With her newest single featured on Vogue, a totally fierce debut EP, and kick-ass sense of style, Audra Isadora is a rising star that we can’t get enough of. Get to know this powerhouse in our exclusive interview with her.

audra isadora hat

SHK: YOU HAVE BEEN COMPARED TO BIG NAME MUSICIANS SUCH AS TORI AMOS, KATE BUSH, AND ANNIE LENNOX. HOW DOES THAT FEEL?

Audra Isadora: It feels great. It feel really great. I’m definitely inspired by all three of those women and others. I’d say musically for sure, but even more than that… artistically. Their sensibilities and their performance styles are something that I really admire.

HOW DOES LIVING IN NYC FUEL YOUR CREATIVITY?

It’s always on. I thrive under pressure. It’s just always on. There’s always another person you can work with, another opportunity, another great club you can play at and it’s exciting. I came here for college actually to study theatre, and then it morphed into this so it’s very exciting. And that’s how things work in New York. A lot of times you come here for something and then it sort of turns into something unexpected and great.

WHO STYLES YOU AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?

I style myself. It’s funny you should ask actually, one of my favorite stories is that my mom was always very encouraging in me dressing myself, for as long as I can remember I’ve been dressing myself. As long as I looked weather appropriate I could kind of go out in anything, I was like a 5 year old in a zebra crop top and tie dye leggings. That’s not very far off from what I do now. I definitely have sort of like a both a retro style and simultaneously a futuristic thing going on. So I would say that’s my style, I love costume jewelry. I love sparkles, I love feathers, I love to look stylish but it always is a little bit punk chic. Lots of bright colors, lots of matching.

BIGGEST “WHOA” MOMENT IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?

Probably the making of my EP. It was an incredible, eye-opening experience and it was unlike anything I’ve ever done in my life. I’m a performer, that’s where I got my start, so recording was very different. I found it to be very rewarding but in a completely different way, it’s almost a completely different craft so it was a huge learning experience and something i’m excited to do again. I listen to my EP thinking “Oh Wow, I’m so happy with it”. I’m so interested in recording and I think I could have made different choices, but I made the choices I made, and that’s the beauty and the difficult thing about recording, you can’t change it, it is what it is.

audra isadora feathers

DREAM MUSICAL COLLABORATION?

I would love, in my wildest dreams, to share the stage with Tina Turner. She is somebody who I definitely feel like I relate to as far as performance and stability, she is so fearless and she’s so not afraid to look crazy or over the top, and as a woman that’s incredibly empowering to watch. She doesn’t feel the need to look pretty all the time and as a result she looks more beautiful than pretty much anyone out there.

WHEN YOU DECIDE TO PUT ON A CHARACTER FOR A PERFORMANCE, WHEN AND HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT THAT CHARACTER WILL BE?

These are the things that I think about as i’m drifting off to sleep. That’s the time of day where I get my best ideas and i’m always sort of looking for something that will be true to my style but also enhance that style. So I definitely think of the venue that I’m playing and but I just like to be kind of fun and extreme in my costume choices, they’re very drag queen esque, so I like things that are silly but can be taken seriously. And that’s kind of how I feel musically too, I want it to be fun, I want people to have a great time listening to it and be able to dance to it, but I also feel there’s a definite seriousness and darkness to it.

HOW DID YOU STAY MOTIVATED TO PURSUE A CAREER IN ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING INDUSTRIES?

Well, I grew up in a very musical family. So I think part of it that it’s the norm for me. My mom was a professional musician, so is my aunt. That’s normal for me. And my dad is a lawyer, which is funny, he’s a very conservative lawyer. The thing that I’ve learned from him is that he’s incredibly passionate about what he does. He loves what he does the way an artist loves what they do. I think growing up in an environment, watching my parents love what they did, and even if it was a struggle at times, and encouraging me to do the same, that I think encouragement is a huge part of it. And I also think it’s my livelihood. I walk out the door to run errands in one of my outfits, like big lip earrings, or something like that, it’s just natural to me, so it doesn’t really feel like I’m trying to pursue something as much as I’m just living and breathing and being myself, and this is the result of that.

DESCRIBE YOUR CLOSET IN THREE WORDS.

