Isabella’s Favorites of 2014

Another year’s come and gone and 2014 has definitely been a memorable but difficult one.  From interviewing incredibly awesome artists like Frankie Rose and Twin Shadow at the beginning of the year, nearly losing my mind thanks to school, visiting Houston, Boston, and road-tripping to Big Bend over the summer, starting senior year, seeing Outkast live at Austin City Limits in October, turning 18, and getting accepted into my first universities this past fall (!!), a lot of pretty big things have been happening for me, and many of these albums served as the soundtrack to those moments.  While I didn’t quite fawn over albums this year the way i did in 2013, 2014 didn’t leave me disappointed in the slightest.

I never like ranking albums because I can never create criteria within myself to accurately judge them, so in no particular numerical order here are my favorite albums from 2014, along with my favorite songs (sometimes you can’t pick just one) from each.


1989

1989 // Taylor Swift // Favorite song(s):  “Style”, “Blank Space”

Alvvays

Alvvays // Alvvays // Favorite song(s):  “Next of Kin”, “Archie, Marry Me”

Angel

Angel // Pure X // Favorite song(s):  “Valley of Tears”, “Heaven”

Aquarius

Aquarius // Tinashe // Favorite song(s):  “Bet on It (feat. Dev Hynes)”, “2 On (feat. ScHoolboy Q)”

Are We There

Are We There // Sharon Van Etten // Favorite song(s):  “Your Love is Killing Me”, “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”

Atlas

Atlas // Real Estate // Favorite song(s):  “Crime”, “Had to Hear”

Black Moon Spell

Black Moon Spell // King Tuff // Favorite song(s): “Sick Mind”, “Eyes of the Muse”

Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Burn Your Fire for No Witness // Angel Olsen // Favorite song(s):  “White Fire”, “Stars”, “High and Wild”

Doss - EP

Doss EP // Doss // Favorite song(s):  “The Way I Feel”, “Extended Mix”

Dunes

Dunes // Gardens & Villa // Favorite song(s):  “Domino”, “Bullet Train”, “Echosassy”, “Purple Mesas”

Four

Four // One Direction // Favorite song(s):  “Night Changes”, “No Control”, “Fireproof”, “Stockholm Syndrome”

LP1

LP1 // FKA twigs // Favorite song(s):  “Lights On”, “Pendulum”, “Kicks”

Mr Twin Sister

Mr Twin Sister // Mr Twin Sister // Favorite song(s): “Rude Boy”, “In the House of Yes”, “Blush”

Salad Days

Salad Days // Mac DeMarco // Favorite song(s): “Let Her Go”, “Chamber of Reflection”

Run The Jewels 2

Run the Jewels 2 // Run the Jewels // Favorite song(s):  “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) [feat. Zach De La Rocha]”, “Love Again (Akinyele Back)”, “All Due Respect (feat. Travis Barker)”

Ritual in Repeat

Ritual in Repeat // Tennis // Favorite song(s):  “Night Vision”, “I’m Callin'”, “Timothy”

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Piñata // Freddie Gibbs & Madlib // Favorite song(s):  “High (feat. Danny Brown)”, “Broken (feat. Scarface)”, “Uno”

No Mythologies to Follow

No Mythologies to Follow // MØ // Favorite song(s):  “Maiden”, “Slow Love”, “Pilgrim”, “XXX 88 (feat. Diplo)”

Say Yes to Love

Say Yes to Love // Perfect Pussy // Favorite song(s):  “Dig”, “Big Stars”

Shriek

Shriek // Wye Oak // Favorite song(s):  “The Tower”, “Glory”, “School of Eyes”

Singles

Singles // Future Islands // Favorite song(s):  “Seasons (Waiting on You)”, “Doves”

St. Vincent

St. Vincent // St. Vincent // Favorite song(s): “Birth in Reverse”, “Prince Johnny”, “Huey Newton”, “Rattlesnake”

Sucker

Sucker // Charli XCX // Favorite song(s):  “Sucker”, “Breaking Up”, “Need Ur Luv”

They Want My Soul

They Want My Soul // Spoon // Favorite Song(s):  “Inside Out”, “Do You”

The Voyager

The Voyager // Jenny Lewis // Favorite song(s):  “Head Underwater”, “She’s Not Me”, “Just One of the Guys”

The Pinkprint (Deluxe)

The Pinkprint (Deluxe Edition) // Nicki Minaj // Favorite song(s):  “All Things Go”, “The Crying Game”, “Get on Your Knees (feat. Ariana Grande)”, “Four Door Aventador”, “Trini Dem Girls (feat. Lunchmoney Lewis)”, “Anaconda”, “Shanghai”, “Truffle Butter (feat. Drake & Lil Wayne)”

