Depression, Detachment, Death, and the Birth of a ‘Nihilist in the Club’

For this week's BRICKS Voices, singer-songwriter Izzy Camina shares a personal essay on what inspired her latest release.

New Jersey native Izzy Camina is wasting no time in self-isolation. Today, she debuts her first highly-anticipated EP featuring two brand new tracks alongside her already-successful singles ‘Kill Your Local Indie Softboy’ and ‘UP AND DOWN’.

Perfectly distilling the swirling tension and confusion of our generation on this self-written and self-produced, 5 track project, Camina’s music is a bubbling cauldron of dark electronica, industrial techno and dreamy, lo-fi bedroom pop. Nihilist In The Club takes the listener on a journey inside the mind of a truly virtuosic talent, her offbeat, sardonic humour detailing the struggles of navigating the unpredictable waters of modern society as a female in a generation without a clear identity. The EP’s release couldn’t feel more prescient.

On the day of her EP’s release, Izzy shares a raw personal essay on the inspiration behind the lyrics, dealing with depression and commodifying emotions for music.

I rip the flesh off of every experience until all that’s left is chalky, bare bone. Dull, brittle, lifeless… boring.

I’m burnt out after an adolescence of uninhibited emotional exertion. I’m not sure if this current lack of sensitivity will improve with age, but I’ve abandoned the notion that the profound emotional experiences of childhood/teenagerdom can be reacquired in adulthood. With this, I harbour a teeny tiny fetus-like seed of nihilism in my belly. It’s nothing dangerous, nothing to be worried about. In fact, my baby-nihilism is a weapon of post-modern survivalism. A useful tool to help me and the millions of other e-poisoned youths navigate the cold waters of chronic, online overexposure. Lucky us, right? I mean, there is nothing, and I repeat, nothing cooler than not caring. When you care about stuff, you have an oozing, weeping target in the middle of your chest, you’re easily fucked with. But if you accumulate just enough pain, trauma, and suffering – bang boom, the brain does this brilliant… thing. To not feel at all? In this sick, sad, overwhelming world? Bingo! Cool!

How does this relate to my EP Nihilist in the Club? In our modern world, the commodification of je ne se quois “cool”, encapsulated by material goods or otherwise – clothes, films, cigarettes, perfumes, pop stars, etc, is commonplace. Currently, as our collective ‘wokeness’ unveils our seemingly universal struggle with mental health, entry points in an otherwise impenetrable music market appear. The relatability of mental illness is now a selling point. Despite being half English, I cannot escape the glorification of dog-eat-dog capitalism that has been drilled into my head since childhood. I am from New Jersey, America’s armpit, and in New Jersey, everyone is looking to capitalize. People are happy and willing to fuck you over, whether it’s your dentist, your mechanic, or your plumber. It’s sink or swim, and this potent lack of sympathy, empathy, and general compassion that permeates the unregulated (and not metaphorically) toxic air has granted me the capability to commodify my own suffering. I know that now, the depressive nature of my DIY bedroom pop had market-value.

I began making music because it was therapeutic, not because I was interested in selling my sadness. I had recently experienced that whole “flood” thing that happens after years of repressed childhood trauma, and I was rather enticed by the flames of the commercial music industry. The binate attraction/repulsion drew me in like a tiny, flammable, dusty little moth, so all it took was a Soundcloud DM from another young cog-in-the-machine-to-be for me to break the piggy bank and buy my ticket across the pond. I was plucky and naive, ravenously excited by it all, and without going into the nitty-gritty, my bruised, yet recovering psychological state-granted me the privilege of a newly found, deep emotional investment as I embarked on this new journey.

Pro-tip: emotions and the music industry are a volatile combination.

Fast forward a year, and I am battered by industry rejection and the sudden death of my father (who I had a very fucked up relationship with). My momentous re-emergence into the sphere of “feeling” came to a quick halt. My resulting, vague existence was spent mostly in my room in East London in the house that I shared with six other people. My day-to-day life wasn’t anything particularly exciting or novel. I was just another apathetic, useless, broke millennial. (I would have bought the avocado toast if I could afford it). I observed and critiqued and judged. When I was working, I served almond lattes to the rich. When I wasn’t working, I rode the bus with the not-so-rich to go buy those gentrifi-lattes. I was a part of the problem. Everything became a joke. The tragic comedy of my reality became a comfort, so I sang about it:

Kill Your Local Indie Softboy is just a lighthearted critique of performative creativity, allyship, and wokeness in the young, privileged Western male.

Wrapped in Gold is a sober tune. An analysis of my generations struggles with cultivating healthy relationships. The normalisation of the starkly abnormal, the blurred lines between love and hate, BDSM, violence, now edgily stitched onto mass manufactured “choke me daddy” crop tops. Had we created a new standard, as we attempt to transcend the confines of social media? Perhaps we crave more from our interpersonal relationships so that when we encounter authentic, blood-pumping human bodies, we want to destroy traditional means of intimacy and dig as deep as we possibly can. We want to rip the flesh off. We want to experience it all, the death, the life, the rebirth, the hurt, the healing. Do we want to engage with the subterranean ferocity bubbling beneath this perfect, filtered surface? We either want to dismantle our chronic superficiality through love and sex, or I’m just a kink-shamer.

Rubies is self-explanatory, about my struggle with self-harm. Self-awareness, that I am commodifying my pain – this brand spanking new, updated, detachment 2.0.

When I bleed, all I see are rubies, money to be made.

As I actively commodify this pain in order to succeed, what does that even mean? Success itself feels unattainable at times. Recognition is innately satisfying, but “success” is hard to distinguish in the shadow of reality – the looming, heavy presence of climate change specifically. Is success money (yes, probably), inner peace? Healthy, happy offspring? How can these things function as mediums in channelling collective human “purpose”, when extinction, the most permanent of endings, looms? For this reason, I, as do many others my age, drift onwards. With baby nihilism growing in our bellies, we proceed with painful awareness, always watching and observing and considering. All I can do is capitalize on the detachment, the sadness, the je ne se quois “cool”. I choose to put a drink in my hand, my body in the club, and try my best to have a good time.

Follow Izzy Camina on Instagram and listen to Nihilist In The Club now below.