Sometimes it will just hit me and in ten minutes they are done…I like to write songs about cities and the characters I meet there…(on songwriting).

Addi Israel

Singer-songwriter, Listen on Spotify

We sat with area musician Addi Israel, we explored influences, songwriting and the recording process, Covid and creativity, and what’s coming up for this unique singer songwriter.

Addi Israel 01:02
Well, my name is Addison Israelson. I was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin and I got into music at a very early age. There were always records spinning around the house. So just being exposed to that through osmosis, picking up artists like Bob Dylan, Al Green, Lou Reed. So all of that became in my sphere of influence and became a big interest for me.

Brent Hanifl 01:25
Going through your YouTube page, checking out your videos on Facebook, you know, you definitely hit on some of those influences there. I mean, it’s modern to me, but also kind of old timey sound. What are some of your kind of modern influences?

Addi Israel 01:38
Well as anybody that’s, you know, someone who’s more modern, present day, my favorite contemporary group is the Drive By Truckers.

Brent Hanifl 01:46
Oh, okay.

Addi Israel 01:47
I love their songwriting, their depictions of the south and their political critiques. And I just I absolutely love the Truckers and I think Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley are two of the best songwriters out there.

Brent Hanifl 02:01
Do you have any bad blood between the old Drive By Truckers and the new Drive By Truckers? Are you okay with that?

Addi Israel 02:06
I you know, I like the Isabel era and I you know, I like everything that they’re doing now so yeah, I’m good with everything.

Brent Hanifl 02:14
Sometimes people get upset I think it’s kind of like I guess the Uncle Tupelo thing, you know, with Wilco and Sun Volts or something like.

Addi Israel 02:21
That’s funny you mentioned that because I definitely I fall more on the, I like Sun Volt. I like Wilco. I don’t listen to as much Uncle Tupelo, so.

Brent Hanifl 02:30
What is your songwriting, you know, and recording process like? Is it fast and furious? Or do you take your time with it?

Addi Israel 02:37
It’s a mixed bag. Sometimes the songs will just hit me and 10 minutes they’re done. A song like Great Plains, I was on my way to La Crosse Public Library and just kind of heard that play to my head, wrote it down quick and there was the whole song. But there are some that’d be like more arduous like unfold and look at that kind of thing. I like to write songs about cities and the characters I meet there so a lot of my songs are places I visited. Just traveling songs, work songs, just Americana you know.

Brent Hanifl 03:04
Just talking about writing about the place you’re at recently, on YouTube you have Perpetually Driftless people can check it out on YouTube and a video with it. How did that song come about? It’s really interesting to hear you know you have people in La Crosse that write about this area. You know, but those specifics about the blue bridge or downtown you only see it in a handful of artists where you know exactly where that is. You were like nailed like every location La Crosse pretty much.

Addi Israel 03:49
I guess with that song it was a track that I wrote when I moved back to La Crosse. And I probably guess I composed that one in 2017. And I wanted to write about the characters and the people that I met right off the bat and that becomes sort of my longest enduring friends like Sam and Michael that I name drop in that track. But also it’s like I wanted to kind of touch on what Andy Warhol looks at with his you know that there’s no stars in the New York sky they’re all in the ground. I think La Crosse has a lot of talent there’s a lot of interesting people and there’s a lot of beauty and I just wanted to put little pieces of that into a song.

Brent Hanifl 04:25
Yeah you know it’s really interesting just having La Crosse Local, we’ve talked to you know, a couple 100 individuals from the area either living here now or gone and it’s just highly original songs or writing or painting that I’ve, you know, I just never knew being in a local here except for a small time away. It’s quite interesting to see this coming out of this venture.

Addi Israel 04:46
You know, I wager too, I think the Mississippi River has something to do with that there. It just draws a lot of creative types and I know a lot a lot of great artists from La Crosse both visual and musical and I think they’re drawn to the area like you mentioned. There’s just a lot because of its beauty.

Brent Hanifl 05:02
How was the COVID sort of intermission for you in a sense? I’m sure you weren’t playing, you know, were you recording? Were you working?

Addi Israel 05:09
You know, I tried to make the most of COVID especially during those early months like I feel very blessed to have been able to get a job at the Love Child. Working for Jay and Joan was an incredible experience. I did some substitute teaching at Central High School and I really liked the staff and community there. And there’s really no place I would rather been during COVID than in La Crosse and just being able to kind of escape the worries of COVID and go out into Hickson and work on songs. And you know, go down to the bars and bring the guitar It was like it was very, very relaxing. A nice break from the chaos in the outside world.

Brent Hanifl 05:45
What’s next for you now that we’re you know, we have a little bit more freedom I’d imagine hopefully artists can continue to play. What’s next for you the next six months to a year do you have any songs coming out albums?

Addi Israel 05:56
Well, as of right now I get my mail in Memphis, Tennessee. So I’m down south on the river about 800 miles just working on some new music. I’ve got a new record. That’s putting pieces together called Northridge Revisited, obviously paying homage to Dylan but a little bit of a nod to the Driftless area, Northridge road in La Crescent.

Brent Hanifl 06:20
So if people want to find out more, what’s the best spot to go to, to follow along?

Addi Israel 06:24
I put everything out on YouTube and Spotify and everything will be released as Addi Israel. And you know, links to my music and videos and such I’m kind of an amateur video maker too. So like if you watch the Perpetually Driftless video, there’s a lot of characters and there’s a lot of people that very close friends of mine that I put in the videos. And that’s kind of what I like to base my my videos off of is that again, the stars on the street in the stars of people that you meet and you know, given them their moment to shine.

Brent Hanifl 06:55
So why are you down in, are you writing songs for other people? Is it specifically just to get close to the music scene down there?

Addi Israel 07:02
I really like Memphis, Tennessee. It’s a very happening place. Yeah, yeah. It’s, um, you know, obviously the origins of rock and roll. I came here for the historical perspective. And I’m also going to be taking some classes at the university here. So I’m very excited for this opportunity. And just being down here in Memphis is, you know, incredibly motivating musical experience as well as great music everywhere. Just being on that Mississippi River.

Brent Hanifl 07:28
Yeah, well, I mean, its definitely your sound definitely fits that too. I mean, you own it, man.

Addi Israel 07:34
Thank you, Brent. I really appreciate that.

Amy Gabay 07:40
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at, and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us to rate us five stars, we appreciate it.


About La Crosse Local

La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.

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