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Isadora Eden Ditched Acoustic Music for Lush Dream Pop

Isadora Eden wrote her latest album in a tiny basement studio with a leaky ceiling.EXPAND
Isadora Eden wrote her latest album in a tiny basement studio with a leaky ceiling.
Sumner Erhard
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Isadora Eden wanted to shift from making folky singer-songwriter music to indie rock. As she started recording what would become her latest EP, All Night, more than two years ago, she hoped to create a sound inspired by multiple genres. She was listening to Alice in Chains’ Dirt twice a day at the time, and unfortunately, her songs sounded like it.

“It became something really grungy,” Eden says. “The first version of the EP sounded like ’90s alt-rock. I love ’90s alt-rock, and I was listening to a lot of it when I recorded the songs. But I wasn’t really going for that.”

So she scrapped the songs and went back to the drawing board to reimagine and re-record the tracks with the help of collaborators Sumner Erhard and Corey Coffman. The result is a collection of four wistful, low-key dream-pop songs she's releasing next month.

“I had a sound in my head,” she says. “But I’m not a drummer or a bass player or a producer, so the hardest part was finding people that could help me get the sound I was looking for.”

Eden wrote the lyrics, guitar parts, melodies and harmonies, then recorded a demo and sent it to Erhard, who added drum and bass sections. They wrote other instrumental parts together, with the EP taking about two years to complete.

“I wrote most of these songs while living in a tiny basement studio apartment where the ceiling leaked every time the upstairs neighbors took a shower,” she says. “Once, a dead mouse fell out of the kitchen ceiling.”

Isadora says the songs still have some loud/quiet/loud dynamic elements that one might find in ’90s alternative rock, but she finds the new recordings to be closer to the dream-pop/shoegaze she envisioned. She adds that throughout her time as a musician, she’s also taken inspiration from defunct Scottish indie-folk outfit Frightened Rabbit and Rhode Island band Daughters. She takes cues from solo acts Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy and Fenne Lily; old-school shoegaze band Slowdive also influences her.

“Someone described the EP as Fenne Lily meets Slowdive, which I think is an accurate representation of the influences,” she says. “It’s a mix of singer-songwriter influences and more shoegazing rock bands.”

Eden says that when she started playing music more seriously, she stuck to using just an acoustic guitar and her voice, an approach that resulted in a far more stripped-back sound than the deeper arrangements found on All Night. She recalls that her first session with a recording engineer involved a single microphone and two takes of three songs done over the course of an hour. It's a far cry from the two years she spent on her latest work.

“Only one of those songs is still up on Spotify,” she says. “‘Simple’ — that’s the name of the song, which is funny, because it is an incredibly simple song.”

She didn’t have any overarching theme in mind when writing the lyrics for the new EP, she says, but when she ponders the meaning of the individual songs, there are common ideas running through them.

“A lot of these songs deal with no longer believing in things that you used to, but missing the way that it felt to believe them — knowing it was the right choice to let go of something, but missing it anyways,” she says.

Originally from Massachusetts, Eden moved to Denver in 2018 after stints in Brooklyn and New Orleans, and began to consider how she could grow musically. The answer she came up with? Ditch the solo act and find fellow travelers with whom to collaborate.

“I think you can play with genre a lot more when you have multiple musicians,” she says. “There’s not too many genres you can hit when it’s just a voice and an acoustic guitar, or even a voice with an electric guitar. That’s a little bit easier, but there’s only so much you can do alone.”

Eden “semi-assembled” a band so she could take the new sound to a live audience, but COVID-19 put the brakes on any practice or performing last year. She has plans to perform with another guitarist and bass player for a radio appearance in the spring, though she would like to add another guitarist along with bass and drums.

“We were just starting to think about when we would start practicing regularly and getting a practice space and running through songs and booking shows,” she says. “Really, it’s hard to justify practicing and seeing people outside of your bubble.”

A live set of her songs will never be exactly like the recorded versions, as there are sections that, for example, boast four overdubbed guitar tracks, but she hopes to achieve a live performance that is close to the recordings.

“We are really aiming to have it sound full and big,” she says. “There are a lot of places in the songs where while writing or recording I imagined, ‘This will feel so cool to do live.’ So we're excited for the day we can do that.”

"Ghosts," the first single off of All Night, is now available on Bandcamp. The entire EP will be available on February 5.

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