We hope you’re ready to absorb the dreamy atmosphere and serene vocals that are Unclear, Unclear, a beautiful new track by composer and trained vocalist Isabel Crespo. This song was written for our Spiderdead showcase in the fall of 2018 and recorded at the cusp of this new year as part of our Songwriting Scholarship with Shiny Sound Recording Studio! We loved it at the show and are so happy it’s found a home in this collection of music.
Though this song was a rare solo project for her, Isabel can usually be found composing and collaborating with jazzy duos (you might recall a few Spiderweb showcases where she shared the stage with Skyler Hill as Both of Us), trios, quartet, quintets, and any other numerically dedicated projects you can think of! She’s without a doubt one of the most prolific creative minds we know, and has been working furiously on countless projects that she’ll be releasing in the coming months. We’re excited for every single one of them! Coming up on March 1, you can catch her performing at the release of a new album by Imposter, a musical trio she co-leads, at the Second Blue Door in Denton (if you know, you know!).
Read on for Isabel’s interview detailing her experience producing this track with the Shiny Sound crew (Corbin Childs, Jacob Greenan, and Conor Wallace), and be sure to keep up with her adventures as they progress this year via her instagram accounts at @oh.isb and @for.now.project. We’re so excited to share this one with you and we hope if you haven’t already, that you’ll download and listen to all the Songwriting Scholarship songs we’ve recorded in the past year!
Tell us a little bit about your journey with music.
Few things bring me as much joy as music, whether I'm listening, writing, or performing. There wasn't a specific moment when I decided to pursue music, it sort of just happened. I started studying music about 10 years ago now (that sounds crazy), and I'm still learning so much about myself and the world around me through being involved in music.
When you knew you'd have a half-day at Shiny Sound to record this song, how did you feel about it?
I wrote this song specifically for the Spiderdead showcase last year, so when I was asked to partner with Spiderweb to record it at Shiny Sound, I was really excited.
What were your anticipations for recording?
Taking half a day to record one song seems like a comfortable amount of time, and it can be. But, I had never recorded all the parts to a song by myself, so I took the week before the session to make sure I knew exactly what I was going to do, what sounds I was going to use, etc. I wanted to make sure that I made the most out of my time in the studio.
What was the recording process like for you?
The recording process for this song was pretty smooth. We finished recording the song itself pretty quickly, and then we listened back and added some extra sounds.
Can you give us a little background about the song, Unclear, Unclear?
This song is about intense depressive episodes that I've had for a little over a year due to birth control. I'm feeling better since I had it removed, but it had been three years of a slow and steady decline into a loss of perception and an inability to rationalize my own feelings.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
I enjoy consuming the art that invites you to peel away its layers, like an onion. I love being surrounded by trees and mountains and rivers and oceans, so sometimes Denton can be a little bleak, but the people have made it worthwhile. I enjoy listening to other people talk about their experiences, and I like volunteering. Sleeping and eating are both long-time hobbies of mine, and I have a terrible sweet tooth.
What or who are some of your influences as a musician?
These are some musicians and bands that inspire me: Bill Evans // Gian Slater // Nils Frahm // Snowpoet // Baden Powell's Afro-Sambas // Bjork // Matt Mitchell // Anna Webber // Silvio Rodriguez // Irene Bertachini // Gabriel Kahane's The Fiction Issue // Chabuca Granda // Paavo // Tigran Hamasyan // Emma Frank
I'm also inspired by poetry and visual art.
What would you like to accomplish creatively within the next year?
I tend to have many projects going at once, and this year is no exception. I'm currently working on my sophomore album as a leader, 4 (or 5?!) albums as a co-leader, and 1 as a side-person, all of which will be released at some point this year. I started making collages last year, and want to do more of that. I'm very visual, so working on collages is fulfilling for me in different way than music. Towards the end of last year, I left photography aside, but I'd like to work on that more this year as well. Also, collaborations! I would love to participate in more interdisciplinary projects.
Anything else you wanna share with us?
Isabel Crespo is a United States-born Costa Rican-Ecuadorian jazz vocalist and composer currently living in Denton, TX. She spends her time performing, leading ensembles of varying genres and sizes, teaching, and collaborating with artists both nationally and internationally. As a performer, she is praised for her ability to utilize her voice with expressiveness, as well as with agility and precision. As a composer, she enjoys music that has a clear purpose, whether that purpose is to incite a reaction, introspective exploration, protest social injustice, or anything in between.