curtains: in conversation with isabella fortuna

neeharika nene

For its creators and connoisseurs alike, music intertwines itself with real world experiences on both obvious and subconscious, more visceral levels. Speaking with Melbourne-based musician Isabella Fortuna on subjects of death and spirituality is seeing the inner workings of an artist’s mind.

Her music is soothing and dreamy, and the words have a powerful beauty to them. Everything she creates comes from a place of pure love for the art. She is very much in tune with her intuition and spirituality, which makes for an interesting discussion with endless room for questions and their possible answers.

In our interview, we converse at length about the experiences that have shaped her view of death, how it pressures us to be productive, and the possibility of an afterlife that is in equal parts thrilling and terrifying.

Push up Daisies: What has your relationship with death been like? How do you perceive it?

Isabella: I think that that’s a big question. I have a fluctuating relationship with death. When I was younger, even the thought of death was just absolutely terrifying to me, so I avoided thinking of it at all but in more recent years, I have quite a curious relationship with death.

I suppose it depends on how I’m feeling and whether or not I can detach my emotions from the idea of death. When I think about it objectively I am just very curious about the physical experience of death, what it means to leave your body, and how it feels to be no longer in your skin. I kind of think of it as a visceral kind of physical thing. I’m just very curious, and sometimes I crave the feeling of being without skin. I feel like that sounds utterly morbid but it’s really not. It’s more just curiosity.

It’s so fascinating how death impacts us and it’s physically impossible for me to even fathom what death is, but when people that I have known have died, there’s an unexplainable feeling around it. It seems transformative, and every time that I know someone and they die, it brings me back into my life. Of course it’s horrifying and upsetting in some aspects but it makes you realise how strange and absurd life is and how weird it is that we are here with so much depth in our conscience and everyone has a different meaning of life, but no one can really know what the meaning of death is. It’s just so big and so unexplainable and no one knows what it is until it happens.

Push up Daisies: Are you religious or spiritual? Does that also affect how you view death?

Isabella: I am not religious, but I definitely would say I’m spiritual. I am quite connected to the energy that is around us and my connection with spirituality is almost unexplainable. I don’t really know what it is, but I believe in the universe. I believe there is no way that there couldn’t be intention with the way that the world has unfolded and how everything has been placed. There is energy around everything.

I was kind of introduced to the idea of spirituality though my mum, because she is a spiritual practitioner. She’s a medium and she has always been incredibly psychic. It’s created a really interesting experience for me growing up with her, because she is very hyper aware and I think that in some sense I have similar experiences, but maybe not to the same extent. She is really connected to everything and is a very fascinating person. That was definitely how I started to be a bit more in tune with the world around me. But I think that it is when we’re in line with our intuition and not blocking it out that we can feel the energy around us and we can feel death or the death of others in a way that isn’t just physical.

Push up Daisies: As a child, did you talk about death often at home?

Isabella: I don’t think it was a huge topic of conversation. My parents were always open with me, though. If I asked them about death, they weren’t hiding anything ever. My mum believes that we have lots of past lives. She believes that we go into a different body after we die, so I have pondered that because of her. It was never really taboo in our home, but we spoke about it more after mine and my brothers first experience with death. We unpacked it a little bit more once we felt the impact of it and what it’s like.

Push up Daisies: As a musician, does death or the fear of it inspire you or drive you to create more?

Isabella: I definitely think that death has woven its way into my music and my creations. More in the sense that I have, in the past, been very depressed and almost played with the thought of what not existing would be like, and that has come out through my creations. I have played around with the feelings of numbness before and I have reoccurring motifs in my music about my body, what it means to be in my body, and what it would be like to be without it. That has made it’s way into my music more than an explicit thought of death.

But often with any creative thing that I am doing, I don’t really understand it until after, a lot of the time. Once I pick up a path I can see a lot of influence and a lot of thoughts around what life is and therefore what death is as well because they are they very interlocked with each other. I have at least subconsciously spoken about death, but I find it difficult to consciously write or create. If I am too in my head and trying to write about something really specific, I stop being able to write at all.