Chrysalis's Indigo Ansin Emerges

In this episode of Sounds of Berklee, the Boston Calling–bound indie folk artist explores how discovering songwriting and a supportive queer community led to deeper self-discovery.

May 25, 2023

It's a dream most musicians harbor, secretly or not-so-secretly: to be discovered. That somehow, somewhere, on a street corner, in some small club, outside a rehearsal studio, in a downtown food court—someone with influence will be walking past, and what they hear will stop them in their tracks. Then they'll turn around, extend their hand, and offer some big opportunity.

Of course, there are countless ways into music, and every path is paved with hours of practice and hard work. But sometimes, along the way, there are moments that can truly feel like a dream come true.

In this episode of Sounds of Berklee, Berklee student and singer-songwriter Indigo Ansin, who performs as chrysalis, talks about just such a moment in May 2022, when one minute they were busking at Boston's Faneuil Hall, and the next, the booking agent for Boston Calling introduced himself. That discovery led to chrysalis being given a slot at this year's Boston Calling festival, where they'll share the stage with artists such as Foo Fighters, Paramore, and Joy Oladokun.

Discovery is a central theme in Ansin's story. Becoming a musician and enrolling at Berklee helped provide Ansin a space to explore and express their identity as trans and nonbinary, and to connect with a larger queer community. "I was finally able to physically express myself," they said. "I felt so free for the first time, that the music just poured out of me."

Listen to the conversation and check out an excerpt from the interview transcript (edited for length and clarity) below.

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Bryan Parys: Before music was a career choice, what was your relationship to it? Were you always playing and just not thinking about it as a vocation or job? Or was it the side character that you then at some point realized was the main character?

Indigo Ansin: Well, when I was a kid I always was super into music. I was like Sharpay from High School Musical. At family events, I would be like, "Guys, stop what you're doing. I have a dance routine." Nothing was choreographed. I would put on like, "Replay" by Iyaz, or "Dynamite," and, like, do cartwheels. So I was always kind of kooky, and I always loved to sing.

I went to an arts high school and majored in theater there. It was a program that is supposed to prepare you for a B.F.A. in musical theater. There was a lot of pressure to do that. It felt so restrictive. It felt like the absolute opposite of expressing yourself and being creative, and I didn't really have the time to think outside of that and be like, is this actually something that I want long term? I did always know that I didn't feel a hundred percent satisfied just pursuing musical theater.

But yeah, so then I stepped back. It's Covid. I'm home. I also have a lot happening with me and also in the world because it's 2020, and I'm graduating high school on Zoom—actually YouTube live stream. I have no sense of closure for this part of my life. I'm going into this new part of my life, and I don't know what to do with that. I'm like, where do I go with that? With those feelings—I can't just exist with them; I'm going to explode.

So I started writing around that time, because a month before I had had this dream where my friend was singing to me, and then I remembered the melody from the song and the dream. And then I wrote my first song that way.

Episode Credits

Produced by Bryan Parys
Coproduced, mixed, and edited by John Mirisola
Theme music by Sleeping Lion

Media excerpted (all songs by chrysalis):

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