This conversation is sure to stick with you. Irene is a beautiful soul and you can hear it in her insights, her music, and the way she tells her story. She is a multi-talented individual with a diverse background. She has honed her skills in music as a singer and songwriter, but she also holds qualifications as a mechanical engineer. In addition to her professional pursuits, Irene was previously part of the Mormon community but has since left the church. She owns a business called “Irene’s Entropy,” which offers support to others who have overcome trauma and are striving towards success. Beyond this, Irene has also created “The Identity Project,” an initiative that uses both written letters and visual art to explore the journeys of women on their path to healing from various traumas.
We spoke to her about her most recent release ‘Identity’, a song that comes to confront us with our truth, whatever it may be, and with which the artist hopes to reflect on what part of our identity is suffocated due to addictions and layers that don’t belong to us.
What was the creative motivation behind your latest song “Identity”?
When I first conceptualized writing what became the song “Identity,” it was the first time I admitted to myself that I was an addict to the defense mechanisms and habits of my past. It was only 2 years earlier that I became estranged from my family and started my life over after leaving Mormonism. It was mental torture as I drugged myself through a complete shattering of my identity and had to start over again, and again, and again.
The lyrics mention spending “twenty years of life in heaven” only to realize it wasn’t real. What does this line represent in your journey?
People often say cults feel like heaven when you’re in them, but they’re hell as soon as you leave. I wrote this line as a representation of that feeling…I was 21 when I left.
In the song, you talk about making your bed with gods and angels. What’s the symbolism behind this choice of words?
I grew up in an orthodox Mormon home. My entire identity was wrapped up in that belief system and history. From a very young age, I wrestled with the reality of gods and angels that were constantly introduced to me in stories. I made my bed with the insanity of mental gymnastics and emotional manipulations of the religion and called it comfort. The weight of it all felt familiar and protective when I was in it, but it became a monster when reality hit—it was crushing me.
The chorus repeats the phrase “From this day I am sober”. How significant is the concept of sobriety in the song’s narrative?
It’s the most significant concept of the song. Although I had no addictions to physical substances, I had other addictions to codependency and infantilization. I chased dopamine highs in a haze of obedience, drugged by the promise of priceless knowledge. Even after leaving Mormonism and my family behind, the damage from a lifetime of swallowing the same pills of ego, shame, guilt, and a predetermined identity left me crippled. I’ve had the opportunity to sit with recovering addicts of physical substances, and when we listen to this song we relate on a fundamental level of trauma, recovery, and identity shift. It’s a hard road, and you must be comfortable with the idea of starting over again and again.
This song might be one of the hardest and most realistic I’ve ever heard. But, beyond the musical, how was your personal journey when making it?
I wrote this song 3 years ago, and I’m still on that journey. My life started over at twenty-one—I’m twenty-six now. And for as much work as I’ve put in, the song is more relevant and real to me now than it was the day I wrote it. I’ve failed enough times and gone to the darkest of places…perhaps the one consistent part of my identity that never changes is my resolve to get up and start over as many times as needed to succeed. The truth is that once you’re an addict, you’ll always be an addict…you just learn to be aware of yourself and the things that might trigger relapse, and you take control of the situation.
Could you share insights into your creative process while crafting the music to match the emotional depth of the lyrics?
There are many songs I start writing on my acoustic guitar or piano and then take it to the band to see what we come up with…this one was purely lyrical and I think I had most of it written before I even put melody to it. There wasn’t much creativity needed—it was just communicating the reality of how it felt to relapse over and over again. I was desperate to find myself in the lyrics, and looking back, I think I did.
How has your journey of self-discovery and recovery influenced you as an artist and as a person?
It’s everything. It’s a fire that begins when I wake up in the morning to the second I collapse into bed. Every bit of Irene’s Entropy exists to make me a better person and to facilitate conversations, thoughts, and actions for others who are looking to learn, change, and grow. My self-discovery and recovery is a pure reflection of this music and this album. I’ve written so many songs, but I’ve carefully chosen the ones that were placed on this tracklist. Every lyric has a purpose, and the production of every song tells an important chapter of the story.
What do you hope the impact of “Identity” will be on your audience?
I hope it provokes every listener to ask what their addictions are, and what part of their identity is stifled because of those addictions. We live in a world with drugs beyond physical substances—social media, work, money, popularity, politics, religion—those addictions keep so many people in a haze of anxiety, depression, self-loathing, and bitterness.
I hope it demands intelligent thoughts from the listener while promoting change and growth. I’m honestly tired of listening to the most popular songs in the media sounding like a broken record spinning the same subjects of depression, sex, or heartbreak without taking the listener anywhere. We’ve lost musical elements of storytelling to catchy beats that distract us from life rather than challenge us to focus on how we can learn, grow, and improve ourselves. Identity is my first attempt to change that narrative.
Let’s talk about your project “Irene’s Entropy”. How and when was it born? What does it consist of?
Irene’s Entropy is a business and a brand that helps others understand they don’t need to be the victims of their own abuse. The music happens to be a vessel that spreads that message, but there is so much diversity in what I’m trying to accomplish with Irene’s Entropy as a business. I hope that one day when someone sees a business that has partnered with Irene’s Entropy, or a stranger in an Irene’s Entropy t-shirt, there is a general understanding of, “Ah, that person is definitely into self-reflection and growth, and they have damn good taste in music.”
As far as the history of the band (which is considered a main portion of the business at this point)—we started fooling around in our friend’s basement (the drummer on this album) in 2019. When the pandemic hit we all agreed to be in each other’s safe bubble during quarantine…I had never been in a band before and I had only just started learning guitar. It was quite clunky at first. I’d show up with a song I wrote and would half sing, half beat box what I was imagining and the guys would make my vision a reality. Some songs on this album were finished in a month, but others took 2 years to complete. To make things more complicated, I was writing so many songs that I recorded a separate album (High Water) with another group of musicians, also under the name Irene’s Entropy. It was a bit of rough navigating but it soon became clear that no matter who I played with…I am Irene, the music is my story, my entropy, my disordered energy, and chaos. If you play with me, you’re a part of my entropy and encompassed in what Irene’s Entropy is.
What meaning does this album have for you?
I’ve said more than once that if I finished this album and died tomorrow I’d be happy with what I left behind in this world. This project is not just my story…it’s an album to uplift, challenge, and change the listener. It takes you on a journey and guides you to visit the parts of yourself that you might have forgotten were there. And by the time it’s over, I hope it inspires others to not be afraid of taking their own journey of self-discovery.
After having read so many hard stories and having lived such a hard story yourself, do you consider yourself an optimistic person or the opposite?
I’m going to answer this one honestly. I’m optimistic about some things, most often overcoming challenges. If there is a mountain to climb I will keep myself motivated and optimistic until I reach the summit. But in personal moments I’m still learning how to be optimistic towards myself.
Lastly, can you provide any hints about your upcoming project that you said you’ve been working on during the last 5 years? What are we going to find in that EP?
Follow along with the music videos. As the singles get released, you don’t want to miss the easter eggs that are hiding in each chapter. If I had to make musical comparisons, you’ll find all sorts of rock influences from Paramore and Blink 182 to RAGE and Temple of the Dog. It’s lyrical storytelling from the 70s with the attitude of the 90s wrapped in a unique modern finish. The goal is that people press play on the first track to hear good music and end on the last track having found a piece of themselves.
Irene harnesses the power of storytelling through lyrics and melody while guiding her audience on a journey of self-discovery. In her own words, “Today, you live the life you make. So take it, and be unafraid—to love yourself is brave.” Persephone III
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