Named after a town of 19 in the Northern Great Plains, Ismay represents the work of singer/songwriter Avery Hellman. Just as with the name, Ismay seeks to uncover ways in which the place we live changes us, and how the natural world provides deeper meaning. For Ismay, a life lived in rural California connects them with the landscape, providing a freedom to express gender identity, and the space to create music. Mystical lyricism, ethereal vocals, and dynamic fingerpicking on guitar are the defining features of their music. With works covering wild horses to wildfire, Ismay’s sound is unmistakably connected to the landscape in which they live.
Announcing Ismay's debut full-length record, Songs of Sonoma Mountain
Five years spent working and living on the family ranch informs Ismay’s debut full-length record, Songs of Sonoma Mountain. This album was recorded in a 100-year-old sheep barn at the ranch, seeking to immerse the listener in the world of Sonoma Mountain, and to evoke the sense that we aren’t as separate from nature as we may think. Co-produced by Robert Cheek (Engineer: Band of Horses, Chelsea Wolfe) and Avery Hellman, Songs of Sonoma Mountain features live vulnerable performances that bring out the character of the space. These songs tell stories from the perspective of the mountain, the animals upon it, and Ismay themself to examine gender identity, loss, and a search for belonging. The record interweaves field recordings with intricate songwriting and experimental production. Ismay has also compiled a series of narrative documentary stories about Sonoma Mountain to accompany the record, to be released as a podcast entitled Where the World Begins in early 2020.