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Shining a Light on the Talented Izzy Hagerup: Prewn’s Musical Universe

Izzy Hagerup, the creative force originating from Northampton, Massachusetts, stands at the helm of the musical endeavor known as Prewn. Tied to Kevin McMahon’s Pelican Movement collective, Izzy Hagerup has dedicated over ten years to crafting the raw and compelling sounds of Prewn’s debut album, Through the Window. Released by Exploding in Sound, Hagerup’s musical odyssey was largely nurtured during the solitude of the pandemic. Collaborating at McMahon’s Marcata Studio, Hagerup seized this moment to zero in on her songwriting. The dynamic range within the album captures a gamut of emotions, from the ethereal to the poignantly intense, with Hagerup’s fiery vocal prowess binding the tumultuous musical landscapes. Now featuring Mia Huggs on bass, Calvin Parent on guitar, and Karl Helander on drums, Prewn is undergoing an energizing evolution, breathing new life into Hagerup’s vision.

Our latest conversation in the Artist Spotlight series features none other than Prewn’s visionary Izzy Hagerup. We delve into her initial steps in music, her partnership with Kevin McMahon, the writing process from varied vantage points, and other facets of her musical journey.

Could you recount some of your formative experiences with music?

My musical journey began in second grade with the cello, culminating in my participation in the orchestra until the eighth grade, though at the time, I didn’t truly appreciate it. Then, the guitar entered my life. It was an object of indifference for many years until it slowly became an extension of myself. Upon entering high school, a relationship with a gifted yet troubled boyfriend stirred a determination in me to improve my own guitar skills. My father’s musical backdrop to my upbringing was the constant echo in my formative years. Initially a casual affair, my guitar playing gradually became a vessel through which I expressed my deepest affections for music, a sentiment that continues to astound me to this day.

When did it strike you that music could be more than a hobby?

It was my entrance into Kevin McMahon’s studio that truly ignited my musical aspirations. Amidst the pandemic, as Kevin haltered his typical recording sessions, he afforded me uninterrupted time in his studio barn. Grateful for this sanctuary, I strove to harness the time at my disposal, discovering songcraft could be a daily endeavor. Conversations with Kevin and repeated visits to the barn facilitated my awakening to the possibility of taking my songwriting into a professional realm. The realization that my passion for music might also be my life’s pursuit began to take shape, presenting itself as the most gratifying path I could wander.

In discussing ‘But I Want More’, which is a portrayal of your father’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease, you mentioned the challenge of creating music that is genuinely heartfelt. How do you navigate the tension between authenticity and detachment in your songwriting?

Struggling with occasional dissociation, tapping into my emotions can be an arduous task. Profound music is inherently emotive, and my goal is always to delve into that wellspring of feeling. However, one can’t simply command genuine emotion to appear on demand. Moments arise when a song is born out of necessity, a pressing need to articulate something within. My father’s presence has an inescapable influence on my music, serving often as a conduit for my most profound lyricism. Songwriting also serves as a means to decipher feelings that may not be immediately apparent to me. It’s a complex dance; my writing at times originates from a vantage point of detachment, offering a unique energy that reveals more of myself than I initially realize.

To write from a detached point of view and subsequently discover a hidden depth in your lyrics must be intriguing, yes?

Absolutely. Sometimes, the protagonist of a song is an entity separate from myself, a character whose voice offers new insights. For instance, penning a song about a seemingly trivial encounter with a tick unexpectedly allowed me to explore personal themes, despite the eccentric premise. By distancing myself and channelling a character, the creative process unearths reflections and perspectives concealed from my conscious mind. Overcoming writer’s block is a matter of nurturing curiosity rather than criticism, and making peace with the ambiguity of the process.

‘Perfect World’ explores themes of control and dominance. Can writing through another’s eyes lead to surprising self-discovery?

Adopting another’s viewpoint empowers me to dissect underlying subjects from an altered angle. When I shifted ‘But I Want More’ to mirror my father’s perspective, it fostered a nonjudgmental space, compelling me to perceive beyond the confines of my individual experience. Through the satirical portrayal of dominance within ‘Perfect World’, I unearthed a degree of empathy for these so-called villains, recognising their own unspoken fragility and the universal need for compassion.

Could you tell us about Gideon Bok’s involvement with the album cover for Through the Window?

Gideon, a dear friend of Kevin, became an intrinsic part of my creative experience through his unique artistic perspective. His painting for the album is a profound expression of his interpretation of my music and our shared connections. Gideon’s ability to genuinely capture someone’s essence through his art is, to me, a profound honor that symbolically ties the project together.

With the addition of new members and plans to re-record tracks as a full band, what excites you about this new phase for Prewn?

The transformation of Prewn into a collaborative effort has introduced a dimension of trust and mutual musical respect that thrills me. We visualize two parallel paths for Prewn: the introspective solo recordings I hold dear and the pulsating, rich soundscapes we create as a collective. The prospect of exploring both terrains is both a passion and a curiosity of mine.

The content of this interview has been refined for clarity and conciseness.

Discover Prewn’s Through the Window now, released through Exploding in Sound.

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