Having studied jazz at Leeds College of Music, and becoming firmly enrooted in the jaw-droppingly talented Abstract Orchestra ensemble, Izzy Flynn has now finally given us a taste of what she is capable of as a solo artist with her debut “Medicine”.
And it’s the perfect way to get acquainted with her work… an atmospheric builder which is both delicate and intricate in harmony and arrangement. Packing a lot in despite being just shy of 3 minutes, it leaves you wanting more, which is apt considering it is about the seduction of cravings.
The song begins with sparse, dramatic piano and while it leads into more electronic R&B, almost pop territory, you can see how her jazz influences take the song into a more stylish place than the norm.
We were delighted to get the chance to chat with Izzy to find out more about the creative process and her future plans…
Your influences are varied. At what age did you first realise the importance of music and who were those first influences?
My family are musical, both my mum and grandma play piano. I also had a very creative teacher from the age of 7 who taught me classical piano; Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Scott Joplin etc. I’d write loads of compositions and make artwork to them, playing them in little competitions. We looked at basic harmony and creating stories and moods through sound.
As an artist with more than one talent (singer, writer, and musician) you allow yourself more control over the final sound. Which of these areas do you enjoy the most?
I love harmony and chords. I’m constantly developing knowledge of harmony, seeing the piano as a playground, a palette, gaining more colours.
Writing for yourself is good as you have more time getting to know where your voice sounds juiciest.
I saw a photo of you recently where you were playing a red Nord which is an item I lust after. What is your favourite piece of kit, or what equipment could you not be without when performing/recording?
I use a Nord and a Prophet – I love heavy synth layers. But, I couldn’t live without the piano – acoustic beauty!
How did you first come to be involved with Abstract Orchestra?
I was asked by Rob Mitchell (band-leader/writer) and when I got back from a gig at 5am, we were both on Facebook and he asked ‘How good is your sight-reading?’ to which I replied ‘I’ll do my best!’
Its an amazing line up of instrumentalists/rappers/singers and we’ve supported some great acts: Mos Def, Afrika Bambaataa, De La Soul to name a few. A highlight was the MOBO live series and playing the O2 Academy.
What is your personal musical highlight to date?
Difficult question! Finally releasing my own music! Bringing some incredible creatives together to make the “Faith” music video (which is out soon!!).
Tell us a little about the song “Medicine”. How did it come about? Do you write lyrics first or the music?
Ooh nice question, this interests me a lot, the process of composing.
For me it’s chords — melody — lyrics, each winds into each other. There is no set way though…it’s following and creating a feeling or a mood through all three things.
I try different approaches for composition/improvising:
– limitations (where you don’t need ALL the ideas/flavours in one pot)
-bassline first, then harmonise that, and add the melody from the harmony.
-or make a bassline-melody sandwich and later add the filling: the harmony.
-or use dice to branch out of usual compositional pattern.
“Medicine” is probably held together by its melodic baseline.
Your EP comes out in the summer. Can you tell us about the other songs?
The song “Faith” contemplates losing faith in oneself, while the chorus conveys a message of survival; to capture your moment of strength with an image:
‘Baby when the storm cries / You’ll be flying off the ground / Take an image when it feels right…’.
My lyrics often evoke strong visual imagery, reflecting my love of painting and the arts. The Rob Jury directed music video for this song will feature myself with three contrasting personas: Storyteller, Vulnerable, and Warrior. It will feature fashion creations by upcoming designers Sadie Clayton (copper mask), Melissa Tofton (warrior outfits) and Myia Bonner (necklaces), and sees me battle against inner demons of fear and anxiety
There’s a song called “Gracious” which describes various different characters that have been in my life. Up to this point each of the songs build but the final track “Open Up/Kisses” kicks into the chorus quicker, and is more upbeat. The other songs are all about layering, but to end the EP I wanted to kick in with some more immediate impact.
What are your plans following the EP?
An Album. Some live shows, supporting some tidy musicians and get Jools Holland to give me a gig! Somewhere down the line I’m going to start including more instruments – I used to write and conduct a big band and merge styles with string quartets, brass, woodwind, etc.
Are you still producing work in the art/fashion field? How do you balance this with the music?
I still paint and draw, mostly portraits or figure drawing, it chills me out! I love working with many different designers: its art that you wear! Also, I love being around and working with artistic people, film-makers etc. I’ll be using some of my artwork for album/vinyl soon!
“Medicine” is out now.
Her EP will be released in the summer.