Interview – Indiana talks her new album, videos and Forest
Lauren Henson, more commonly known as Indiana, has just taken the first big leap of her career with the release of her new album, ‘No Romeo’. We at The Mic caught up with her after her intimate gig for URN in Mooch for a little chat about No Romeo, her upcoming tour and how Nottingham Forest runs deep in her veins.
Firstly, congratulations on the release of your debut album, ‘No Romeo’. How does it feel?
It’s definitely a relief to finally have it out there and it’s really positive to have a positive response from it. I mean my Twitter feeds constantly going.
Where did the inspiration come from for the title?
I had No Romeo in my head for a while and then it kinda made sense when I thought about my songs that I’m not a love-song kind of girl, I don’t write love songs, and then I thought ‘I am No Romeo’ so it’s a pseudonym for myself.
It’s interesting to see you have no featured artists, which is great for fans as they get to see you behind every song. Did it ever occur to you this was the case and is there anyone currently you’d be interested in creating a song with?
Erm, I thought in the very early stages of my career, let’s do that, but I’ve gotten this far on my own merit so I’ll stick it out on my own. Obviously, if Prince phoned me up I wouldn’t say no!
I’ve heard about your adventurous lifestyle what with dirt-bike riding and doing up other bikes. Do you find that this excitement and adrenaline helped your song writing or do you like to keep the two separate? I’ve noticed you’re quite passionate and you in a way telling a story behind every song.
I do yeah. Yeah, I don’t relate one to the other. I like being adventuorous and doing creative things, my boyfriend rides bikes and I’m like ‘ooh i’ll have a go’. My boyfriend’s got a Honda 1985 CRV I think, he bought it and it was a two seater so he was like “we’ll go ride on it babe!” Now he’s done it up and there’s no longer any room for me. The seats tiny and there’s no pegs for me so I’m like ‘oh, cheers!’
I understand John Beck was the one who discovered your talent when he caught one of your covers on YouTube. Did you find it hard to make a breakthrough before then?
I don’t think I was trying. I just knew I wasa creative person and I enjoyed writing music so I was just putting it out there to see what people think. When he got in touch with me and we started working together I realised “Oh wow, this is what I’m meant to be doing!”
We were watching your video for ‘Solo Dancing’ the other night and it suddenly dawned on us that there’s a theme of innuendo running through it. Can you confirm this and where did you draw your influences?
Specifically for the ‘Solo Dancing video, I actually didn’t come up with that treatment, I have for every other video but for that particular one, the director came up with the idea. The song is actually about empowerment and standing on your own two feet and not relying on anyone else and if you want to do something on your own don’t think you need to be with someone. He was like ‘ooh, shall we do it so it means like, “masturbation”. It came across that it was quite hard to get your head round, and I’m quite a random person so it’s a video about random things. So now some people are thinking I just write about masturbation when I’m not, ha!
Were you quite disappointed when he brought that idea in or was that idea in the back of your mind?
I didn’t think that it would overshadow the actual meaning of the song as much as it had, but it’s a talking point for people so!
I showed it to my house mate and within 25 seconds he turned to me and was like ‘I know what that’s about!’. When it came to the shot of you flicking ‘Mr Bean’s’ head, we knew.
Ha, yeah that one is a bit of a dead giveaway.
Your songs have an eerie, taboo edge to them at times and what I’ve noticed is that this spills across into the music videos. Taking ‘Animal’, back from 2013 as an example, the video features raw human emotion and to me your facial expressions alone tell a spine-chilling story. Are you heavily involved with the visual side of your videos then, excluding ‘Solo Dancing’?
Animal is a song about a victim and an abuser and I wanted to portray it with integrity, which is why the person in the video has got a rabbit’s mask on; it’s actually my boyfriend in the video! I didn’t want to just be like, the guy is the abuser, I just wanted it to be a thing, not a guy or a girl, just a horrible being. I tried to give my best performance, but yeah I have a massive say in everything creative-wise and I’ve started editing videos myself, I like to be very hands-on. I sometimes find it self-indulgent and cringe-worthy, I have to pretend it’s not me and see if this looks good and credible. When I’m writing my music I like to think about the video at the same time.