The Moon Rang Like a Bell

The Moon Rang Like a Bell // Hundred Waters // Favorite song(s):  “Out Alee”, “Innocent”, “Xtalk”

Sun Structures

Sun Structures // Temples // Favorite song(s):  “Shelter Song”, “Mesmerise”, “Colours to Life”

Tough Love

Tough Love // Jessie Ware // Favorite song(s):  “Want Your Feeling (feat. Dev Hynes)”, “Kind of…Sometimes…Maybe”

Warpaint

Warpaint // Warpaint // Favorite song(s): “Keep It Healthy”, “Hi”, “Disco//Very”

White Women

White Women // Chromeo // Favorite song(s):  “Come Alive (feat. Toro y Moi)”, “Lost on the Way Home (feat. Solange)”, “Somethingood”

What Is This Heart_

What is this Heart? // How To Dress Well // Favorite song(s):  “What You Wanted”, “Words I Don’t Remember”, “Very Best Friend”

You're Dead!

You’re Dead! // Flying Lotus // Favorite song(s):  “Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”, “Siren Song (feat. Angel Deradoorian)”

Z

Z // SZA // Favorite song(s):  “Julia”, “Hiiijack”, “Warm Winds (feat. Isaiah Rashad)”, “Childs Play (feat. Chance the Rapper)”, “Sweet November”

Picture You Staring

Picture You Staring // TOPS // Favorite song(s):  “Way to Be Loved”, “Blind Faze”,  “Superstition Future”, “Change of Heart”

Aside from these albums, I really enjoyed a lot of singles that were released this year (I’m now an unashamed and avid fan of PC music) as well as singular songs off of albums released this year where the album didn’t quite do it for me, but the song did.  Click through the songs to listen to them (all links are Souncloud/Youtube).

Beautiful // A.G. Cook

Every Other Freckle // alt-J

Lipstick // Ariel Pink

I’ll Be Stoned for Christmas // Dent May

How About Now // Drake

Tear the House Up (feat. Zebra Katz) // Hervé

Going Out // Hospitality

Heavenly Father // Isaiah Rashad

With You (feat. Kelela) // Kindness

Boom // LE1F

Asleep // Makthaverskan

Froot // Marina and the Diamonds

Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) // Mark Ronson

Another Night // The Men

Champions of Red Wine // The New Pornographers

Breakdown // Peaking Lights

Fall in Love // Phantogram

Gust of Wind (feat. Daft Punk) // Pharrell

Dragons // Princess Nokia

Hey QT // QT

Lifestyle (feat. Young Thug & Rich Homie Quan) // Rich Gang

Noetic Noiromantics // Shabazz Palaces

Touch // Shura

Hard // SOPHIE

Bassically // Tei Shi

Sweet Spot // Wild Beasts

Aaaaaaand that’s all for 2014!  I’m sure throughout this year I’ll find gems from 2014 that I’ve missed out on or fall out of love with some albums or songs, but I’m extremely excited for what 2015 has to bring both music-wise and life-wise.

Austin City Limits 2014

Originally published in the October issue of InkArt, a collaborative student-run literary magazine published between Sci-Tech and Med High

Music festivals are pretty scary places.  Between the throngs of strangers, the ridiculous amount of bands present (and the set conflicts that ensue – EEEK!), rampant cultural appropriation (PSA:  bindis and Native American headdresses are NOT fashion items), and the very real possibility of you not making it to a port-a-potty in time, it becomes fairly clear why people avoid these massive concert events.  However, Austin City Limits consistently continues to be one of the best ways for people (especially teenagers in high school who don’t live fairly close to big cities) to see multiple bands in one place in the span of one weekend.  Complete with a breathtaking view of downtown Austin from the park, incredible food from local eateries, and plenty of activities to participate in when you need a break from the crowds, Austin City Limits truly holds its own among the countless other music festivals in the festival circuit.

Weekend two’s festivities were made special by the fact that many of the sets were being livestreamed on YouTube, giving the artists a little push to do something that would want to make people tune into their particular set.  Childish Gambino’s late afternoon set on Friday drew a massive, energized crowd that danced and rapped along at every moment, even when he performed a new track less than one week old.  He lit up the stage with both charisma and pyrotechnics, and surprised the crowd by closing out his set with by premiering the music video for his song “Telegraph Ave.”.  The day closed out with one of the most heart-wrenching set conflicts of all time – Beck vs. Outkast – but Outkast brought the party with them, tearing through hits and classics such as “Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya” while having their fun with the crowd at Zilker Park.

