In a time where so much of the music we hear is over-produced pop with an eye on stardom (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things), it’s refreshing to hear a young musician with a smaller, more introspective sound. Kirsten Izer, a 19 year old singer-songwriter from New Jersey manages just that on her new EP What If This Is It?, out this week. We asked Izer to walk us through each of the tracks, which, unless we’re mishearing things here, have more than a little Morrissey in their DNA, in terms of both melody and subject matter.
“Eighteen” is an ironic song because it’s all about how I feel like I haven’t done anything with my life but really I’m still just a teenager. When I wrote this track, I was experiencing a lot of anxiety because I didn’t know where I was going with my life. I think the lyric, “I’m eighteen and running out of time” is something most teenagers can relate to. There’s so much expected of us and so many big decisions we have to make (school, career choices, etc.) and it’s easy to feel pressured, when really we have to take a step back and realize that this is just the beginning. This particular song holds a special place in my heart for that reason. It’s therapeutic.
Last winter I went to the beach alone to sit and think, and I was watching the waves and I thought, “Shit, even though no one is here right now, the waves keeps coming in and the ocean just keeps doing its thing.” I guess that sounds a little stupid and stoner-y, haha, but I was really fascinated by that idea. So I came up with the lyric, “Baby I’m a wave / I keep coming back / Even on the coldest days / I’m here to stay,” and the rest of the song pretty much wrote itself.
“Burning Out” was the first song I wrote for this EP. I wrote it while I was commuting to New York every day and working a full-time job last year at the young age of 18. The job was great, but it was extremely stressful and left me with no time to focus on myself, which made me feel burnt out. I wanted the song to be very guitar-driven, spacey and atmospheric, to symbolize me floating away into my own world and getting away from all of the madness.
“Wrapped In Gold”
This song ties in with “Eighteen” and “Burning Out” because it’s also about how I was experiencing a lot of anxiety last year. I idolize stardom and being the spotlight of attention by saying I want to be wrapped in gold. It’s what I was daydreaming about when I was locking myself in a room all day. Production-wise, I played around with software instruments more on this track, which was interesting because it’s something I’ve never done before. I’m definitely getting better at it every day and hope to be able to incorporate more electronic instruments into my music in the future. It’s cool to document my starting point and see how I evolve later on.
“I Don’t Love You (Live)”
This was recorded live in one take because the song is so emotional that I felt it was simply the most genuine way to sing it. To me, it’s about how you’re around someone so much that you start to think you’re in love them, but then you realize that you only thought about them because they were there; because they were convenient. In reality, your personalities never clicked and they probably never will. Above all of that, finally admitting it to yourself and coming to terms with the fact is an enormous breaking point.