ISEULA: ‘I think it’s really important to show your vulnerability and to be yourself and to speak the truth’

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ISEULA: ‘I think it’s really important to show your vulnerability and to be yourself and to speak the truth’

words by Brigita Hare

For Iseula Hingano, music is about being authentic and creating connections.

Known for her dynamic voice and incredibly soulful songwriting, the Blue Eyes Cry frontwoman is branching out on her own, which started out as a band called Push Portal slowly morphed into ISEULA, as they were similar projects.

Reflecting on her earliest memory of falling in love with music, she recounts the moment she turned the television on late at night and found Stevie Wonder playing Master Blaster.

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I was sitting there rocking back and forward, really mesmerised by it,” she recalls. “I knew at that point, at such a young age, ‘I want to be him. I wanna do that, whatever that was, that vibe, that emotion and feeling.’ I was hooked.”

This initial spark and love for music led her to study at Newtown Performing Arts High School in Sydney, which was where she first started performing live. Her love for performing grew from there. She travelled to London for two years, where she worked as a backing vocalist for a soul singer. She chose to return home and create her own path in the music industry. 

Back in Australia, she co-created the band Blue Eyes Cry, who played together for around seven years, becoming established in the national blues scene. But it was the pivotal trips to the US that shaped Iseula’s identity as a musician. “I fell very much in love with all the New Orleans blues soul funk music,” she reminisces. “I think that’s when I really started to feel my style.”

Now, alongside her talented band made up of Stella Anning, Charlie Rolfe, Alex Yeop and David Ulucay, ISEULA is gearing up for the release of her latest single Why, a delicate reflection of a love lost that acts as a counterpart to earlier, more empowering single Bye Bye Baby. 

The song is hypnotic; Iseula’s voice is warm and powerful. Effortlessly groovy and smooth, the song begs the listener to sway along, pausing to feel the emotion the song so beautifully evokes. 

Delving into her songwriting process, Iseula tells me she gets her inspiration from her own experiences. Her voice lights up over the phone as she tells me “There are songs about love, heartache, loss and self-discovery. When something happens good or bad I tend to write about it.”

When I ask about the vulnerability of writing music from experience, she confesses it’s pretty scary. “Not many people want to show their vulnerable side, but as I’m getting older I think it’s really important to show your vulnerability and to be yourself and to speak the truth because you can relate to so many people, and I think people really respect when you are being your authentic genuine self. They don’t connect with anything fake, or they won’t listen for very long.”

For Iseula, the magic of performing is the reciprocal exchange of energy between artist and audience. “It’s this weird feeling. You become this other person, like you’re channelling something,” she explains.“If you have a crowd or an audience or even just two people at a bar and they connect with what you’re singing and what the band is playing, that in itself adds to that layer of an amazing feeling.”

ISEULA prepares to drop their latest single Why on Tuesday, June 4 with a launch party at Bar 303 in Northcote on Thursday, June 13 featuring support from the incredible Soul and R&B artist Lheon. The night promises to be one of good company, connection and an exploration of soul, blues and alternative R&B.

Reflecting on her place in the Australian blues scene after a decade in the industry, Iseula admits, “I guess for a long time and even still, I don’t know where I fit. I just make music, it makes me feel good and I’m going to continue doing it.”

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This article was made in partnership with ISEULA.