Izabelle Norén launched her solo career on the 1st of January 2021 as IZHAV. It is so hard to find the right words to describe the feeling I had after hearing ‘Catch the Sun’. It felt as if I discovered a treasure that was hidden for years. Something so familiar and original. So fragile and honest. So beautiful and meditative.
No wonder that we named the songs as the best song of the week on our New Music Sunday. Then we even named it as one of the best 39 songs we’ve discovered on Musosoup during January.
We didn’t need to wait for long for a second single and we thought that it is the perfect timing to get to know the creator behind these captivating stories.
You started 2021 with the release of a debut single ‘Catch The Sun’. Tell us about the journey until that moment?
Well, I was maybe 14-15 when I first held a guitar, and oh the magic! But just standing upright in front of people was uncomfortable enough for me, being a queer kid, going against the grain, so when I started performing live with my high school friend, it was a nervous breakdown party every time. But he is the biggest part of how I got into music. He fought those demons with me, while we explored the world of creating. Together we found our way out to the streets, busking and travelling the country with no money at 17.
So later on, as a 20-year in Guatemala (about a year earlier thought I had put music on the shelf ) it felt pretty natural when I found a guitar and started playing street music, hitch-hiking around as a way to keep on travelling. My flight had already left back to Sweden without me, cause I felt like I wasn’t done. I teamed up with a girl from The States and a dog from Mexico. We hitch-hiked through Guatemala, Mexico, The United States, and Canada, until there were no more roads to travel on. Then we jumped over to Europe and kept on doing that over here. Living day by day, from the coin by coin.
5 years later, that era came to an end and I moved out into the Swedish woods. I settled down in a house with my new found love, where we grow our own food and just follow the river of life. And now, finally, it was time to gather all the stories and experiences life had given to me, and share them with the world. That’s how IZHAV was born.
We are all followed by our own shadowIZHAV
What does ‘Catch The Sun’ mean to you and what made you decide for it to be the song that introduces you to the world?
We are all followed by our own shadow. It’s so kind and patient, cause It holds our sorrow and pain for us. Most of the time we don’t even look back at it, just taking it for granted while we keep running forward to the next great thing as our shadow grows bigger and heavier behind us.
This time of isolation has been hard on many people. We had to slow down, and that’s when we are forced to meet our shadows. And we have to face whatever it has held for us and accept it to finally let it go. But sometimes it’s just too hard and we get stuck.
At that point, it can be crucial that another energy comes in to pull us out of the darkness, into the light. For me it has been my awesome girlfriend, but it can be an animal, a friend, stranger, a grandmother or this song.
2020 has been an extremely challenging year. What kept you sane and how did the lockdown impact your creativity?
I’m so grateful that I made the decision to move out into the countryside. Especially now. During the lockdown, I’ve been able to spend more time in nature. Right before it all started with the pandemic, my girlfriend and I bought a house, so we had things to do… Taking care of the house, planting trees, making and taking care of the vegetable- and herb garden.
Also, it was the pandemic that gave time to finally give birth to IZHAV. A local producer called me (like I said, I live in the countryside so just the fact that we have a local producer and a really good one too, is insane. Anyways, normally he’s really busy, but at this point, he was like; Hey, all my jobs are cancelled. Do you have any music you’d wanna record? I had only dared to dream about a solo project, but at this point, there was no return.
For your second single ‘Beratta’ you decided to sing in Swedish. Even though we can’t understand a word of it, it makes the song even more magical. Tell us more about the idea behind the song and what it means to you.
It kind of blends together with ‘Catch the Sun’ in the way that this is the actual moment when we see our shadow.
It’s about turning around, meeting the eyes of truth.IZHAV
And yea, it’s hard, cause otherwise, we wouldn’t have had to run from it in the first place. But through listening, understanding and accepting we can finally let go.
A lot of your songs were born while travelling the world. How are you dealing with the fact that sadly now world travel is extremely difficult?
To be honest, I think it’s really interesting and important that we had to slow down and get perspective on our lives. Stop chasing tomorrow, next project, next experience. We have been forced to stay present, cause we can’t make plans.
So, what are we doing with our lives? And what are we doing with our planet?
For me, travelling was a great tool to explore who I am, because it helped me to stay present. During those years I had no plans, no phone or computer and I was not tied to any bigger responsibilities.
My survival depended more or less on my ability to stay present and follow my intuition.IZHAV
Can I trust this person? Do I want to go this way, or this way? Where can I find shelter for the night? Am I still on the right path?
