Berlin-based dark pop singer, songwriter and producer Irys shared her brand new single ‘Circles’, out now on all streaming platforms.
Naming acts like Boy Harsher and The Weekend as inspiration, Irys draws from her combined influences, thriving on being able to experiment with her music and the concepts and emotions she’s able to portray, totally owning her own brand of gutsy, bold alt-pop. Speaking of the track, she says, “Some years ago, I lived through a quite dark time in my life; I was depressed and had ruminating thoughts in my head 24/7! A bit of a frightening experience, and I’m happy that’s over! In “Circles” I tried to process how it feels to have your brain under high pressure. I did this by creating an energetic track with repetitive elements to mirror the ruminating thoughts in my mind.”
We caught up with IRYS to learn more about how “Circles” came about, her creative process, and more.
Aditya – Hey IRYS, Welcome to this edition of T.H.E – Interviews! How’s 2021 been for you so far?
IRYS – Hey there, and thank you! 2021 has been really productive for me so far. I started putting out my music in March and have been super busy since. And there’s lots of new stuff coming up still this year! So with all the challenges the pandemic has brought, this forced pause was an artistically essential time for me that allowed me to focus and realize my plans without distractions.
Aditya – ‘Circles’ is unique in it’s own way, it’s rare that I come across a track like this! Tell us about this tune.
IRYS – Thank you! “Circles “came about a bit different from most of my tracks, as I initially thought of it as an instrumental. I had the synth riff first and then built a track around it and finally added vocals. “Circles “is about having ruminating thoughts in your head 24/7, which is something I experienced through a period of depression some years ago. I tried to process this experience musically by creating something repetitive, dark, and melodic at the same time.
Aditya – What’s ‘IRYS’’ persona?
IRYS – I’d say IRYS is pop and underground at the same time. I love the boldness and aesthetics of pop and the roughness and darkness of underground electronic music and goth. By combining both worlds in my music, I try to bring together something that seems contradictory in the first place. Also, I would say IRYS is a Warrior! My songs are often about challenges I had in my life, and I feel by making something beautiful out of the bad things I experienced, I can turn them around and get stronger!
Aditya – What kind of a singer would you classify yourself as?
IRYS – I see my voice more like one instrument among others. As I record all my vocals in my home studio, I can be intuitive and free when singing. For me, a good vocal must contribute to the atmosphere of a track and not necessarily be the main character. I generally prefer a more laid-back way of singing, and actually like my voice best in the morning when I just got up!
Aditya – What’s your creative process like?
IRYS – I often record the melodies I have in my head all day long with my phone and then pick one later and work with it. Or I open a project in Ableton and start with a baseline or play some chords on my guitar. I have so many song ideas that the writing comes easy to me. Working on the arrangement and sound design then takes the most time. The lyrics I usually add last, ’cause when I have developed a feel for a song, I automatically know what it will be about. Lyrics are important for me, but I don’t like to tell stories; I rather try to create images with my words.
Aditya – How many instruments do you play and which is the first instrument you picked up?
IRYS – I, of course, started with the flute when I was a kid! Then, when I was 12, I learned to play guitar, and it is my main instrument to this day. The guitar also feels like a “soulmate “, as I’m very much connected to myself playing guitar. But I find it creatively more interesting to make songs in my DAW due to all the sonic possibilities. I see Ableton also as one of my instruments! Then I play a bit of keys, but on a fairly basic level.
Aditya – You write, produce, record, and master your tracks. Oh girl, you are a powerhouse! How do you manage to do all this?
IRYS – Haha, thank you! It’s maybe because I really enjoy being my own boss! Being able to work on my own terms feels like a reward in itself. So, in a way, this balances out the hard work. But I guess I’m also just a bit obsessive by nature – very little ever interests me, but if I like something, I go all in! Initially, producing was quite a challenge, of course, as I started with literally no other technical knowledge than recording my songs on my phone! So I had to put in the hours. But now, I’m at a point where I have established some good routines in my production process. There’s still room for improvement, but I feel more relaxed in my craft. What also helps me big time is having a reasonable day structure and taking good care of my body and mental health.
Aditya – Since you’re a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and producer, would you like to share some tips for the self-learning musicians and producers?
Irys – Sure! I find it important to be self-aware. If you go on this journey by yourself, it will be lots of work, but you have the freedom to do whatever you want! Working hard and persistently is essential, but don’t burn yourself out. It’s also helpful to let projects rest when you feel stuck; you will often know what to do some days later. Then search yourself a partner in crime, someone you can talk to on your journey who also hustles and cheers you on. But be conscious about who you let into your life! Many people might not understand your obsession, or they don’t believe in themselves enough to support others with big goals. So positive and supportive people only! Then take care of your mental health ’cause a strong mind is probably the single most helpful “tool” there is. There will be chaos and frustration, and being mentally resilient is key for keeping going!
Aditya – From the Bavarian Mountains to the capital Berlin! How do you feel after the move? Did it help your music career?
IRYS – In the beginning, the city felt overwhelming! All the noises, smells, and people. You’re never entirely alone ’cause you always see people. This took me some time to adapt to! Now I feel I need the busyness to a certain degree. But I love to come back to the mountains as often as I can. Did moving to Berlin help my music career? I’d say yes and no! In the beginning, I got somewhat distracted by all the possibilities, events, and people. And I learned that many have big ideas but relatively little going on. This taught me how I didn’t want to work. Also, I grew a much thicker skin and learned to carve out my own path! So I initially moved to the city to find the right people for my project – to discover that I can actually do shit by myself! I still love Berlin, though, at least in summer, ’cause the winter here can be really nasty!
Aditya – There’s a clear imbalance of women in the music industry, and you’re definitely an inspiration for that. How do you feel about that?
IRYS – Like many women who pursue music, I have gone through experiences I wish I wouldn’t have had. It’s no coincidence that I do my project independently and produce myself. So I guess there were and still are many things inherently wrong about that industry. But I feel it starts to change a bit lately; more female producers are coming up and cool women who push their projects independently. But then I read the other day that women still only produce 2% of the music we listen to! That’s, of course, a ridiculously low number and shows that there’s still a long way to go. I hope as many women as possible will do their own thing, and I’m hoping for a diverse and exciting musical future, where the outdated structures of the industry are a thing of the past.
Aditya – Lastly, which is your favorite beer?
IRYS – Haha, an essential question for a Bavarian! If you had asked me some years ago, I’d have probably said “Augustiner!” – but I guess I had too many of those to call it still my favorite beer. Now, I actually prefer a good white wine over beer!