Words by Angelika May
Photography by Anya Rose
Get to know Izzy Moriarty Whyte, a singer-songwriter who has firmly planted herself in the South London gig scene. Rooted in acoustic and folky sounds, she effortlessly explores diverse genres, captivating audiences across London. From intimate sets in DIY Southeast East venues like Avalon Cafe, Matchstick Piehouse, and the George Tavern to enchanting performances in supper clubs and upscale North London cocktail bars, Izzy's musical journey is a testament to her versatility. I spoke to Izzy, in the lead-up to her single launch, taking place next week, her latest release, "Deep Sea Freight," Izzy takes her acoustic origins to indie pop heights.
How did embarking on your musical journey during lockdown influence the evolution of your creative process?
Lockdown provided an interesting element, as I had to move back home with my parents like a lot of people. While at home I began to delve into previous passions to try to assess what brings me joy. This is where I began writing songs, the first songs were inspired by walks I would take with my mum. I never thought I would end up performing, even though I had spent a significant amount of time in choirs and playing covers on guitar. The lockdown provided a distance as most people were releasing music on social media, so there was less embarrassment.
Having had the digital element as a shield how did you navigate going into performing publicly?
I performed as soon as it was physically possible to, I thought, okay, I have to just do this, just get on stage and it’ll either be fine, or I’ll wee myself, but it was fine.
So no wee?
What has been the trajectory after that initial night?
That night felt particularly ceremonial in a way, I was wearing a dress made by a close friend, and the room was filled with loved ones, there was a lovely atmosphere in the air. From then I mixed and met more musicians and have since had the chance to immerse myself in the South London gig scene, frequenting venues such as The George Tavern, Matchstick Piehouse and Avalon Cafe. I was very grateful in this respect to return to normal life, as the social media stuff doesn’t come very naturally to me.
Creating music characterised by its dreamlike qualities, do you find yourself frequently drawn to mysticism, embellishing events and circumstances romantically?
Yes, mysticism manifests in fleeting moments. I’m very interested in natural mysticism, such as witches, Druid culture and the idea of communication and how that intertwines with nature. I’m trying to immerse myself in nature a little more, for example, there’s a stream at the end of my road I’m making an effort to visit regularly, and to identify the birds that live there. So mysticism is helpful when I’m writing songs that have a focus on nature but in terms of romanticism and songwriting, it’s the process of taking past events that have happened and processing them into music. It doesn’t matter if they’re sad, joyous, or banal it’s all about creating a story from these experiences. Regarding banality, I have a fascination with taking the everyday joys and using these as inspiration for new music, for example, ‘Deep Sea Freight’ is based on the shipping forecast on BBC Radio 4 that gives weather reports to ships isn’t beneficial to me at all, but I’ve begun to romanticise not only the language that they use to describe the conditions, as it’s quite archaic, such as “easterly” or “south-easterly”. It also poses an interesting subject around communication, the idea of me in my kitchen listening to the same report as someone out at sea, I think there is quite a big resurgence in community and folk at the moment too, so exploring communication and connection seems quite poignant.
How do you define a 'powerful female voice' and its significance, both in individual expression and societal impact?
The solo female voice speaks to me in a way that male bands can’t penetrate, I find such a power in women cutting through the noise, not necessarily through a loud voice but through an unapologetic voice. I can’t explain why I’m so attracted to female voices, but I just think that they tell a great story. In terms of society, there are women at the top doing a great job for representation such as The Last Dinner Party and Wednesday’s Child, but I think there is still a lot of work needing to be done within this scene.
How do you craft and cultivate ambience?
My acoustic tracks are cultivated in quietness, the intentional quietness is to force the audience to actively listen to the lyrics because every word means something. It’s again trying to curate this sense of connection through story-telling, for example, there’s a song that is based on an experience of a controlling relationship and I want that message to come across. The electronic side is more about creating something fun rather than ambient.
How would you describe the musical environment of your upbringing, and how did it influence your relationship with music?
Growing up in a very musical household, my dad had a large influence on my eclectic taste, he liked everything from baroque and opera to female folk artists, to 80s Italian rock stars such as Gianna Nannini, I was lucky that my dad wasn’t just a “classic rock dad”, but that he introduced me to a lot of female musicians. I was introduced to the piano as my first instrument, but as it was something I was encouraged to do, I felt a little bit of resentment towards the piano. When I picked up my dad’s guitars when I was fifteen, it was more of a choice, he left me to my own devices with the guitar and that impacted the way I formed a relationship with the guitar, it was much more positive. I also took part in a chapel choir.
More from Izzy Moriarty Whyte here
24th of January - The Old Queens Head
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