By Essie Lustig 05/31/2012
Angela Izzo came to Ventura via New York and Florida, and you can still hear a sweet twinge of an East Coast accent when she says she was genuinely drawn to California because she is a creative person. Originally a student of visual journalism at Brooks Institute, Izzo quickly found herself absorbed in a documentation process that she has undertaken for the past four years: a visual chronicle of Ventura’s burgeoning and well-established bands.
Going to California
Sneaking through doors, past bouncers and linebacker-size security guards, stealthily excusing herself with lines bordering on comical, Izzo was frequently able to shoot some of rock ’n’ roll’s most innovative acts from The Raconteurs to Lykke Li. When she came to Ventura, she decided she wanted to make a music video, but in order to make a music video, she needed a song. “I found Amelia [Ralston-Okabayashi] from Crippled Puppies and just said, ‘Let’s record a song.’ ” So they recorded “Fake is the New Real,” which is still available on Izzo’s YouTube channel. Since then she has photographed dozens of local musicians, from Tall Tales and the Silver Lining to Neal Casal, and directed music videos for Gypsy Death Star, Todd Hannigan and Alexandra and the Starlight Band among others.
Guerrilla in the midst
“I came here and I saw this great talent right here, this amazing quality of music,” Izzo said of her discovery of Ventura’s ever-growing community of bands and artists. In 2009, she released, “We Love the Art Barn,” a documentary film that screened at the Ventura Film Festival about the colorful venue. It is clear she found a sense of community in Ventura, a town she finds enchanting. “It’s so beautiful, you know, the weather’s nice. Of course there is the beach and everyone is pretty laid back . . . well, not too laid back. I just noticed this big family. It took me about three years to get to know people, but now I feel I’ve earned the respect [of the musicians]. It’s better when they’re comfortable around me so they can be themselves.”
Perception is reality
Izzo knows that it is easy to mix business with rock ’n’ roll, but friendships aside, she keeps a professional distance. She knows she is a documentarian, having spent the last four years piecing together footage of local bands with interviews and stills, a project she’s still trying to figure out a title for. As she forges her bonds with the artists, occasionally she loses her focus; but as a visual journalist inspired by Annie Leibovitz and Autumn de Wilde, Izzo feels a sense of responsibility. “Sometimes you could get lost in the party,“ she says, but adds, “I feel I have a social obligation.”
Keeping it professional (sometimes)
Although she is only 26, Izzo may serve as a role model for future guerrilla music documentarians, and she can even espouse a little bit of advice; “Don’t quit. You never know who you’ll meet or what bands you’ll end up working with. There is a story behind each image. Besides, it’s fun. They [the artists] have to be able to trust you. Just keep at it.
Passing the torch
To view Angela Izzo’s work, visit www.izzoimages.com.