Indio Downey, poised to release his debut solo EP, Cigarettes In Bed, on January 19, 2024, beckons with a soul-stirring prelude—his latest single, “Dume.” This resonant composition stands as the third preview to the forthcoming 6-track opus, peeling back the layers of Downey’s past struggles with addiction. Under the guise of a symphony of shimmering synths, a heavy bassline, and Downey’s mellifluous delivery, “Dume” serves as a caustic metaphor, intricately entangling the threads of a fatal attraction to the seductive allure of self-destruction.
In the broader view, Cigarettes In Bed emerges as a labyrinth of one’s own vulnerabilities and arduous struggles. Yet, against this darkness, Downey infuses the collection with a relentless feeling of hope, a luminosity that defies the prevailing darkness. Within this complex narrative of struggle, addiction, anger, and frustration, Downey deftly navigates the shadowed corridors of existence. Each track becomes a resonant echo of his journey through the maze of self-discovery and finding light at the end of the tunnel.
In a candid conversation with idobi Radio, Downey shares his sonic inspirations—icons such as Nirvana and Weezer—that have shaped his artistic identity. The echoes of musical influence reverberate from his parents, actor/musician Robert Downey Jr. and singer-songwriter Deborah Falconer. While his parents may have helped mold his personal taste in music and even encouraged him to forge his own creative path with his mother gifting him a guitar at 12 years old, Cigarettes In Bed emerges as his personal pilgrimage through the corners of his mind and intimate life experiences.
Through our full interview below, experience the haunting allure of “Dume” and dive into the recesses of Indio’s mind.
So, I want to dive into the inspiration behind Cigarettes In Bed. The titular track, specifically, feels like there are obvious influences in the sound and instrumentals. You’ve credited your parents’ love for music as having rubbed off on you at a young age, with your mother having gifted you your first guitar when you were 12 years old. Who are some of the artists that your parents exposed you to that are still influential to you? What artists may have influenced the writing and recording process on the EP?
What was it about the rock and grunge music era that made you fall in love with it? Why did you fall in love with those bands, and why did they influence your musical path?
I think hearing those bands and their ability to combine grunge and melody kind of rubbed off on me.
When I listen back to the collection, it feels like you are almost embodying a modern-day Kurt Cobain. Was that something that was intentional for you, or is it that just who you are as a musician?
Absolutely. He was one of my biggest influences. I really connected with his music and the angst in his music. And I think there’s a part of me that kind of also just likes writing songs. But there’s another part of me that is kind of putting a more modern twist on grunge.
It’s very evident through the music. I mean, if you’re not listening to this and hear grunge, then I don’t know what you’re hearing. Aside from Kurt Cobain, there was so much angst, there was so much pain, there was so much vulnerability, but there was also so much anger there. Out of all of the Nirvana releases, what would you say is the one that was most influential for you or that you continue to revisit time and time again?
I think In Utero. I have been listening to the record a lot recently. There’s something about the way it sounds and is produced that I really connect with.
I find it so interesting that at the time of our birth years. Kurt Cobain was exiting this realm of life. Yet his inspiration and sound are found through so many more emerging artists these days. It’s really awesome to hear that kind of grunge sound that he made a staple in music, in rock music, in alternative music, still happening in emerging.
I agree with that. I think a lot of people, myself included, listen to him and just really connect with his vibe. There’s just something about it that’s very real and down to earth. And his music is obviously very melodic and from the heart, you know?
I think there’s something really relatable about pain because we don’t talk about it very openly. But in music, it’s something that is so prevalent. That seems to be the place where people feel like they can openly discuss pain.
I totally agree. I think suffering is something that a lot of people can relate to. And I think a lot of good art has been written about suffering.
Prior to pursuing a career in music, you dabbled in acting and had a few roles when you were younger. What was the turning point or a defining moment that made you realize your passion for music outweighed your other interests?
Well, when I was young, I would go to my mother’s shows, and she would bring me up on stage, and I would play with her. I think that experience really rubbed off on me and made me want to be a musician.
I actually did not know that story. Would you be willing to elaborate on that a little bit?
Well, my mom is a musician as well, and actually, both my parents are, and I still listen to her album a lot, and I would go to her shows. I went to multiple of her shows when I was young. She actually called me up from the audience and had me play tambourine or play a shaker with her. That was really my first experience on stage performing for people. And then I realized, like, “Wow, I like being on stage.”
Did your parents being in creative industries at all play a part in your decision to take at least a similar creative career path?
