The singer and songwriter Indigo Sparke has the kind of old-soul nuance that you’d expect from someone further along down the road. In talking to her, it’s easy to forget she’s a ’90s baby. When we sit down for a conversation with Sparke on a spring afternoon in April, just after she’s wrapped a photo shoot for Free People, she speaks in poetic analogies, but in an entirely self-aware, I don’t take myself too seriously kind of way.
“I’ve always loved seasonal change,” she says. “It gives this opportunity for a clean slate and new growth.” Sparke has just arrived in New York City from Taos, New Mexico, and you can sense her openness toward the possibilities of the future. “A new season feels like the beginning of something more, and especially spring, because it’s so specific to when things bloom.”
This arrival of spring also resonates with her style and self-expression. “I’m experimenting with it more now as I feel more confident in myself as a woman and comfortable in my body,” she says. “I’m definitely orienting more toward wearing things with structure but with a little bit more of an edge.” Her current reference? The 1990s—a decade that resonates with not only Sparke’s fashion sensibilities but her childhood too.
Sparke was born in Sydney, Australia and raised in a musical environment; her mother a jazz singer and father a musician. She was named after the Duke Ellington song “Mood Indigo,” and the folk rock melodies of industry legends were on regular rotation in her household. “I feel like I had a bit of a chaotic upbringing in some ways, very non-conventional, but all of that beauty and tenderness and trauma that many people experience in childhood informs who you become as an adult,” she says.
Last year she released Echo, her debut album that nearly didn’t come to be. “Those songs were so much a part of me for such a period of time, and I was almost at the point of not even releasing it,” she shares. The pandemic, like with many creative endeavors during that time, played a part in the decision-making process. “COVID had just happened and I was thinking, maybe these songs are just for me—some sort of reconciliation I’m having with myself through the music that I’m writing, some sort of lullaby to the baby inside of myself or something.”
Fortunately, she did release it, and the nine track album highlights the signature sound of her delicate voice, guitar picking (a skill she taught herself in her early twenties), and the heavy, honest, and at times hauntingly existential quality of her lyrics. “[The album] is a pretty direct representation of who I am,” she says. “I do have a lot of depth of intensity; a rawness that’s quite uncomfortable for a lot of people, then I also have an inherent capacity for joy and lightness.”
Before her work as a singer and songwriter, Sparke was an actor; using various roles as doorways to self-exploration. “We all have a multitude of different characters inside of us as human beings and I think they come out at different times as ways of experiencing life through different lenses,” she reflects. “When I landed back in my musical exploration, I think I really began to understand myself in a much deeper way.”
Now, rooted in her path as a musical artist, Sparke’s creative process is something she likens to a cross between a lightning bolt and a handful of seeds. “It’s very impulsive and intuitive,” she explains. “It comes on like lightning, my creative ways, so being open to that energy when it comes through—and hopefully having a guitar nearby or a pen and paper.” She shares that there are hundreds (“and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds”) of notes and voice memos on her phone when she needs to get an idea out. “Then, from that space, I’ll often build on the seeds of whatever I’ve written, whether it’s a line from a poem or a fully formed song; then I’ll work from there.”
Another source of inspiration for Sparke is live performance. She won’t have to wait long to reconnect with that passion: She’s in the final stages of mixing her hotly anticipated new album and will be sharing it with audiences later this year. “I love performing live; to be in a visceral experience like that. Sometimes pure magic can come in the alchemy of those spaces—where all the ingredients can be so perfect and you’re in such a transcendental experience with yourself, the band, and the audience,” Sparke says. “It can feel quite profoundly spiritual.”
Art Direction by Hannah Miller; Styling by Ann Wang; Styling Assistance by Laynie Rouch; Hair and Makeup by Jewels Grogran Production by Chelsea Solitrin.