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IN CONVERSATION: Indio Downey “Music is a vessel for healing, growth, transformation”

Ahead of the launch of his superb upcoming EP, Cigarettes in Bed later this month, GIITTV were honoured to chat to LA alt-rock artist Indio Downey about his creative process, key influences and the transformative power of music.

A journey from darkness into light, each track is rich with sonic depth and the best elements of grunge and slacker rock. The EP feels like an instant classic, fuelled with pounding percussion and soaring multitextured harmonies, as Downey’s rich resonant vocals slant over fierce buoyant riffs. The breathless EP is imbued with a timeless slow burn fervour. Indio’s sound melds the head-banging rebellion of early 2000s’ punk and the grungy melodrama of 90s’ alt rock with a sincerity and conviction all his own. Cigarettes In Bed is gritty and dynamic, pairing punk-tinged rock anthems with simmering moments of self-reflection.

Indio is forming his own deeply authentic path. His mother is the acclaimed singer, songwriter, model and actress Deborah Falconer so musical talent clearly runs in the family, laced with performance skills from his eminent father, Robert. Now is the time for him to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight for his own solo project.

What is your proudest musical moment so far?

The completion of Cigarettes in Bed EP. Finding the right way to convey my experiences with love, addiction, and recovery is an internal battle that I’ve been fighting for years. I’m excited for people to hear it and hope that they are able to take something away from it.

Who are your key influences?

Pixies, Adolescents, The Sex Pistols, Weezer, Queens of the Stone Age, and Nirvana. When I listen to these bands I hear angst, passion, sadness, happiness, broken heartedness, love, suicidal feelings and lust for life. I connect to what they’re going through and it not only helps me escape my own suffering, but inspires me to express it rather than push it down.

How would you describe your sound to anyone new to your music?

“A mix between pop punk and alternative rock. There are elements of rawness in the guitar tones and live drums and working with producers helped the songs become more dynamic and tasteful.

How long have you been playing guitar and singing? Has music been a vessel for healing, growth and transformation?

I started singing and playing guitar when I was 12 and started experimenting with singing and writing my own songs when I was 15. At first I wanted to learn how to play the songs that I loved, like ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ and ‘Seven Nation Army.’ It wasn’t until I started experiencing anger and sadness in my mid-teens that I wanted to use music as a way to express the way I felt. Music has been a huge vessel for healing growth and transformation.

Listening to music has helped me get through dark times in my life and has given me a reason to carry on. For example when I first got sober I remember feeling depressed and angry and wanting to escape the way I felt and instead I listened to The Jesus Lizard, MDC, The Germs, Black Flag and Melvins and was able to let go of those feelings in a healthy way. It was also inspiring because I was able to channel those feelings into my own writing and playing.

What was the first gig you ever went to?  Was there a moment when you knew that music was your path?

The first gig I ever went to was Kings of Leon at the Henry Fonda with my mom when I was 12. I remember seeing them live and being blown away. They were definitely one of the bands that inspired me to start writing my own songs. The very first time I remember wanting to be a musician was at one of my Mom’s shows when she called me up to play tambourine during one of her songs. I remember loving being on stage. Something about it just felt right.”.

The upcoming EP is superb. Is there a narrative in the upcoming EP from the relative darkness of ‘Dume’ to the joyful freedom of ‘The Other Side’? It feels like a journey from darkness into light somehow (with lots of  grungy joy in between). 

“The narrative of the EP is essentially overcoming suffering in different ways, whether it be through drugs, sobriety, love, sex, or acceptance. ‘Cigarettes in Bed’ is a glimpse into a previous relationship in which their company helped me cope with my sadness which is why I felt it fit as the title.

It seems like this record is about recovery and transformation and redemption whilst being honest about the darker sides of life. Is transformation an important theme in the EP?

“Yes. I feel like the songs tell the story of my journey. The EP spans from seeking comfort in a drug to finding happiness through acceptance of reality which has been a huge part of my transformation. Acceptance of reality can also be a stepping stone to having a healthy relationship because by taking care of yourself you can eventually take care of someone else.

