Our Ballard VOX musician spotlight this week is with Intisaar. She gave an engaging and inspiring interview below and we cannot wait to see her perform this Sunday at 8pm at the Sunset with The Feral Folk and Sour Girl! For now we will let the interview do the talking and will see you Sunday at 8pm at the Sunset. Get your tickets quick! $10 at TicketWeb
- What first got you into music?
As a child of maybe 7 or 8, I remember sentences in my head would naturally form into little melodies, and at that time I realized how much words and music complemented one another. It was an enjoyable time of self discovery.
A few years later I found myself in the same position as many other teenagers with an artistic streak –alienated, grappling with pain that I couldn’t make sense of, and seeking connection with anything or anyone who could relate. I was learning guitar at 13, and was so obsessed with singers who weren’t afraid to speak their minds, even if it wasn’t pretty. Learning how to sing and play my favorite songs really propelled me into wanting to write my own, and potentially reach other people through my music. It was one of the only ways I could really connect with other people as a teenager, because I was really isolated and bullied a lot.
- Who inspired you to make music?
I was really into Nirvana, Garbage, Alannis Morrisett, Nine Inch Nails, Beck, Smashing Pumpkins– music with a strong point of view that wasn’t afraid to be weird, angsty, grotesque. Also, from a really early age, my grandmother would always be singing and listening to music, mostly opera. She told me she always wanted to be a singer, but ended up teaching kindergarten instead. I consider her to be a positive musical role model; she really respected the artform.
- How would you describe the music that you typically create?
I write and perform mainly on acoustic guitar, so when I am solo, the music has an inherent singer/songwriter folkiness. I have heard my voice described as haunted, raw, powerful, emotive…I spend a lot of time playing in my falsetto range, and I enjoy exploring ways to channel strength and intensity through those delicate octaves.
WIth a band, I tend to select rock musicians to collaborate and play with live. I love the union of the soft and hard, the pure and the distorted. For instance, my last single is washed in distorted, delayed production, which I don’t normally use. It was a fun departure from my comfort zone.
- What is your creative process like?
I spend a lot of time playing guitar, hunting for chord progressions, and then pour vocal melodies over them. I usually record long improvisations, then later chop them up for parts. Lately, the melodies come to me a capella when I am driving or walking home from work. My phone is full of sound clips that I regularly comb through for interesting tidbits. After a decent song structure emerges, I grab other players and either prep a tune for live performance or recording.
- Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I have already gotten to collab with some amazing local talent! If I could choose anyone on the planet, it would probably be someone like Trent Reznor who could join me in songwriting, play multiple instruments, and also build amazing, creepy, moody beats. I am really into singing lately, and would love to join forces with an electronic/industrial type of artist.
- If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
Fiona Apple, Joanna Newsom, or Tori Amos! I also recently heard that Alannis is touring again, so yeah…if I could get on one of those bills I would be pretty stoked.
- What is one message you would give to your fans?
Please be patient with me! It takes a lot for me to be able to produce new music that is up to my standards. I promise you that more is coming, and thank you for continuing to come to my shows. The group of people who know and like my music is varied, and truly an amazing bunch. I am lucky to have all of them.
- What is the most useless talent you have?
I can clap with one hand while creating a very loud popping sound with my lower lip that no one else seems to be able to replicate. I will do this on command, or until you command me to stop, whichever comes first.
- Where have you performed? Do you have any upcoming shows?
I have performed at many bars in Seattle- The Sunset, Connor Byrne, Highdive, The Jewel Box Theater, The Tractor Tavern, The Triple Door Musiquarium, The Seattle Aquarium, and even The Moore (one of my favorite experiences!).
My next show is at the Sunset on December 15th. We are celebrating the digital release of my single ‘Unabated’, which was previously released through Bandcamp in 2018. I am excited to share the stage with Feral Folk and Sour Girl, who both happen to be female fronted bands. My backing band is made up of my best and most talented friends, Will Andrews (Ten Miles Wide, Walking Papers), Jake Carden (Ten Miles Wide, The Pimpsons), John Beckman (The Mothership, Ten Miles Wide), and Gregor Lothian (The Walking Papers, Missionary Position). I am truly blessed to be playing my original songs and some very cool covers with these guys!!!
- What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Last year, a good friend and amazing musician Ayron Jones gave me great advice that stuck with me: Don’t get caught up in playing shows if you’re grassroots/unsigned. Spend your time and resources writing and recording to the highest quality available to you. Having recordings out there on the interwebs is the best way to get better shows, a wider fan base, and generally expand your reach and influence.
- What’s next for you?
I am releasing new music in 2020 and continuing to explore collaborations with artists who will challenge and inspire me. I also want to continue to sing on other artist’s creations, which is arguably the most fun part of being a singer. Someone else does all of the work, and then you get to come in and play over it. I love being a guest vocalist.
- Any favorite Ballard memories?
When I was about 17, I started going to the open mic at Mr. Spot’s Chai House (I think the space is some kind of restaurant now?) I was a regular there for years, building my confidence as a performer, work-shopping song ideas, and getting to know a wide variety of poets, singers, and players. I miss that place!
Interview and Photo by Melissa Wax