So yeah, travelling physically is great, I wouldn’t be who I am without my time spent on the road. But I think it’s possible to get to know yourself in the same way while travelling in other ways too. Going inwards, exploring the mind, body and the things that reach even further, our whole complex and mystical being.
I wouldn’t be who I am without my time spent on the roadIZHAV
Looking back, what was one of the happiest moments while travelling?
When I decided to stay in Guatemala, and not take my flight home, magic started happening. It was like life was saying, Hell Yes, let’s do this!
I started breaking down walls that I thought had kept me safe, but really just kept me in prison.IZHAV
On the back of rusty ol’ pick-up trucks in the serpentine mountain roads of Guatemala, I learned to let go of my control. Through the desert of Mexico, I learned that I am the creator of my life. In the harsh southern states of America, I learned new ways of loving. One coincidence after another just showed me the way out of my old skin and I felt like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. So I guess the happiest moments have been the revelations and the turns. When finally letting go of things that don’t serve me any more.
Tell us more about your creative process.
Normally I explain my songwriting as a vomit of emotions, but I’ll try to keep it clean this time.
I think I write songs all the time, without even knowing. It’s like there is a little songwriting elf on my shoulder, constantly taking in information, from me and from all the other dimensions that I can’t even fathom. Then it is transformed into music without me even knowing. And when the song is more or less ready, I feel this urge, as if someone’s like. Hey, psst. Listen, grab the guitar. Hurry. – And when I do, music comes out.
Later on I have to sit down and edit, finnish the lyrics and fine adjust to make it a full song.
I tried sitting down to write a song, using my brain. And yeah, it works, but it doesnt give me what transcendent feeling that is just mind blowing. Sometimes I even get the feeling that I’m not the one writing the song, I’m just channeling something for someone else. (My god you’re all gonna think I’m completely nuts, and maybe I am.. )
DZ: No Izabelle, you are not nuts, you are just channeling creativity, exactly how Elizabeth Gilbert discribed it
But yes. I’m not a schooled musician… so I don’t know that much about music really if I start thinking about it. So letting go of the thinking brain is more or less how I roll.
Who were your biggest music influences while growing up?
Elvis Presley was my first musical crush. S Club 7, Pink. hmm.. Manu Chao. I think it was a pretty random CD collection. Then in my early teens, when I discovered the world wide web, I started listening to Bob Dylan, Bright Eyes, Tegan and Sara, Shout Out Louds and Säkert to name a few. Then I found my Dads old vinyl collection and it started getting really serious. Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin and then Laura Marling entered and I’ll just leave it there.
Do you have a song that when you hear, you’d be ‘Damn I wish I’d written that’?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their musical journey and start sharing their songs with the world but might feel a bit stuck?
Ask yourself – Why do I want to do this? And stick to that when it gets hard. Trust your guts. If you feel like this is what you want to do, there is a reason for that. No doubt. Maybe you need it to heal from something. And maybe also to help heal someone else.
You only live one time in this body, so what do you want your life to look like when you lay on your deathbed?IZhAV
It’s always scary to share our music with the world. Jeeze I have a mental breakdown every time I release something new! It’s like taking off our skin while standing on a crowded square in Paris. What will they say? Will I get hurt?
I learned a lot from busking. So an advice is to try that out. It takes time, trust and patience. But it’s SO rad!
Many people just pass by and ignore while others show disgust with their whole face. One person even threw pancakes from their window to state their displeasure (it was hilarious!). What I slowly learned from that is that the music was never for them. And their reaction is anyhow never about you or your music, it’s just a reflection of their own inner fear and pain that is projected onto you. Because you dare to do what you love, and that provokes people who don’t.
The music I want to share is for the people who can hear it. I mean really hear it. And I promise, every day out on the street, there will be something that reminds you of why you are there. Even if it was just one single person that stops to listen in 8 hours, it makes it worth getting back out the next day. Cus the magic that happens, when someone stops doing whatever they are doing to stand on the street to listen to you, gives me chills just thinking about it. It’s like all of a sudden they are the only ones that exist. All the other stressed out people running around just becomes part of the scenery. And that’s when I remember why I’m doing this.
Your EP ‘SAMAN’ is scheduled to be released on the 26th of March. Tell us more what can we expect from you sound wise?
A spectrum of sounds that is like a cloudy sunrise in february. When the sky is just so dramatic in pink, purple, blue and gray, yet everything is so still and calm.
Close your eyes. Imagine its 20th of January 2022. How would you summarize 2021? (what do you want it to be?)
A year of rebirth. The year when we started daring to take new directions, ending the era of destruction and disconnection. Finding back to our inner core, and starting the journey to healing ourselves and the planet we live on.
Make sure to connect with IZHAV
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