Kill your local indie softboy
Last year, Izzy Camina posted a cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Ivy’ to Soundcloud. It’s one of the deeper cuts from Blonde but, beyond the fact that she might have picked ‘Thinking Bout You’ or ‘Nikes’ instead, it’s a choice that makes sense; her own sound is heavily indebted to Ocean, a thickly atmospheric blend of dark RnB and gauzy dream-pop. She’s insisting, though, that she takes her cues from a far broader cast of characters. “I mean, I’ve recorded a Bauhaus cover, too, but my manager told me not to post it,” she complains. “I did ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, but apparently that’s not pop enough, so it’s not out there.”
Still, it’s every bit as indicative of her range of influences as Ocean is. “I like a lot of things. EBM, I love that,” she says, and clarifies that she means electronic body music, the heady blend of industrial, synth-punk and dance popular in Germany in the ’80s “that makes you feel like you’re exploding from the inside”, before reeling off a list of her favourite artists – Gesaffelstein and Boy Harsher both get shoutouts. She is evidently keen to avoid pigeonholing before her career makes it off the ground, and she isn’t afraid to say so. Funnily enough, it’s this sheer force of personality that sets her apart from her peers on her second EP, Nihilist in the Club, which is scored through with wry, knowing wit.
You can practically hear her rolling her eyes as she wearily slaps down nice-guy beta males on ‘Kill Your Local Indie Softboy’. ‘Up n Down’ is a searingly self-aware treatise on millennial angst. She took delight in naming the title track, convinced it would rile philosophy and psychology majors. “It’s super jokey, it’s super tongue-in-cheek, it’s me being a really emo bitch,” she laughs, before suddenly snapping to attention. “Obviously, I’m not actually a nihilist. I understand that it’s a corrosive foundation for one’s worldview.”
She does this repeatedly over the course of a forty-five-minute conversation – laces her affable, laidback demeanour with a piercing piece of insight, like when she plays down her love of Ocean’s music but then goes off on a tangent about “how brilliantly he’s navigated our capitalist America as a feeling artist, and I use ‘feeling’ as a verb.” In that respect, she talks like she writes, both within her songs (‘Up n Down’’s deceptively simple chorus conceals the blistering references in the verses to drugs and violence) and within the wider context of her work: a scroll through her Soundcloud sees her tracks broken up by poems, with titles like ‘Fentanyl’ and ‘Digital Lust’. It is not an unusual contradiction in those in their twenties; one minute cloudy, the next clear-eyed, mired in a purgatory halfway between insecurity and self-assurance.