Student artist creates dark electro hip-hop

Photo courtesy of Michaela Perau
De Montesquiou’s music emphasizes authenticity. She hopes to serve as a role model for aspiring younger artists. 

A pioneer of her specific brand of dark electro pop, Isabella de Montesquiou’s career is only just beginning to take off.

The Thornton senior, who goes by the stage name of IZZA, started playing the piano when she was 5 years old, with a focus on classical music. Soon after, she realized that it was not her calling but later discovered songwriting in her teenage years and used it as an outlet to express herself.

“When you’re in your teenage years, you’re trying to figure out how to navigate friendships, different relationships and just life in general,” de Montesquiou said. “So I just turned to writing [lyrics] and then those turned into songs, and I haven’t stopped since because it’s just so therapeutic to me to just write a song about what’s going on in my life and I just have so much clarity when I’m writing music.”

Although de Montesquiou would characterize her genre as dark electro hip-hop, she takes inspiration from pop and rock music as well.

“Kanye [West] has always been my favorite artist and someone I really look up to as a musician because of his ability to just transform himself through every album but stay true to himself as an artist,” de Montesquiou said. 

When writing her music, de Montesquiou carefully crafts her lyrics before putting together the melody. The lyrics she writes stem from all the emotions she experiences in her daily life.

“I’ll feel a certain way if I’m having a bad time with somebody or heartbreak, or I deal with depression and anxiety so I want my music to talk about mental health because I know that music nowadays doesn’t necessarily do that, but I think mental health is super important to talk about so I definitely talk a lot about my internal struggles,” she said. 

De Montesquiou finds it important to remain completely authentic in her music and to accurately portray raw emotions without glorifying them so that listeners are able to relate.

“I really enjoy writing about the good times too,” de Montesquiou said. “I like contrasting the two because that’s reality since not everything is going to be great 100% of the time and not everything is going to be bad 100% of the time.”

Music video producer and director Edwin Franko, a 2019 USC graduate, has known de Montesquiou since 2018 and is currently working with her on a music video for her upcoming track.

“She’s building a sound that is so unique that it’s hard to find someone to compare her to,” Franko said.

He hopes to continue collaborating with de Montesquiou in the future while also helping her find her unique voice. 

“She understands the music business and understands branding and she’s just creating a sound that’s different and I just really like it,” Franko said.

Skylar Jones, a USC alumna, met de Montesquiou in a songwriting class last year and became her producer. Their chemistry and ability to work well with each other have given Jones and de Montesquiou all the tools they need to continue their professional partnership, Jones said.

“I’m pretty excited for our future working together,” Jones said. “I always go back and forth between creating music and the cool thing about IZZA is that she always finds a way to get me back into action about making music some way or another.”