“Music is an escape and a deep analysis at an arm’s length”
The fact the world is ending is no news, but no one has quite grasped the sheer absurdity of today’s age quite like Izzy Camina. Her recent EP, ANG3L NUMB3RS, is an ode to the collective hysteria, a gently ironic exploration of new age spiritualism, and a hug to the generation that is constantly being thrown between the extremes of faith and cynicism. Weaving her sugary vocals through explosive jungle breaks and sharp-tongued lyrics, Camina’s vision is piercing and cathartic in its liberation. Eager to learn more, we spoke to the artist about all things rural, her creative process, and astrology as a tool for introspection.
Hey! What have you been up to these days?
Just navigating the music business after a long post-pandemic hiatus.
Yeah, a lot of damage was done – we are all still catching up…
Which is crazy to think about. There is a lot of aftershock. For me, and many other people, – especially the more detached and dissociative types – we just need a little longer to process stressful events.
I guess taking more time also allows for a deeper level of reflection.
How would you say this is manifested in ANG3L NUMB3RS?
I started writing these songs last spring, and after summer 2021 things really started opening up again and shifting back to normal. I had been living in rural California in a tiny town, and I finally decided that I should probably reinsert myself in society and keep doing music. I was very nomadic for a period of time, moving from New York to Berlin to Paris… When I finally settled last spring, I still felt very stressed out and confused, but also really excited. I was also distracting myself with a new love interest who is a real life-changing character. All these songs came to fruition around the same time last spring in Brooklyn.
How has it been to settle down after moving so much?
I knew that I had to stay put for an extended period of time for my own sanity, but I definitely hated being in a city. I’m from New Jersey, so Brooklyn is where I spent a lot of my teenage years and early twenties before moving back to the UK. It was weird moving back to an area that I considered home. It felt like I was regressing. In retrospect, it was good for me. Living in the countryside is all I ever wanted, but the city keeps on pulling me back.
And what is it about the countryside that draws you to it?
Probably just the fact that the most peaceful and harmonious memories came from staying at my grandmother’s house in the English countryside around Wales. It was such a novelty, and pure bliss. I guess I’m longing to return to that safe place. Just green rural hills. An escape.
I feel like this yearning to go back to nature and escape the chaos has been so prominent in our generation, and this rise of anarcho-primitivism is also something that is explored in your work. Along with topics like the re-emergence of astrology and druidism, why is it important for you to speak on this in your music?
The energetic differences between countryside life and city life are such a jarring shift. All the social and political stuff that happened during the pandemic and after is just so insane, with climate change being the backdrop. I think everybody is very scared, in their own way. Another pandemic could hit us at a drop of a hat – we have so little control over things, but we don’t have the structure or a community of religion. I think people are longing for something, and that’s why you see the rise in all the digital trends, like TikTok tarot reading, manifestation, astrology… The point is not whether it’s real or not; the point is that when you look closely, there are so many profiteers and sharks, and it’s just so obviously convoluted and removed from the source, that you can’t do anything but push further into nihilism. Even something so innate and beautiful like spirituality can be hijacked.
I suppose it mimics the progression of religion as well. Faith on a personal level can be a beautiful thing, but is likely to get ugly when it’s passed down from an institutional level – as its main principles get commodified…
Exactly. I guess this leads to the timeless archetype of the faux psychic who pulls out the crystal ball and beads and tells you what you want to hear for your money. You have to be very discerning. I try to be objective and retain a boundary of cynicism regarding this stuff, but at the same time, my dad was a pagan who was born in the UK. He was very into the whole Neo-Paganism stuff, and he’d teach me all these witch-y practices that I now take with me. It’s just sad to see these tools used to tap into people’s insecurities and fears.
There is a lot of nuance surrounding this in your work – it’s rooted in social commentary, but you speak with a tone that is simultaneously very personal, slightly satirical but also hopeful. How do you find your balance?
I’m still working on it, but I think the main thing is trying to be super patient with myself and others. If I find myself indulging in a positive affirmation YouTube video with ads every 30 seconds, as long as I’m drawing something helpful from it, it can’t be bad. I’m such an astrology girl myself, I’m 28 now and I started when I was 17 – I’m so deep into it.
I have to ask – what’s your sign?