Some might say that your song-matter and themes are a bit ‘risqué’. You said yourself with ‘Solo Dancing’ that it wasn’t your original idea but has anyone ever told you that you’ve gone too far?
I know erm, ‘Bound’ is quite risqué, it’s about sadomasochism. But I kinda think that maybe there’s a part of me that likes that, I don’t live it out every day but in my song I can put this dominatrix hat on and I’m like ‘what am I doing today? Ah whips and chains’. I have fun with it and push more boundaries when in real life I’m in my pyjamas watching Coronation Street telling James to get off me.
Forest or County?
FOREST! My grandpa was a sub-goalie before the war for Forest and my Dad’s had a season ticket for as long as I can remember.
Have you ever been to a game?
I’ve never been to a football match unfortunately. I saw it on the tele watching the scores and that but I was looking for Soccer AM ’cause they played Solo Dancing!
What advice can you give to budding new musicians, even the ones just starting out?
Well, if they’re in Nottingham there’s loads of outlets that you can express your creativity. You’ve got Red Rooms and Open-Mic Nights and Nusic really support up and coming artists, they do seminars and competitions. What I can really say has helped is BBC Introducing, that’s why I’m here because I uploaded my music to their app. Find the means to record, I was just playing on my piano and recording on my phone and anytime I recorded something I’d put it on YouTube. GarageBand is amazing on your phone, I’ve got a studio in my house and I still play around with it on my phone. You can make some beats up with that and then like, get a little recorder and it’s possible to make some music on that.
If we were to steal your iPod now, what 3 artists would we find?
Frank Ocean, The Drive Soundtrack and Prince.
You mentioned Prince is someone you grew up loving, would you consider a feature with Frank Ocean?
Yeah! He’s definitely up there with the people that I’d love to work with. I did a cover of ‘Swim Good’, through the time I was making the record I’d take in references to the studio or sit and direct tracks and try and replicate little bits and I definitely did that with Frank Ocean.
I’ve seen your Twitter feed and you’re getting praise from around the world, I noticed Thailand and the USA. If you were to play in any city in the world, where would you pick and why?
That’s a tough question, I’m sat here thinking ‘Where is the world’. Probably America, Madison Square Garden. I think you’ve made it if you’ve done that.
You’ve already played some of the biggest festivals, which festival would you like to play? Will we be seeing you on the Glastonbury main stage in the next couple years?
I’d hope to get Glastonbury but let’s just see how the record goes. I think I’ve exhausted my BBC Introducing Stages now and it takes a lot to get asked to do stages higher up on a bill.
It’s nice that you’re still doing the little intimate gigs, with a smaller stage you get a real feel from the crowd, like an atmosphere.
Yeah, I remember they asked somebody to come back one year at Glastonbury and do the Introducing stage, like a special guest. I’d do that if that was going.
2014 was an incredible year for you and 2015 looks set to be even better. What can we expect from your tour and the future?
Erm, I’m going to be more hands-on on tour because we’ve got longer to rehearse for it, I’m going to be playing more instruments on stage. I’ve got more confident so, singing songs and losing myself on stage. Expect a ballad, I think I might bring a ballad out.
I’ll be catching you at the Rock City gig; looks like I’m stalking you now.
No keep doing it, you’re the people who make it happen.
Thank you on behalf of every fan by the way, thanks for bringing out the album. It’s been a good wait but it’s been so worth it!
Aw thanks, finally it’s out ha! Thank you.
You can catch Indiana on her tour of the UK in May, which ends at our very own Rock City:
17th – DUBLIN – The Workmans Club
19th – GLASGOW – The Art School
20th – LEEDS – Wardrobe
21st – MANCHESTER – Academy
26th – PORTSMOUTH – Wedgewood Rooms
27th – OXFORD – O2 Academy 2
28th – LONDON – Scala
29th – NOTTINGHAM – Rock City
By Luke Matthews