Colorful, glamorous, and sparkly.

WHEN I’M NOT PERFORMING I’M USUALLY…

I love to cook, I’m very much a family person, I have a sister who lives in the city who is an amazing singer/songwriter and we spend a lot of time together. I love thrift shopping, hanging out with all my friends who are mostly all crazy artists as well, and spending more and more time outside which is amazing.

FAVORITE PERFORMANCE OF YOURS EVER?

I was in a band called “Witches and Bikinis”, it was like this crazy girl group where we dressed up as witches, kind of. It was just sort of like old 60s girl group style, but the music we sang was contemporary. We had like choreography that we came up with, but we would play at rock venues. It was a lot of fun. We attracted a lot of attention. We played at this bar, downtown, it was a total divey rock joint and it was just the most fun ever. Mechanically things went wrong, people were totally drunk and they weren’t expecting us at all and it was a blast, and I love playing dives where the audience is totally happy to be there.

I FEEL MOST CONFIDENT WHEN…

I’m wearing something fabulous.

HOW HAS YOUR MUSICAL THEATRE BACKGROUND HELPED YOU SUCCEED?

The program that I went to was really fantastic and it really cared about teaching us the business side of things, and the importance of the business side of things. I got to know myself not only as an artist but as a brand and as a small business and that’s very important today. Artistically, I feel just that having had to portray characters and having had to explore myself emotionally was very helpful.

EVERY TIME BEFORE I PERFORM I…

I have to be alone for most of the day, and I just give myself time, I wake up on the earlier side, I always eat something healthy, drink some tea, drink some coffee, and then I just have fun, I paint my face. That’s actually very cathartic for me, picking out all the colors, and all that…yeah, nothing major.

WHEN I FOUND OUT I WAS GOING TO BE FEATURED ON VOGUE I…

Laughed and screamed. And was kind of like “What?!”

I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT MY…

Earring collection.

BEST CONCERT YOU’VE EVER BEEN TO?

I would have to say one of the best was the Madonna “sticky sweet tour” which I saw in high school and was completely blown away.

STYLE ICON?

No, I’d say there are different designers and people who inspire me but it’s more of a combination. I love Betsey Johnosn, I love 90s period Versace, I love Sharon Needles, the drag queen.

IF YOU COULD SHOP AT ONE STORE/BRAND FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Betsey Johnson.

audra isadora pink blazer

 

WHAT DRAWS YOU TO A SONG TO MAKE YOU WANT TO COVER IT?

Something that I feel like I can relate with and usually that means emotionally, not necessarily musically, but emotionally or theatrically. And then usually I’ll do it when it’s an artist that I feel personally connected to and it’s somebody that I want to pay homage to. And it obviously has to be something that does something for my voice, or something that I can bring something new to, and still pay homage to that person’s work.

VOGUE COMMENTED ON YOUR ANDROGYNY. HOW HAS THAT HELPED YOU AND HOW HAS THAT HURT YOU?

In my sort of optimistic perspective I feel like it’s only helped me, honestly. I have played roles that are fun and different because of it in theatre and in music the thing that I find so amazing about being musician is that you can just be yourself and if you are good at what you do and you know who you are, it can also work in your favor. Especially when people start comparing me to like, Grace Jones, how could anybody complain about that. I’m happy about that, I’ll take it.

FAVORITE OUTFIT YOU’VE EVER PERFORMED IN?

I love all the outfits I perform in. A couple days ago I performed at a queer music festival and I made this gold lamé bodysuit and then I took a big felt appliqué of a telephone on a receiver, with a chord, and put it on the body suit. It was very silly, but very sexy and definitely fun. And then I made these long earrings that said “bla bla” so it was like a folk telephone theme outfit with lots of shininess and rhinestones and glitter. Oh, and I wore a pink afro.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND YOUR CAREER?

More music. That’s what I’m working on now, just getting more out there and pushing the envelope as much as possible and getting out there and playing. And collaborating with people, I’m very excited about that. It’s like a snowball effect, everything I do leads into something else or someone else and it’s very exciting. I’m working with some really really incredible musicians now who I met throughout this process and I’m excited to do a lot more of that.

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[images sourced via dirtysugarphotography and vogue]

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