Born in Brazil and now based in Baltimore, alternative-rock singer-songwriter I Am Night is making a wave in the underground indie music scene. And with a powerful voice and honest take on life, it’s clear the musician will soon be hitting the big time. We talk to her about everything music, her new EP and getting through depression.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Brazilian from Campo Grande, MS. I’m 22, Slytherin, Capricorn and am obsessed with Avatar The Legend of Aang and The Smiths. I would say this is me in a nutshell.
You make alternative rock music. What is it about that genre that you love?
I honestly can’t explain why I love alternative rock so much. I wanna relay on a Seth Stevens-Davidowitz study that says that our musical taste from when we were 13-14 years old will pretty much dictate what we listen to for the rest of our lives. All I did back then was listen to Anberlin and Paramore, so... I guess that’s what happened. Also, alt rock is simply phenomenal.
Who have your influences been and why?
I would say Anberlin, Paramore, The Smiths, and Royal Blood as it was American/British rock bands that introduced me to the English language and to a more international sound. But also, Charlie Brown Jr, Scalene and Supercombo as Brazilian bands whom I grew up with and carry all the Brazilian influences that I try to bring to my songs. I believe it’s important for me to carefully balance what I listen to, in order to deliver something original and worldly appealing while still respecting my heritage.
You were born in Brazil but now live in Baltimore. How do the two differ?
Well, honestly, not much. Unfortunately, we have very similar social situations going on in both places. Baltimore and Brazil (specially São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro) have close numbers on violence and drug trafficking on the streets. But those big cities also offer tremendous cultural baggage. As an upside, Brazil is huge on Samba and MPB (Music Popular Brasileira), while Baltimore displays an amazing underground scene featuring rap and heavy metal music.
What was the music scene like for you growing up?
I actually had the privilege to grow up when both of my parents were active touring musicians. So in one side I had my mom leading Carnival Tours singing nationally popular music like “axé” and “MPB” and in the other, I had my dad playing with local legends from my hometown, such as Jerry and Tetê Espíndola, and creating what they would later call “Polka Rock”. It was so enriching to gather all that music experience and knowledge and combine it with what was trending back then: Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne and the best band of the entire world, Charlie Brown Jr (Brazilian).
What is one of your earliest memories?
I remember this specific day when I was a toddler going home from school on our dirt road and getting super excited that my mom was home earlier that day. We were super poor and my parents had to work second side hustles to complement their musician income, but I didn’t care. I was happy to have them both by my side.
What is one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to you?
I am actually very proud of this! On Oct 17th of 2018, my brother and I went to Johnny Marr’s concert (the ex-guitarist of The Smiths). We weren’t expecting him to play the entire Smiths setlist of course, since he has his own solo works, but when he did, we as an audience couldn’t help but to sing along and smile. Like, a lot. I couldn’t stop smiling. And after 1:30 hours of singing and smiling at him, he looked at me and smiled back. That just made my day. Johnny Marr, if you ever read this... Know that I keep your smile in my heart.
As a musician, what have the highlights and lowlights been?
The main highlight for me is getting to know tremendously good musicians and having them share their love, knowledge, and background of music with me. It’s an incredible feeling. The main lowlight for me would be the fact that most of the time, an indie musician career is not financially viable and we gotta stick to our side hustles. It’s a price to pay (quite literally), but we can work it out.
You are just about to release your debut EP ‘Returning’. Can you tell us about the EP?
That EP was conceived after years of internal struggle about my own musical identity. I always knew I wanted to be a musician, but it took me so long to figure out what type of music I should do. I would always try to guide my ideas towards what I thought it would sound artsy or hip. Like I needed the whole world to like what I was doing.
This EP happened when I grabbed all of my unfiltered ideas and laid them out in the studio. I just ignored all these needs for external validation and spoke my mind. That’s why we have alternative rock tracks, jazzy bridges, sad progressive songs, and heavy vocals on this EP. Because I am all of this. This is the real me - not more, not less. Making this EP was the process of rediscovering myself, as an artist and as a person. It was the process of “Returning” to my own genesis.
What is your favourite track on it?
I am always changing between “Delayed Afterlight” and “Let It Go”. I guess it has to be “Let It Go”. That is the first song I ever wrote about something positive such as finding hope within yourself. I know it sounds silly to sing about hope given the almost apocalyptic state of our world right now, but it just feels right. Besides, that instrumental track is a blast! It was inspired by the genius of the “The Contortionist” band and the way they carry their harmonies and tempo changes to create a thousand atmospheres inside one single song. It’s like they’re telling a chaotic and twisted story.
That’s what I attempted to do right there: an empty verse with no harmony, then vocals building us up to something. Cut to the climax of Charles Owens’s sax solo and the energetic punk ending. Again, I might not have done much in my life, but this song is something. At least, to me.
The track ‘What I Am’ reflects on your depression. How has music helped you get through this period in your life?
It was a literal escape from the real world. I am afraid of what I could have done to myself if it wasn’t for unloading all of that psychological burden on something outside of myself. It’s funny that you asked that, because I have an unpublished song that I wrote when I wasn’t able to attend therapy for several weeks. The track is nothing but an outburst of feelings and situations I was going through on that moment. It’s not commercial or catchy, it's just a bunch of sadness. Maybe one day I’ll publish it. It might show someone else that we’re on the very same boat.
What advice do you give to people experiencing similar feelings?
Talk to someone. I couldn’t stress that enough. If you don’t open up about these dark feelings inside of you, they will devour you alive. No one has to know; it can be just you and your therapist. You can look up therapy clinics that will adjust their cost to fit your monthly income. But please: don’t underestimate what these thoughts can do to your life. They can destroy you. You have to stay on top of your mental health - and you only do it with professional help.
How has lock down affected you over the past few months?
Oh, it has taken a toll on my mental health, for sure. I bet part of the world population is psychologically struggling with this whole scenario as well. In my case, the isolation aspect is the worst. I didn’t know I would miss social interactions that much, to be honest. Well, that and live concerts. Some days are simply better than others.
You’ve gone from working 12 hour shifts in a restaurant to releasing your own EP. How does that feel?
It feels pretty awesome, actually. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working side hustles. But there was a change on my perspective about priorities. I could still be working 12 hours shifts and making nice money, for the cost of having no time to think about my dreams and aspirations. Or I could work a couple of days a week, make less money and have time to go after what I really wanna do. I’ve come to the conclusion that no one is going to do anything for any of us. We gotta stop, rethink our steps, and go after what we want. The World doesn’t care about our happiness. We might as well not care about what they think about us and live for ourselves.
Why did you decide to call yourself I AM NIGHT?
This name came essentially from my personal admiration for the Greek goddess “Nyx” (or “Nox” in roman mythology) - the guardian of the Night and the witches. What happens to be a pleasant surprise, since it references my double cultural baggage: the annunciation of the word “Night” said by a Portuguese speaker sounds like “Nati”, my common nickname in Brazil.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Definitely more songs in the future. I’m working non-stop on more tracks to possibly come up with a full album in a year. Also looking forward to collaborating with other artists and just delivering the best work that I can.
See what else I Am Night is up to on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.