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Q&A: LA-based singer-songwriter IRIS is a rising star with a unique sound

IRIS is an LA-based independent singer and songwriter. She was featured in LA Weekly, in which she shared, “I’m trying to do more fun pop-disco inspired things but also integrate more soul and rock vibes into it.” It is obvious when listening to her music that IRIS enjoys mixing several sounds, from older styles to new.

IRIS released her breakout single, “Crazy,” in 2019. On the track, she expresses she has fallen in love with everything about a significant other. She sings, “I’m not crazy / I’m just crazy about you.”

IRIS was a member of the rock band Linus Young before she debuted her solo career. Although she began her solo career a short time ago, she has had her fair share of appearances in the public and media. She was featured on Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet. Her talent has been highlighted by media outlets Pop Crave, Substream Mag, All Access Music and more.

IRIS is releasing her latest song, “Them,” on Wednesday, Dec. 16. The song consists of soulful vocals about wanting a significant other to accept her for everything she is, not just what is on the surface.

The Post sat down with IRIS to talk “Them,” Linus Young and more. 

The Post: The first studio track you released on Spotify was “Crazy” in 2019. It’s a stripped-down, slow song in which you explain your strong feelings for someone. Your vocals on this track are incredible. How do you think you have grown as an artist since this release?

IRIS: I definitely think that for me was something that shaped my sound, but from then until right now, what I'm focusing on is kind of doing more upbeat music, something a little bit more energetic — I mean music that talks about being inspired by yourself. I have another song coming out in a couple of days, and it's just about being true to yourself and having people love you for who you are. 

I definitely want to keep a positive message throughout all my music, but I think the sound has evolved. “Crazy” was more of a ballad song, and now, I'm trying to incorporate more dance-y, electronic sounds into my music. But I definitely don't want to steer too far away from it because I do like the organic sound of that as well. I try to like Infuse all of it together. 

TP: Your most streamed track on Spotify is “Wait,” which is a genre-bending track in which you express a stretched-out relationship that you just can’t let go of. Do you know why this is your most popular track?

I: Like you said, it’s genre-bending. It has kind of a pop influence, but a lot of it has a little country twang to it, too, which is kind of fun. It's interesting because like a lot of people that I've talked to, even family, are like, “I just love your voice and the way it sounds with a guitar. It's just like something about your voice with a guitar.” I never thought of it that way, but from a few people telling me that, I was like, “Well, hey, there's something to it.” I don’t know. Maybe like just the subject matter, too, is relatable.

TP: Your upcoming single, “Them,” releases Dec. 16. Your vocals are absolutely stunning on this track. You open up about the fact that in order for a relationship to work out, your significant other has to understand your demons and everything you hold up in your mind. What inspired this track? 

I: People see you one way, and maybe that's all they see. A lot of times, people don't get to know the real you. And that's why I think there are a lot of relationships that end up being, like, surface relationships because you just never get to know that real inner, troubled person. The song talks about having our inner demons, but you've got to love people for their good and their bad, you know?

TP: “Them” was written and produced alongside Trey Campbell, who works with big names like Celine Dion and Adam Lambert, and Malay, who works with Frank Ocean, Lorde and Sam Smith. What was the process of working with these talented people like?

I: I've known Malay for a long time, and he produced a lot of my music, even when I was in a band, so I'm pretty comfortable working with him. Trey is one of the easiest, coolest people to work with, and I think what makes it easy to work with them both is just that they're both really good listeners, and they both don't have any pretense of like, “This is what you should be doing.” They kind of just focus on you as the artist and bring out the best in you. 

I think that's why they do work with all these big artists. They let every artist shine in their own way. So I feel like any time I get in the room with them, it's effortless. 

TP: Your music is clearly genre-bending, as I mentioned earlier, because you incorporate modern pop-disco with rock chords and soulful vocals. What type of artist do you want to be known as going forward?

I: I never want to pigeonhole myself into one type of music. I feel like there are a lot of artists, like Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, that do different sides of themselves. Gaga’s A Star Is Born soundtrack album was kind of country/rock, and now she has Chromatica out and it's disco, crazy, fun, dance-y and kind of like what her first album was like. And then same with Taylor Swift: she started out country, then she went to pop and now she's doing singer-songwriter, vibe-y records. It's really cool to see artists like them doing stuff like that. It opens a lot of doors for people like me.

TP: You were formerly a member of the rock band Linus Young. How did your experience with the band help you grow artistically? 

I: It really got me out of my shell, especially being able to do some tours, being on the road and getting just comfortable with my voice. I feel like when I was in that band, I finally found my voice because for a long time before that, I was working with people that were just trying to push me, like, “You're cute and blonde, and you should sing pop music.” And I'm like, “OK. Yeah, I like pop music, but I don't think that's all I'm capable of doing.” 

TP: What are the biggest inspirations in your writing process? When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?

I: I was probably like 3 or 4 years old. I just loved Disney movies, and I did some choirs in school. I think honestly, my first solo I ever had, was the moment I was like, “OK, I want to do this. If I can't sing in front of my school, then I’ll never be able to do this.” I was really, really shy, actually, when I was young. I would hide behind my mom's leg. I think my first solo was when I was like 9 or 10 years old, and then from there, I just kept involving myself in anything that had to do with music. As far as choirs go, and musical theater, local bands, singing with my teachers, talent shows, like anything, literally anything I could do.

As far as inspiration goes, I like to focus on what's going on around me: what's happening in my life, what's happening in my friends' lives or family's lives, and kind of just get inspired by that. Also, sometimes it's the music that inspires me. Malay will play something, and I'm like, “You know what? I really want to have this kind of sound in my song. Like, this is the vibe I want to get.” Then, somehow, the music inspires the song, the lyrics, the melodies and everything like that.

TP: Are you working on your first studio album yet? What do you see in your future as an artist?

I: I feel like with COVID and everything, it's been kind of tough for everybody. I want people to be out. Like, I want people to be out to enjoy it and like not be stuck at home. I feel like some of these records I want to put out are going to be songs that I want to be played out so people could dance to them and have fun. So until then, I'm going to put out another single Wednesday on the 16th, and I want to put out one or two more little singles before an EP comes out.


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