Diary Of A Songwriter: Izo FitzRoy

Izo FitzRoy. Photo: Kenny McKracken
Izo FitzRoy. Photo: Kenny McKracken

Izo FitzRoy: “I think I’m at my happiest and most free when I’m creating.” Photo: Kenny McKracken

Studio recordings, live shows, album pre-orders and radio interviews – it’s a busy time for the singer, songwriter and pianist

Izo FitzRoy is a singer, songwriter and pianist from London with two albums under her belt. With their contemporary take on jazz, soul, and blues, Skyline and How The Mighty Fall presented a modern artist with an age-old spirit who has something new to say. Upcoming album A Good Woman is a part-autobiographical examination of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. FitzRoy says of the release, “I tried to look at the myriad of ways that women, (myself included), have given away their autonomy and power to institutions, labels and people.”

Latest single Chasing Days showcases FitzRoy’s formidable vocals and pays tribute to the inspiring and tenacious women she grew up with. The album is due to be released on 28 April, the preceding few months have been a busy time for the singer-songwriter. Filled with live shows, promotional duties and the nervous wait before fans get to hear the new songs – it all makes for a fascinating diary entry…

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08 FEBRUARY 2023

It’s Wednesday, it’s chronically early – 4am, my brain is already on full alert. A mixture of excitement, and a heap of underlying panic knowing that I’ll be in charge of coordinating 15 people in the studio today. I can hear my dog snoring quite loudly on her back, four paws straight up looking like she has rigor mortis. I get an enormous brew of coffee on.

At 9am I arrive at Pool Studios and meet Billy the engineer to start working out where everyone’s going to go. It’s a bloody lovely space. A lot to distract you visually, including some quite strange kids’ paintings on the walls and a whole host of vintage keyboards and organs to make you dribble. The band starts to trickle in and we all get set up; the grand piano’s just been tuned and is sitting in pride of place in the centre of the room.

Izo FitzRoy. Photo: Kenny McKracken

Izo FitzRoy: “I’m rarely organised myself, so to be in charge of up to ten people on the road causes me serious stress.” Photo: Kenny McKracken

There’s a palpable nervousness in the room as we begin, Jodie [Canwell] moves about the room filming us and it feels a bit like Grandmother’s Footsteps, as soon as the camera is turned away lyrics are almost always forgotten, singers are in hysterics. Chasing Days is the first song to be recorded, it’s a vibe. There’s a massive disco ball spinning above us. We seem to be racing through the six tracks fairly painlessly, albeit everyone looks absolutely knackered, but that good sort of knackered when you know you’ve used your brain well.

11 FEBRUARY 2023

We are off to Corsica to play a gig. I’m tour managing this trip much to the band’s displeasure. More often than not I’m celebrated for prioritising really good places to eat but they’re often annoyed when I never seem to know where or when we’re supposed to be at the venue. It’s probably my least favourite part of the job, I’m rarely organised myself, so to be in charge of up to ten people on the road causes me serious stress. Ajaccio is beautiful, quite derelict and empty – off-season. Really lovely being nestled in between the mountains and the sea.

The audience is raucous. We always have a little gospel moment where we encourage them to sing in harmony. These guys need no encouragement, they were up on their feet singing loudly clapping enthusiastically offbeat and heckling. A lot of band side-eyeing each other and grinning.

17 FEBRUARY 2023

Album pre–order is announced. Oooof. It’s always a weird feeling for me, releasing new music, new projects. Something that initially feels very personal, very private and something just for me, is then in the public domain and is free to be anyone’s interpretation. I think I’m at my happiest and most free when I’m creating, or in the studio so the “limbo patch” before the album’s ready to be toured or the full album is out for consumption always feels a bit like pulling teeth. There are expectations, I then try to fight against a flurry of anxiety by trying to feign ambivalence and being “laid-back”. Never lasts long…

Izo FitzRoy. Photo: Kenny McKracken

Izo FitzRoy: “I don’t like sitting down and just writing a song for writing a song’s sake anymore.” Photo: Kenny McKracken

25 FEBRUARY 2023

I’m chatting today with Marlene Kuster on German radio. We spoke once before during the pandemic but the interview never aired. It’s really lovely catching up three years later and documenting the journey from there until now. She is a very curious and philosophical woman, and I really enjoy that her questions feel quite abstract compared to the usual, ‘Tell me about your album?’ fluff.

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We go straight into what makes men feel so attacked when women talk about patriarchy or any sort of personal struggle that involves men. She likes hearing about women’s experiences with men in the music industry. She is warm and charismatic and I’d rather be asking her questions if I’m honest. She’s sat in what looks like a conservatory with a dog on her lap smoking a cigarette, with fabulous spectacles on. It’s very easy conversation and her questions are helping me become more clear on what my album is really about. I know that sounds a bit daft but this album was very much written inside out so the understanding of what it was that I’d written – came last.

I need to start thinking about my next album. It’s a process that takes me into a very introspective and silent space. It’s also the most frustrating space because it’s very murky. I don’t like sitting down and just writing a song for writing a song’s sake anymore. I prefer for images or colours to bubble up from my subconscious and to try and make sense of them. It feels a bit more dreamlike and also gets me out of writing in a formulaic way. It means a lot of hours lost at a piano, a lot of swearing, coffee, doodling, dog walking, more piano, more swearing and if I’m lucky a little smidge of an idea.

Izo FitzRoy’s new single Chasing Days is out now with her album A Good Woman following on 28 April via Jalapeno Records. FitzRoy will also be playing a handful of live shows in April, May and June. All the details can be found at izofitzroy.com

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