Well, both my parents were musicians, and they both have albums that I still listen to and love. I would be on set with my dad and see him acting, and that would inspire me to want to be an actor or want to act. With my mom, like I said, she would bring me to shows and call me up on stage, or I would see her writing around the studio. And that would inspire me to want to be a musician.
Do you think you would dabble in acting again if the perfect role ever came up? I could totally see you in a modern-day version of Almost Famous. I would love to see you be able to put those creative passions together.
Thank you! I agree. It’s awesome.
You’ve had some extremely notable releases and tours under your belt. And this project is really your solo, you’re in the driver’s seat of your own music. Did you experience any challenges or advantages while you were going through the transition from having more of a group setting to a more solo setting?
I think one of the biggest changes of being a solo artist is that the songs have become more about songwriting, whereas in the past a lot of the stuff was much heavier. But now that it’s more about songwriting. I think I have an opportunity to confess more with my lyrics and have it be more intimate tell more of a story, and have it be more about the song than the guitar.
That actually leads me to my next stop, which was this EP is extremely raw and vulnerable across the entire collection. Your single “Plastic Rainbow,” you described it as a love song about a previous addiction. Now, I don’t want to go into that because everyone has a past, and I don’t think it’s fair to focus on that past. What I want to talk about is how you were able to separate those hard experiences and tap into those emotions.
Well, the EP has a lot of different topics. It goes from pain to disappointment to hate to rejection to freedom. I think that Cigarettes In Bed is more about past addiction. It’s very much an emotional roller coaster. I try to pull a lot from my personal experiences and take from the emotion, the sadness, and the rage of those personal experiences, and then write about that and turn that into a song. There was actually a lot of that on the EP. “Dume,” one of the other songs on the EP, is about past addiction as well. I kind of did the same thing, I tried to take the feeling, that sadness and rage and personal experience, and then turn that into a song, It actually kind of became more about finding beauty in the darkness.
I love that. That reminds me of an Alexander McQueen quote, which is, “I find beauty in the grotesque.” It’s an amazing sentiment because even though the EP carries so much weight and vulnerability and rawness and rage and pain and suffering, there is a tinge, if you look for it, of hopefulness. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Was that something that you intended for?
I think people really relate to suffering. It’s something that a lot of people can relate to. So with “September,” the song is about suffering, but then it’s also about overcoming that. It’s more optimistic. So, I think that’s kind of a throughline for the EP as well. I think there are dark moments, but the throughline is more optimistic and uplifting.
I definitely heard that while listening to the EP. I want to talk about working with Jack and Christopher on the collection. Obviously, this is your solo work, but what was their involvement in the creation? Were they helping to workshop lyrics? Were they writing their own instrumentals and arrangements? How did that process go between the three of you?
They’re both amazing musicians. And, of course, there have been moments where I’ve been showing them a song, and they’ve had lyric advice or music advice and had an influence on the music. I think just playing with them has made me a much better musician.
Do you feel like they were able to pull more out of you throughout this process?
Absolutely, 100%. I think they definitely have been able to pull more out of me.
Given that this EP is very deeply personal in nature, what message and themes are you hoping that fans take away when listening to the collection? Is there one emotion that you hyper-fixated on throughout the process that you want them to pick up on?
The EP has such dark moments, but I think the throughline and the music is very positive sounding. That’s paralleled by the lyrics as well. I think that’s why I chose those songs because they’re some of the most uplifting, optimistic songs. And then, it even goes into songs that are more romantic and familiar. I would say it’s positivity. But there are elements of romance and love songs.
Were there any other songs that you workshopped or wrote that didn’t make the cut for this EP that we could maybe get a taste of later?
There’s this song called “Cages” that we made a music video for but never released. But we plan to have it on the album.
Oh, that’s awesome! So, there will be a full-length album?
There will be, yes.
Do you have a favorite track on the EP?
I think my favorite is “September.” I think there’s something about the lyrics because it’s about suffering but also overcoming that. I think when I play that live, just looking at the audience, I can tell that there are people out there who are probably going through that suffering and who can connect with that message of overcoming that.
My last question is: Is there anything you want to say to fans as they stream the album and experience everything that you’ve created?
Well, our next release is “Dume.” “Dume” is about past addiction, and doom is my biggest fear. But within the context of the song, it’s a metaphor for the fatal attraction of self-destruction. I also switched the spelling so that it’s a play on Point Dume in Malibu, which is my inspiration spot. It was actually produced by Dan Omelio, who wrote the music, and we came up with the melody and lyrics together. He was a pleasure to work with. I hope people who hear this song remember that there is beauty in the darkness.