Issadora Ava Takes Us to a Dreamy “New York”
In her latest single out today, indie electro-pop’s Issadora Ava once again brings us to her immersive, romantic vision of New York City.
With production channeling some of Taylor Swift’s best, in what one could think of as a spiritual cousin of “Style” and “Out of the Woods”, Issadora Ava’s “New York” drops us into a love story inseparable from the city’s scape. Layers upon layers create a cinematic soundscape with the lightest of touches, and after following Ava’s work for the last few years, this song exemplifies a new chapter in her creativity.
While never losing the dreamy romanticism that threads through her music, “New York” sounds older, with more bittersweetness and peace in Ava’s lyrics and voice. As she puts it herself, it’s about “taking in the smallest moments and just living in that feeling for an extra second before things change”.
In this interview, Issadora Ava was kind enough to share the story behind the song and give us a window into the recording process, as well as a preview for what’s next with her artist project.
The WIMN: Your music is so place-based, it brings me to NYC every time I listen. Tell us the story of the song! Paint the picture for us of its inspiration and the writing process.
Issadora Ava: I think the past few years, even the past year alone, my sound has changed a lot. In our last talk, when I wrote ‘Emilia’, at the time, I quit my job in LA, and booked a one way ticket to NYC and moved with nothing but my luggage, backpack, and my dog less than four days later. I had no plan and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. That song almost felt like the beginning of a new chapter for me. Comparing the two now, I think ‘New York’ encapsulates how fast paced life moves and you never know what’s gonna happen, so sometimes I hold onto moments I don’t want to forget. Even with that, where I was (in life) when I started writing ‘New York,’ is so different from where I am now.
I think my writing process changes for every song, but for this specific song I actually started with just the chorus. ‘New York’ was so hard for me to continue writing because I sat on just the chorus for about a month or so. People told me the chorus was so catchy – it felt like a lot of pressure to write verses that would be just as good to support the chorus. And then finally, I went into the studio with Sam Roller and we spent the day making a demo, which sounds nothing like what we have now. I remember walking out feeling so defeated because I wasn’t happy with what I wrote, and he told me, ‘That’s honestly okay because it’s only a step closer to knowing what we do want for the song.” One of the lyrics in the chorus, “where do I fit in if it’s not right here with you.” It’s such a small line in the grand scheme of the whole song, but for a long time I felt so stuck with where I was in life, with who I was, and who I wanted to be. I think by the end of this song, even though so much has changed, it became more of a closing chapter and cherishing every moment within that. So if I can take anything away from this past year being in the city and from this song, it’s honestly just taking in the smallest moments and just living in that feeling for an extra second before things change.
There are so many great elements in the production, it reminds me a bit of 1989-era Taylor Swift. Where did you record it and are there any memorable moments that come to mind from its production?
Swift was definitely one of the artists that inspired this song production-wise, alongside Chappell Roan. This is one of my first songs I could say leans heavily into pop compared to the others, and also one of my first songs I recorded in a professional studio. I recorded my vocals and guitars with Lovegrove Studios in Manhattan. I remember telling Sam (Roller) how I was really nervous because I’m very hypercritical of my recording sessions. Every song before this one, I’ve recorded in my bedroom closet. I set up a couple blankets to cover the walls, and it’s so low-budget but it’s what has always gotten the job done. I record too many takes to count, and splice all of them together. I don’t know many artists who’ve recorded the whole song straight through, but I applaud them.
Outside of the studio, I produced the majority of the song with Ethan Wilson, who has been my producer for several other songs including “June”, “Joyride”, and more. We will hop on a Zoom or Facetime and work on the song for hours every night (he unfortunately doesn’t live in the city, but that’s never stopped us.) Ethan is my right hand man in all of my music now. I think my most memorable moments would have to be when I recorded the final vocals with Roller, he was so patient with me through the entire process and I really appreciate how much he supported me through the whole process. But the same goes for Ethan. It didn’t matter what time of day it was, he’d pick up every call to work on this song, and we were even working on it during Thanksgiving. There has to be over 20 different mixes of this song and I can’t thank those boys enough for their patience and dedication to my work.
What’s a part of the song, lyrically or production-wise, you’re most excited about or hope listeners notice?
It’s so hard, there’s so many elements we’ve hidden in this song, well over 70 tracks on it. The pre-chorus really sticks with me because I think the production of this song says a lot more than anything I could’ve written. I wanted the lyrics/melody of the pre-chorus to be more of a slower style to mimic how time slows down or almost stops when you’re living in the moment, but then wanted the production for that part of the song to feel like the moment before a kiss, like the tension that builds. I do this several times in the song, but specifically in the pre-chorus and the outro of the song, we actually used a random clip of my voice and reversed it, and that became part of the build up. It’s like that quote from one of my favorite TV shows, the best part of a first kiss is the moment that leads up to it.
What’s coming up next for Issadora Ava we can look out for this year?
I’m working on my first album, I took a couple months last year to isolate myself from doing shows, posting tik toks, escaping all of that and just kept writing. I haven’t written this much in years, but I appreciate everyone’s patience for this next chapter. New music, new show dates, new music videos, all coming soon. For now, you can come to my next show at Mercury Lounge, on February 8th. It’ll be prom themed and we’re crowning two Prom Queens. I never got to go to my prom so it felt fitting.