Indra Rios-moore

Indra RiosMoore’s story starts on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It continues in Denmark across the Atlantic, but has yet to reach a climax or thankfully an end. It has been full of twists and turns, ups and downs, joy, pain, sacrifice, and success, just like any good story. It is no surprise that Indra’s album Heartland, which is both personal and broad in its musical scope, is art that reflects our lives. It is not surprising, given Indra’s history. Indra, named by her mother after the Hindu warrior deity of the sky and the rain, was born to a Puerto Rican social worker, Elizabeth, and an African-American-Syrian jazz bassist, Donald Moore (his credits include, the New York Contemporary Five, Archie Shepp, Elvin Jones, Sonny Rollins, and Jackie McLean). Indra grew up in a difficult neighborhood and spent her childhood in an imaginary world, with her mother’s vast record collection of soul, jazz, and rock music. Indra’s singing was always something she did in private. However, her mother encouraged her to audition at Mannes College of Music at the age of 13. Despite her fears about her singing, Indra was granted a scholarship. Indra began to develop her soprano voice. She also attended Village Harmony, a summer camp in Northern Vermont, the same year she started at Mannes College of Music. Indra spent her teenage years in a musical parallel life. One was filled with classical arias, vocalization practice, and the other was full of traditional American folk tunes in the woods. She met Benjamin Traerup while working in a Brooklyn wine bar as a waitress. Three weeks later, they were living together, and one year later, they were married and living with their children in Denmark. Indra says that if I wasn’t young and stupid, I wouldn’t have moved to Denmark. However, I was in love and it was a practical choice. Because Danish is not a language that comes naturally from the American tongue, it took me four years of learning it. In the end, we discovered that creativity was partly born out of hardship.” Indra, her husband, and Thomas Sejthen, his friend, formed a trio in 2007. They quickly gained a strong following in Denmark, Scandinavia, and other countries. Their debut album, “Indra”, was nominated in the Danish Music Award 2010 for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Indra believes that the music they make is only possible because of the intimacy in their musical relationships. “Our stage constellation does not include me in the front. We stand in a small U, and are never more than arms length from each other. It was a feeling we wanted to capture in Heartland’s recording. Indra had already won the Danish Music Award 2012 for Best Jazz Vocal Album for “In Between” her second album, and her thoughts quickly turned to making a sequel. Indra cites Joni Mitchell’s Turbulent Indigo album as one of her favourite recordings. She decided to contact Larry Klein, the producer of Turbulent Indigo, to see if they could make it a similar experience in the studio. Klein was immediately contacted by Indra, who sent her an email with her hopes and ideas for the project, along with a link of some music. Klein was open to the idea. Indra and her husband had their first baby, a boy. At the same time, a family member died from cancer. Her thoughts turned to recording the album and Indra, Benjamin, and Paulo went to America in August 2013. After three days, it was finished in the studio with Larry Klein. “Larry Klein captured an intimacy in my headphones that I’ve never seen in a studio. He created a mix that was as intimate as our stage performance. This shock shocked both Benjamin and me, and those who know us well. We understood the risks and knew that we needed to take control of our inner creativity and not just the external risk of investing all of it. It was totally worth it.” Heartland is a unique collection of songs. They are songs that reflect Indra’s diverse musical background, which includes jazz, folk, and classical music. Its core is made up of songs that were inspired by her Mother’s records and life events. They include songs by Doc Watson, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, David Bowie, and a Spanish love song. There is also a Yoruban song about the deity Oshun. Parts of a requiem are included. My mom was the one who ruled our home until I was 26 years old, and my music is a direct result of her influence. “Hacia Donde” is clearly my Mother’s influence, as it was written in Mexico by Marta Valdes. Alan Lomax and other folk song collectors were a major influence on us all. That is when ‘Little Black Train,’ was born into our lives.” “Money is my little brother. As a teenager, he was interested in hip-hop and I encouraged him listen to music. He became obsessed with 70s rock – Black Sabbath and The Stones as well as Pink Floyd. When I asked him for a song to complete the album, he said “Money, Dude. You gotta do money.” We were invited to a musical lecture at Aarhus’ Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, several years ago, and were asked to perform a David Bowie song. After looking through his vast back catalogue, we settled on “Heroes” and it is the only song that we have been doing for a while. Thomas and I have been friends since childhood and this song seemed like a natural choice. I was singing it in the shower. Heartland is an amazing album and has been the best labour of love. Indra and Benjamin are able to clearly hear each other’s love in every song they sing or play. However, it was hard work and they could have had different outcomes if they made different choices along the way. “So many people have supported us, allowed us to stand on their backs and that is what has allowed us to get to where we are today.” Indra sums it all up in a simple, yet elegant way, “If you walk towards your bliss it conspires with you, because what we are doing is in the service of joy.” from

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