Iris Jean: Keep A Clear Vision

emilytreadgold #3, Features

Iris Jean’s delicate voice and gorgeous melodies make her songs so addictive. Her new song “Sleep Tonight” perfectly displays her prowess for indie pop. We talked to her at SXSW about building a good team and how to get over nerves.

How did you get started in music? 

Iris Jean: I started playing guitar when I was 9 years old but it wasn’t really serious, when I was 16 I wanted to make a career out of it and start writing songs. I went to music school and then I met Lars, and we just started making music together, we were put together on a group project and now I feel like I’m really getting into my artistry and he’s a producer so he can make it sound great.

I feel like everyone says you need to have a good team. 

Iris Jean: I’m really searching for a team! I’m an independent artist but it’s better to work with people you can trust, you can’t do everything by yourself. It’s nice to have good people around me.

The best thing you can do is delegate and outsource things. How do you not get burned out?

Iris Jean: Staying true to myself and listening to my feelings. Last year, I worked every day and was constantly thinking about what I wanted to do. I wasn’t working proper hours, working through the night, so I have Mondays as an off day now so I can recharge.

How do you stay motivated to create?

Iris Jean: I love art and consume a lot of music myself. I look up to so many artists: Lana Del Rey, Clairo, Lizzy McAlpine. Those girls work really hard, and it inspires me to do the same. I want to make something. 

How do you know when a song is ready to be released? 

Iris Jean: Sometimes it’s a journey. I feel like you can always work on a song, and sometimes you just have to say, okay, this is it. For me, it’s done when I feel like I have something I want to say, and that’s in the song, and when you hear it, you can hear the message. 

What’s one of the biggest challenges for indie artists right now?

Iris Jean: I think for me, performing live. It’s hard to create a tour and have it be sustainable financially. I really like analog gear and having a full band but right now it’s just not something I can do. It makes me sad but I’m just trying to do what I can do. I’m trying to keep it as minimal as possible. 

You can work your way up. You can’t start out with a band. What are you looking forward to at SX?

Iris Jean: My performance, I’ve never been to a festival this big. This is my first festival out of the Netherlands, and it’s way bigger than anything we have in our home country. I’m a little overwhelmed, but I’m trying to do as many things as possible.

Just drift along! That’s the best thing you can do. Are you nervous about performing?

Iris Jean: I started out as a guitarist and I was really afraid to sing, I only sang in my bedroom. I didn’t even tell my parents I was singing. One day I was like, “If I’m going to write these songs, I need to sing them and I need to get over my fear of singing,” so I always get a little nervous but I just try to stay calm and think of the message I want to convey. 

What is your best piece of advice for women in music?

Iris Jean: Stay true to yourself. I feel like that’s cringy, but I think it’s easy to get pulled in every direction by people who see something in you and want something from you but keep a clear vision of what you want to do.

Keep up with Iris Jean on Instagram and Spotify.

Emily Treadgold

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