by Thomas Bedward March 27, 2020
A keen blues musician following in the footsteps of the greats, Izzie’s Caravan recently made their mark with an enchanting sophomore EP, ‘Zephyrs’. It was a release that put the artist firmly on our radar, earmarking them as one of the blues and modern rock’s most promising independent talents.
Armed with a wonderfully unique sound, Izzie’s Caravan looks set to become a global name, and with plans to a release a third EP well in place, we couldn’t think of a better time to get better acquainted.
Great to have you here, thanks so much for your time. How did you first start making music? Where did it all begin for Izzie’s Caravan?
Rewinding time to when I was growing up, I think 'culture' was a lot more defined and less fragmented as it is today. So having these definitive memories of watching Star Wars as my first movie or listening to 'Money For Nothing' by Dire Straits as a very young child, was always a traceable origin point that has consistently defined my identity. Those powerful drums followed by that insane guitar riff had such a profound effect on me, after that, I always knew that guitar would have some part to play in my life.
It was around 2004, I believe, when I started a three-piece rock outfit called The Deep Impacters along with Sim on vocals and guitar and Ray on bass. Of course, that era was characterised more by naïveté, the excessive love of inexpensive beer and camaraderie as much as the music was. Needless to say, that didn't go anywhere, although it could have! After that, for good or for bad, I actually fell out of love with music in general. I was very disillusioned as to where music was headed and the commercialisation of the guitar where I actually didn't pick it up for over a decade.
Fast forward to maybe a couple of years back, I got the encouragement from some close friends and I figured "Why not?" If nothing else, it could be an interesting therapeutic exercise in mid-life. And from there one thing led to another, a rediscovery of authentic blues, 'Leo's Guitar' came out in December of 2019, 'Zephyrs' just recently in February of 2020...and here I am today.
Clearly, the guitar plays a huge part in your music, but there’s such a change in form between your two EP’s so far. How would you best describe your sound for the uninitiated?
As a poor-mans interpretation of Buddy Guy and Lightnin' Hopkins! Honestly though, most of the confidence I got to do this came from listening to Lightnin's records. To me, he was the complete artist where he had the words and the sound and he performed them in this fearless way which was really captivating. Having had that rubbed off on me, I've really tried to keep the guitar and bass playing as raw and gritty as possible. I generally don't like the over-polished sound... I much rather prefer searching for notes in that moment and capturing that in my recordings. Most of what ends up on the record was live, or on-the-spot anyway.
I think part of the 'fearless' aspect was to free myself from the limitations we have nowadays where somehow the guitar has ended up being a competitive sport and the endless debates on speed and technical proficiency. I just feel playing with this level of freedom lends to a more natural 'conversational' sound and feel to the song which is perfect for blues playing. In terms of tone, I'm a Fender fanatic and the hardest part is deciding which Strat or Tele to use on the day.
To my ears at least there’s something so appealing about their tone and even when recording, it's going through this constant process of trying to 'tame' the Strat which really keeps you on your toes... It's just so much fun!
Sounds like an exciting way to create! Obviously, Fender and Lightnin’ Hopkins are your biggest influences, but are there any others that might not be immediately apparent in your music?
I actually consider myself very fortunate as far as influences are concerned. Growing up it was, of course, listening to the likes of Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, the Stones and just being in awe of the phenomenal musicianship coming out of these bands. Growing up a few decades back, as a fan, I'd really get invested in the lives of these musicians, so somewhere I started really getting drawn to band members who weren't in the spotlight... guys like Izzie Stradlin and Brad Whitford whose personalities aligned with my introvert personality. Later on, John Frusciante was a huge influence, and JJ Cale as well.
The great thing though is that rock ‘n’ roll is always a journey, and when I started reverting back to the roots more and more, particularly when I picked up the guitar again, discovering the blues artists was such a life-changing experience. Going through hours and hours of records and live performances of Stevie Ray, Clapton, and then tracing that lineage back to John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters... it’s as if there was this world beyond the macro-world full of these great musicians. But the one guy that really changed everything for me was Buddy Guy... 'Stone Crazy!', enough said! Just listening to him is such an exercise in humility and recognition, that he, and these greats, reached such a phenomenal level of their craft, and we're so lucky that we can sit and talk about their contributions to art in such reverence.
Your latest EP ‘Zephyrs’ was such a personal and wonderfully expressive release, what’s next for you? Is it too early to start planning out another release?
Honestly, after I released 'Zephyrs' I was thinking it might time to take a break from recording, but that all soon changed when I started practising and playing around in general. I had a bunch of ideas lying around so that's now got me working on the third EP which is titled 'On The Pull'. This one is a definite back to the blues record, and already I can tell it’s just going to be a very, very raw, very dirty record, and I really want to try and push the boundaries a bit in terms of the lyrical themes as well. I'm already getting excited about it because it's reverting back to form after 'Zephyrs' which was such a shift in gears. Hopefully, I should have it done and available by May this year.
Another EP sounds great to us, we’ll be front row and centre for the release! I know there’s a very personal element to your songwriting, would you consider that to be the most important part of writing a song?
It has to be an introspective experience, so to speak. It has to mean something to me more than anything else! I don't have the ability to write a generic song because I wouldn't know how to construct the lyrics to it. I've always believed that the experience of writing a song has to be built around trying to capture human experiences grounded in reality, honest human stories which in that moment affect my sensibilities and conscience.
If we take the ‘Leo’s Guitar’ EP, 'Two In The Bush' and 'Lightnin’s-a-Howlin' are just basic commentary on the advantages that the elite possess and how to get by on a day-to-day basis by playing the blues, while 'Dorian's Lament' is my personal experience of keeping grounded to my roots while dealing with a world that’s socially and technologically evolving at a rapid pace. Sometimes it seems most of my lyrics and song-ideas end up coming from just watching the news.
Thank you so much for your time, it’s been absolutely fantastic chatting with you. Are there any messages you’d like to leave our fans with, any words of wisdom or advice?
I'd really like to send out a message to musicians and artists who are dealing with online 'trolling'. It's sad that there's such harshness out there sometimes and that can be a deterrence to young musicians learning their craft, or even great artists who may just choose not to promote themselves.
Be yourself! As a severe introvert, it has always been difficult for me to publicise or promote my music, but once you realise that it’s your own creation and it’s something you will carry with you forever, own it and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. We live in a world of arbitrary opinions and most of them are irrationally harsh. It’s important to believe in what you do and what you create!
I'd just also like to add that we live in very challenging and complex times. What recently really affected me were the tragic events in Australia with the fires, and I was quite torn with the loss of millions and millions of animals. It's a great tragedy of our time and in solidarity with the great people of Australia who work so hard to rescue and protect our vulnerable friends, I'd like to dedicate 'Tracii’s Ballad' to you. Thank you for your service.
A wonderfully captivating release that we said had “an unshakable sense of wonder and romance,” Izzie’s Caravan’s new EP, ‘Zephyrs’ is available on most major streaming sites, and you can read our full review of the captivating release on our website by clicking here.
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