Indra, named by her mother after the Hindu warrior deity of the sky and the rain, was born to a Puerto Rican social worker, Elizabeth, and an African-American-Syrian jazz bassist, Donald Moore (his credits include, the New York Contemporary Five, Archie Shepp, Elvin Jones, Sonny Rollins, and Jackie McLean). Growing up in a tough neighborhood, Indra spent her formative years in an imaginary world with her mother’s extensive record collection of jazz, soul, and rock music for company.
Singing was always a private experience for Indra, but at the age of 13, her mother convinced her to audition for a place at Mannes College of Music; despite her inhibitions about her singing Indra was awarded a scholarship. Indra developed her soprano voice and during the same year that she started studying at Mannes, she attended the Village Harmony, summer camp in Northern Vermont. Her teenage years were spent in a musical parallel existence; one full of classical arias and vocalization practice and the other filled with traditional American folks tunes and old Balkan folk songs in the woods of Vermont.
While working as a waitress in a Brooklyn wine bar, she met Benjamin Traerup, a Danish jazz saxophonist; three weeks later they were living together and one year after that they were married and living in Denmark. According to Indra, “If I hadn’t been young and a little stupid I would never have moved to Denmark, but I was in love, and I still am, so it was a pragmatic choice. It took me four years to learn Danish, as it is not a language that falls naturally from an American tongue. In the end we found that creativity was in part born out of hardship.”
Indra, her husband and his friend, bassist, Thomas Sejthen formed a trio in 2007 that soon built a strong following in Denmark and Scandinavia. Their debut album, ‘Indra’ was nominated for a Danish Music Award in 2010 for Best Jazz Vocal Album. For Indra the closeness of their musical relationship is very important to the sound that they create. “Our stage constellation is not me out front, we stand in a small U and we’re never more than an arms length from one another. It’s a feeling that we wanted to capture in the recording of Heartland.”
No sooner had Indra won the Danish Music Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2012 for ‘In Between’ her second album than her thoughts turned to making a follow up. Among her favorite recordings Indra counted Joni Mitchell’s 1994 album, Turbulent Indigo and so she thought she would reach out to its producer, Larry Klein, to see if he could create a similar kind of magic in the studio for her next project. Sending Klein an email with her hopes, as well as her ideas, for the project along with a link to some music brought an immediate response. Klein was interested. But before anything could happen Indra and her husband had their first child, a boy, and at the same time a close family member lost their life to cancer.
When her thoughts returned to recording her album began to take shape and in August 2013 Indra, Benjamin and son, Paulo, went to America; after three days in the studio with Larry Klein it was recorded. “Larry Klein captured a level of intimacy in my headphones, the like of which I have never experienced in the studio. He went on to create a mix that reflects the intimacy of our stage performance.”
“We invested every penny we had, and more, to make this record, and given that neither Benjamin nor I are irresponsible people it came as a shock to both ourselves and people that know us well. What it came down to was that we understood the risk and we knew we had to somehow leap over the outer risk of investing everything and take hold of the inner risk of allowing our creativity to flow. In the end it has been totally worth it.”
Heartland is unique collection of songs, songs that represent Indra’s eclectic musical background including, jazz, folk, rock and classical music.