Your lyrics seem to come from a place of truth and honesty. Something that we can all relate to even if it’s painful. James Joyce said, “In the particular is contained the universal.” So the more honest  and specific we are about our own experiences, the more people can relate to it

Is honesty important in your songwriting process?

Honesty is important in my songwriting because when I write about a feeling that I’m having it’s much more emotional. When I try to conform to something that I’m not it always feels forced.” 

Is the songwriting process cathartic?    

Yes. The songwriting process is cathartic because it helps me gain a deeper understanding of what I’m feeling. Making sense of it allows me to let go of it.

How do you nurture your creativity?

I nurture my creativity through meditation and free writing. I need to be clear-headed and open-minded in order to achieve the kind of results that I want. When I’m foggy or impatient it just doesn’t flow. Free writing helps me get a firm grasp on what I’m writing about so that I can get it all out before I turn it into a song.

Which comes first the lyrics or the melody?

It varies. Sometimes melody comes first. I had a moment recently where I wrote all the lyrics to a song and when I tried singing it didn’t sound good because I had rushed the melody. Lately, the music has come first. I like recording songs acoustically and then coming up with the melody while listening to the guitar.

Have different places influenced your songs at all?

“Yes. In ‘Plastic Rainbow’ the lines in the bridge “ decorated pages” is about the nostalgia of being in a hotel room doodling and wiring music all night. The line “solemn autumn stages” is about the sadness of playing shows in small venues for five people. 

I heard that that ‘Dume’ (although related to doom)  was influenced by  Point Dume in Malibu which  is an “inspiration spot” and that other tracks were written in Hawaai. Have those places fed into the vibe of the songs?

“Yes. When we recorded ‘Cigarettes in Bed’ in Hawaii I remember there was such a good vibe. The lines “ I could lay here forever” and “ I don’t wanna go” are about my previous relationship but they were also inspired by where I was. I’ve found that when I have writer’s block it’s helpful to take a break from what I’m doing and approach it later. Walking through Point Dume or on the beach in Malibu always helps me clear my head.

There seems to be beauty in the darkness of some of your tracks like ‘Dume’ and I remember you saying that you want people who listen to the song to remember that “there is beauty in the darkness.” That sounds really inspiring. Is there beauty in the darkness? Can you tell us more about this at all? 

The protest of punk rock and the angst of grunge is very dark. Part of the struggle of being an artist is to capture it. When someone is able to experience suffering and use it to fuel a song that people can relate to, it’s very beautiful.

‘Plastic Rainbow’, ‘Cigarettes in Bed’ and ‘The Other Side’ are so joyful, radio-ready and anthemic. It must have been a blast to sing these tracks. Which is your favourite song to perform live? 

My favourite song to play live is ‘Cigarettes in Bed’ because a lot of the people who come see us play are in relationships. We also just finished making a music video for that track which will be out soon.”

I heard that you played with Dogstar recently. How was that?   

Playing with Dogstar was amazing. It felt so surreal being on such a big stage in front of that many people again, and I will never forget it. I’m a huge fan of theirs, so it was a pleasure meeting them and I’m so grateful that we got that opportunity.

The last time I saw Dogstar (Keanu Reeves’ band) was at Glastonbury Festival in the UK. It would be great to see you play at Glastonbury too! Is that anything that you might consider in the future? Any international tours to the UK for example? Or any around LA? 

Yes. I hope to go on tour and play a festival this year.”

Is there anyone else you would like to tour with?

I would love to go on tour with Dogstar.

What would your Desert Island Discs be?  So four or five tracks or records that you would take to a desert island to listen to forever? 

My five records would be Nirvana In Utero, Alice In Chains Dirt, The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan, Weezer The Blue Album and Nick Drake Pink Moon.

Musically, how would you like to be remembered? 

I would like to be remembered as someone whose music brought people joy and inspired them not to give up.

Do you have anything planned after the EP launch? Any plans for the future?

Cigarettes in Bed EP will be out on January 19th and the Cigarettes in Bed music video will be out on January 24th …and I ’m planning on playing more shows and performing these songs from my new EP throughout this year, while also continuing to write new music.

We can’t wait to see what comes next!

Pre save Cigarettes in Bed here: Cigarettes in Bed ( The EP is released on 19th January.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Miranda


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.