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Out Now: Izzy Heltai

May 29, 2024

Out Now: Izzy Heltai

Izzy Heltai is an indie-folk artist whose songs touch on themes like growing older, feeling lost, and finding yourself – his music resonates with many people. Izzy played the first Queerfest event, a virtual festival in 2021 hosted in partnership with Club Passim. His latest single, “My Best Friend Sam,” came out on April 25.

Izzy has a debut New York headline show coming up. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out his show at Union Pool in Brooklyn on Friday, June 21. Our Out Now conversation covers work-life balance (a large theme in his new single), his favorite LGBTQ+ artists, and his current state of mind. We’re so excited to highlight this phenomenal artist, Izzy Heltai!

Your lyrics cover themes that many people can relate to such as being anxious, growing older, self-esteem, feeling lost, etc. Do you write with the listener in mind for the relatability of these topics? Are you mostly thinking of your own experiences and emotions? Or are you considering both during the creative process?

Izzy Heltai: I think a lot of what I experience is universal. I think as we get older we all deal with issues of identity, anxiety, a sense of feeling lost, etc. I don’t really think about writing, or creating, for the purpose of being relatable. I think inherently what I write about is relatable, but the only way I can keep it authentic is by simply saying exactly what I’ve experienced. I don’t claim to know, or want to tell other people what they’ve gone through, all I can do is talk about what I experience.

Your single that came out last month, “My Best Friend Sam,” includes the lyrics, “I’ve wasted close to a decade chasing dreams and expectations / I wanna leave, I wanna stop everything / I wanna be hanging out with my best friend Sam.” How are you balancing a demanding career in the music industry with taking time for yourself and personal relationships?

Honestly, it’s been tough. This work exists in oscillations of highs and lows. One day it can feel like you have everything at the tips of your fingertips and the next day it can feel like everything’s falling apart. I’m trying to block out a lot of that. I’m trying to focus on what makes me happy about all of this, creating music with my friends, playing shows and connecting with people.

Recently, I’ve just been focusing on being in one place. Trying to be present, spending time with people I love, working on my next body of work and doing things throughout the day that make me feel the most present I can be. Reading, riding my bike, climbing, and writing songs.

What is your current state of mind?

If I’m honest, it isn’t the best it’s ever been. I broke my hip about a year ago and some things changed in my life that I had a hard time adjusting to. I’ve been refocusing recently and just putting energy into making things I love. Working on new songs I’m really proud of, investing in my friendships, riding my bike a lot, climbing with my friends. Things that make me feel grounded and most myself!

What’s your ideal vision for your future?

I love making my music, I love my friends here in Nashville and my routine, but I also love touring. Touring and playing shows, connecting with people, seeing new things, is such a big part of this for me. My ideal future consists of a balance between a routine at home, bike rides, yoga, rock climbing, writing and creating my next body of work, and a consistent sustainable touring schedule.

What would a “perfect day” look like for you?

This one’s easy. A sunny hot day, a very long bike ride, and cooking with my friends.

Why do you create music? What’s more satisfying to you, the process or the outcome?

I make music, because at one point I was a lonely, confused kid, and for some reason this was the way I processed the world. I’ll always make music regardless of who’s paying attention, but it’s easy to lose sight of that sometimes. I’m fully aware, with my identity, if my music reaches a certain level of success it has the power to really impact a marginalized population quite powerfully. I think my music becomes much more than “just for me,” because of that.

Who are your favorite LGBTQ+ artists and bands?

Lucky and honored to call her a close friend, Katie Pruitt is absolutely at the top of that list. Leith Ross, Ethel Cain, and Chappell Roan are other favorites of mine.

Photo Credit: Cait Frances

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Out Now: Izzy Heltai
Out Now: Izzy Heltai