey
Photography: Kenny McKracken