I’m a textbook Aquarius, just a weirdo, ha-ha. So, yeah, I’m just trying to stay grounded and use all these archetypes, specifically astrology and tarot archetypes as tools for introspection. It’s like an ink blob test – you look at the archetype and the symbolism, and decide what you can draw from it and what can help you examine yourself better. I’m always trying to be constructive and positive, while maintaining this boundary of cynicism –because you can really start going cuckoo without it.
I suppose alongside going cuckoo there also comes a point where you start shifting the responsibilities of your actions to a force beyond your control.
For sure. I feel like we’re learning again, learning about folk traditions and the spiritual world and all these things – the phenomena that perhaps will be explained by science one day. But until then, we have to be easy on ourselves and others in trying to navigate how to cope in this world.
Coming back to your work, I love your lyrics, / Pluto sodomises Mars up in the sky, Together in a lunar dance it’s something so divine/ – it’s uncomfortable yet so poetic. Could you talk me through what this means to you and your process of writing?
I’ve always been captivated by the archetypes in astrology. I grew up really into Greek mythology – it was my special interest as a kid. I’m really drawn to the masculine archetypes of Pluto and Mars. Pluto always exerts more control over any other archetype – it represents consumption of existence, transforming it into something new. So, I see this symbol of energetic power exchange as something so beautiful and soft and romantic – Pluto is consuming Mars in a beautiful way, and maybe refining Mars by removing all the things that are no longer constructive. The same way we grow and kill older versions of ourselves when we enter a relationship. I like taking something uncomfortable and making it beautiful.
So, it’s a personal metaphor?
Definitely. And I just like the idea of two masculine domineering forces in a romance versus a traditional dynamic of sub and dom.
Within this, is music-making a way for you to connect with the world more intensely, or to escape from it?
Both. It’s all both. The song on my first EP, UP N DOWN, captures everything, still. It’s just the nature of life itself. You go round and round, and you try to reason and compartmentalise and say this is how I escape or this is how I understand. Music for me is an escape and a deep analysis at an arm’s length, while doing something that I love.
Sonically, ANG3L NUMB3RS sounds a lot more chaotic than your earlier works. Was this a conscious choice?
I was just generally feeling pretty apathetic about music. While I was living rural, I was considering going back to studying and pursuing something completely unrelated to music. Then, through a very funny and random chains of emails, I somehow met Aaron, who co-produced this EP. My first EP was completely self-produced, which I guess gives it a more feminine touch. This new EP has a lot of Aaron’s touch, which I really welcomed. I wouldn’t have put the EP out if it weren’t for him constantly chasing me and pushing me to get things done. We were just feeding off of each other, and the more chaotic part of him encouraged that side of me as well. Of course, it was also driven by the chaos of settling after all the nomadism and my feelings catching up with me.
The EP can also be perceived as quite aggressive and dark. Should we see it that way?
Definitely. As I got older, I began really reconciling the softness and the darkness. It would be totally dysfunctional if I just repressed all the shadows and realities of my childhood, adolescence, and how all the experiences I’ve had affect me as an adult and how they will continue to affect me. My outlook is always going to be coloured by that, and unfortunately, it’s dark. We also live in quite a dark world, where it’s a privilege to be soft and gentle. I’m more of a hardass, I don’t often indulge in my softness. I allow it and hold space for it, but I also take pride in my toughness. I guess I always try to transmute the shit into something powerful and a tool of helping myself and others. Sorry, this was a bit of a self-indulgent monologue.
Don’t apologise – that’s literally what an interview is, ha-ha! I also love the visual aspect of your work and the DIY feel of it. Can you tell me more about your approach to it?
From a business perspective, you always have to have a strong visual aspect to complement your music when publishing online. So, for me, it’s a matter of creating artwork that doesn’t feel like it’s just content for the sake of content. My mum used to be a filmmaker and I grew up immersed in visual art and film, so it comes easily to me. My long-term goal is to start doing more higher-budget projects that are more powerful. I have an arsenal of ideas and I think it’s so important for music and video to exist in tandem. When they synergise, you get a piece of a very impactful piece of art. As for DIY, it’s just working with what I have, which can push you creatively. Often, I’ll find more symbolism and learning about myself through the process of visual creation.
Time for a speed round! What is your guilty pleasure?
Lying in bed and doing absolutely nothing.
Making it this far. Ugh, I sound so emo.
What’s on the horizon?
Global domination. Global druidist domination.