by S Mashlan

Indi: On The Edge

by S Mashlan

Indi: On The Edge

First coming to public attention after placing second in the 2012 Smokefree Rockquest comp, Indira Force became part of the NZ alternative music scene during her time as lead singer of Doprah. When NZM caught up with Indi last year, Doprah’s debut album ‘Wasting’ had just been released. Now Indi is stepping into her own light again, this time less mainstream than the first time around, with the dreamlike sound of solo album ‘Precipice’. She refers to Doprah as a huge learning curve for her musically, but as Indi tells Sophie Mashlan, she’s now focusing firmly on her solo project.

The first single Indi released from her debut solo album was the title track Precipice, which came coupled with an eerie, science fiction-themed video. She’s relishing in the complete artistic control she has over her compositions and videos as a solo act, which would be a different experience to her previous band releases.

“Now I have to take full ownership of it as well, which is really scary. I have to take full responsibility, and if someone thinks it’s shit I have to be like, ‘Yup, that was me who wrote that stuff that you think is shit.’”

Having started degrees in both Fine Arts and Music she understands the links between all artistic outlets and aims to marry the audio and visual, creating a strong, immersive experience to the work as a whole. As an artist as well as an art appreciator, she uses both her own work and the work of some favourite artists for her album.

Indi shifts in her seat as she sheepishly admits that she designed her own art for the single Tablelands and influences the directing of her music videos. The cover art for ‘Precipice’, a piece by local artist Séraphine Pick, stood out to her as being ideal for the album, after having studied the work at university.

“It just makes so much sense as an album cover. There are a lot of themes in the album which are explored in the painting, like the purveying sense of a natural environment, but it’s also very otherworldly”,  she enthusiastically explains.

Creating the tracks on Reaper, a PC digital audio workstation, Indi used a combination of acoustically recorded and MIDI-input sounds. Matthew Gunn, also of Doprah, engineered the album. Through their past experiences together they already knew they could work well together, and the informal approach helped her feel comfortable in communicating what she wanted. 

“He understood my wavelength without me having to say anything. There’d be times where I’d be like, ‘Can you make it more…’ and he’d already be doing it.” 

The confidence that her vision would ultimately be the outcome helped her maintain a sense of absolute ownership over ‘Precipice’. Drawing her knees up to her chest she muses over how things may have turned out had she worked with another engineer.

“I think if I was in a studio with an engineer I didn’t know, I’d feel like I couldn’t put my foot down, or that I couldn’t really say what I wanted because they might not listen to me. But he is spot on and I’d be really reluctant to work with anyone else as my engineer.”

The process of arranging and recording the new material has taken longer than anticipated. However, determined to stick to it and get the music out there, Indi threw herself in the deep end and decided to publish her album tracklist three months before the album’s release.

“It’s so then people know that the songs are all there and they’re written, and they’re just in the process of being mixed and being mastered. I wanted people to know that,” she explains. This was not only to force herself to commit to the album, but it also served as a way to communicate to her audience.

The resulting music has a very mystical feel to it, which Indi hopes will take the listeners into their own world.

“I want to transport them to a different place, but everything should be left open to interpretation. To me a song is always evolving, it has a life of its own and also the different characters it takes in the people’s lives who listen to it since things sound different to everyone.”

The instrumentation shares similarities with sounds used in fantasy films and games, her soft, crooning vocals giving the songs an ethereal tone. There are references to fantasy worlds, such as a The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe reference in the title of Cair Paravel. While she hopes it will take on a new meaning to each listener, the title ‘Precipice’ refers to a time in her life.

“I was on the brink of change… I guess in the years between 19 and 23 you change so much as a person and you feel like something really big is about to happen. ‘Precipice’ seemed to fit that feeling and a transitional stage.”

Typically, Indi juggles more than one musical endeavour at a time, not just her own songwriting, and speaks about plans to make her passion a lifelong career with palpable fervour.

“I’m doing a bit of scoring on the side and I’m really enjoying it. I recently scored a dance performance at Basement Theatre.

In the long run, she aspires to compose for film, which aligns well with her desire to transport listeners to other worlds.

Demonstrating a positive attitude when it comes to her music career, she says she doesn’t pay any mind to the pessimism the music industry is facing due to streaming et al. A giggle escapes as she reflects on this.

“I’m a musician – I can’t stop just because the world is doomsdaying the industry. It’s a weird idea that I would abandon the one thing that I truly love doing because people say you can’t earn money in it.”

Aligning well with a love for creating visual art, she has proven herself a gifted artistic director. She conceived the idea for her Precipice music video, working with the Candlelit Pictures team to make her concept a reality.

“I created a private Tumblr account of all these images that I’ve taken for the art direction of it. They used a lot of my ideas.”

Released in March, the video was funded with an NZ On Air grant. The video is comprised of close-ups on her face, with special effects makeup, a raised platform, and a group of writhing naked bodies. Laughing and blushing, Indi covers her face as she recalls filming the video.

“Because we were missing one person, one of the directors took his clothes off and started writhing with all of them for the shot!”

As we finish, she takes a second to reflect on the conversation before giggling. “Please omit all of my ‘likes’ and ‘ums’, and all my lame jokes.”

For the next few weeks, she will be holed up in her room emailing people and promoting the album to her best ability. She has high hopes for ‘Precipice’and looks forward to sharing her first major step into a solo career with her audience.