Half a decade ago, Jay and Jo Indigo started producing a unique brand of psychedelic bluesy hip-hop in a back-house Oak Cliff studio. The pair found a musical rock to stand on with the addition of Sneedless Indigo on bass and Tito Indigo on drums, and thus were born the Chilldren of Indigo.
The band's name is a play on "Children of Israel" and the "Indigo Children," two historically "chosen" groups (albeit with polar-opposite levels of gravitas), as Jo, the group's singer, explains. The "Children of Israel" being a biblical term for the Israelites, and the "Indigo Children" being a moniker for a group of highly aware, intuitive children predicted by a pseudo scientific New Age “thinker” from the '70s. It is between these concepts that the Chilldren of Indigo kind of exist: somewhere in between religion and cult, band and movement.They exist in a genre-less world somewhere in the chasm spanning from Shuggie Otis to Otis Redding to Redd Foxx to Foxygen, from oxygen to hydrogen to the hydrogen bomb. Their forthcoming album Native Alien comes from this realm of intermediates, borders and middles, a region of push and pull.
“I don’t believe I'm an alien,” Jo Indigo says on a hot Texas night on the patio of Deep Ellum bar The Free Man. “It’s a play on words talking about American society as a whole today. Everybody’s equally native and alien to any place.” The musician sips his whisky and looks up, either ruminating on what he had just said or giving the table the opportunity to do so, only to interrupt the silence with “but it may just be about that contrast — this and that.”
Tito chimes in, laughing, “Also ‘Native Alien’ is a free-to-use font we like.”
It is in this way that Indigo seems to function, a dichotomy where they begin by suggesting the merit of one idea, and, in conjunction, another one that may oppose it but is presented as equally valid. They tread this land of anomie and in-between ideas as a journey that, in turn, colors Indigo as a band. The group writes music inside of that conflict, weaving what could be seen as dissonant or incongruent ideas into one common voice made of clutter.
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Chilldren has three online-only albums under its belt and plays frequently with other multi-genre misfits like Cure for Paranoia and Electrik Ants. The fact that each band number is known by the last name of "Indigo" truly denotes the group's cultivated foggy air of mystery and cult-like commitment to the project.
There may be no better song of theirs to express this give-and-take and duality, than “Seventeen,” one of their first singles off Native Alien. In the song, Jo laments the push and pull of healthy and destructive actions related to aging, such as progression and self-realization versus nostalgia and yearning for the past. He recounts his story using his ages as chapters, focusing on three phases in his life that led him to where he stands today.
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He starts with the life of a wayward 17 year-old, a product of his less-than-desirable environment, blaming that environment and acting out as a result, ending with a felony conviction. From here Jo establishes his mantra — “I was seventeen/I was only seventeen.”
Next, he chronicles the ages of 18-21 wherein he spent his years attempting to forget his world with drinks and drugs going so far as to say “22, 23, 24/ just a blur to me,” until he dejectedly realizes that he had not appropriately confronted his demons and was “still seventeen.”
The third verse serves as his hero’s return. At 25, he felt a “quarter-life crisis” and began constructing this world to be his own and forming Indigo in the process. However, this success was taken in stride, as he reveals that even though he is pushing forward, that kid still lurks. Inside, he’s “still seventeen.”
The song expresses Chilldren of Indigo's unique duality. It’s a song that evokes both cheers and tears in equal measure. It’s a song that sings that children can be adults and adults can be children, coming from a band that is simultaneously angry and content. A band that is both stone-cold thoughtful while also playful, bordering on frivolous. But the way of the Chilldren of Indigo is this: these dissonances are not only normal, but they are in this world to be celebrated. They and those existing with them, are "chill" indeed.