Saturday brought a fair amount of rain and more mud than was appreciated, but that couldn’t stop the party.  Mac Demarco’s mid-day set drew one of the most engaged crowds of the whole weekend, with everyone dancing along as he played songs like “Freaking Out the Neighborhood.”  He crowdsurfed, he joked, he even pulled up a guy from the crowd and got them to do the guitar solo for his song “Ode to Viceroy,” and he killed it!  He then met up with fans at the side of the stage after his set and was all in all a really great guy and a great performer.  The night brought out the party animals as big name EDM artists like Major Lazer and Skrillex dominated the late night slots, and Zilker was bathed in neon light and thumping bass.

IMG_0413

Mac Demarco at Austin City Limits 2014

Sunday morning brought an early, electrifying performance from Danish songstress MØ, whose solid voice and exciting stage presence made her show all the more memorable.  The electronic duo Chromeo gave festival-goers their dose of funk for the weekend, treating the crowd to hits like “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” and “Fancy Footwork.”  The night ended with perhaps what enticed most people to buy a weekend two pass:  a breathtaking performance from Lorde.  The New Zealand seventeen-year old commanded the stage Sunday night, her incredible voice filling the night air and her spastic yet calculated stage movements capturing the attention of all who watched.IMG_0492

Lorde at Austin City Limits 2014

Though the festival has long been over, the afterglow of those three days still lingers, whether in the form of post-concert depression, the lingering taste of those kimchi fries from Chi’lantro, or the comfort of your commemorative t-shirt.  The experience of Austin City Limits is not one that is easily forgotten, but one that is eagerly awaited for as soon as you step foot back home.

Interview: George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow

Originally posted on Ouch! My Ego on March 7, 2014

Dancing in the Dark: An Interview with George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow

The very first time I heard of Twin Shadow was back in my eighth grade year, and it just so happened to be because of one of Urban Outfitters’ LSTN mixtapes — a free monthly compilation of songs that UO published back in 2010 in order to further it’s hipster credentials.  Though the mixtapes spanned only 15 volumes and abruptly stopped, my love for Twin Shadow has only grown since I first heard “Slow” through my tinny, pink gummy headphones.

The music of Twin Shadow is incredibly unique:  chock-full of dark, groovy guitar riffs with strong R&B undertones and accompanied by Lewis’ amber voice, giving every listener vivid images of lost love and longing through his poetic lyrics.  I had the chance to see him for the first time at the 2011 Austin City Limits Festival, and then exactly one year later in McAllen, where I got to meet him and briefly speak with him about his music and his life (shout out to Patrick Garcia for making this happen!).  It seems that my story with Twin Shadow is a continued one, as I got the opportunity to speak with him the other day and ask him a couple of questions.

When I called him, he was driving through Los Angeles, where he’s now living.  He recently moved to Hollywood from Brooklyn in order to finish polishing up details on the third album, which will no doubt live up to the standards that its predecessors have established.  Throughout this morning drive, I got to speak with him about video games, dancing bachata, and Kendrick Lamar.

You visited McAllen the first time in September of 2012, and now you’re back to headline Galax Z Fair III.  What made you want to come back?

I always feel like our Texas shows are our best shows.  It’s kind of weird, in a way.  It was especially nice to go to McAllen and to go to this kind of off-the-beaten path place and have so many people enjoy our music.  We always like going to smaller towns to play shows because it’s really worth it.

What’s changed between then and now?

I can’t even remember when we were there.  I know we were there, but I don’t remember at what point in Twin Shadow we were there.  I know it was after the second record came out, but not too much has changed.  I’ve been working on this new record.  The band hasn’t been playing out too much.   We’ll probably play a couple of new songs while we’re there, maybe two or three.  We’ll be testing out all our new material on you guys, and then say to the crowd in Austin that it’s the first time anyone’s heard it.  So you all will actually be the first to hear it.

In regards to your new music, do the songs sound anything like “Old Love/New Love”?

It’s kind of interesting.  That song is much more dance-y, and so far that hasn’t happened much on the record.  But it could change, the record is still not done yet.  We’ll see what happens.

“Old Love/New Love” was recorded for Grand Theft Auto V, and you also lent your voice for the radio host of the “Radio Mirror Park” station in the game.  How did you become involved with Rockstar Games?

I’ve known those guys for a while now, and we’d always talked about doing something.  I’ve kind of become friends with a bunch of those guys over there, and we just talked about doing something together for a long time, whether it was soundtrack work or whatever, and they had the new Grand Theft Auto they were developing, and they reached out to me and were wondering if I wanted to host the radio show and do songs for the soundtrack, and that was it.

Do you play Grand Theft Auto?

Haha!  You know, they gave me a copy of the game for the Xbox.  I’m one of those people who I’ve always been bad at video games, and I hate being bad at something.  I’m really awful  at video games; always have been, always will be.  I played it a few times.  I still haven’t heard my songs playing in the game, so I don’t have that experience yet.  I play it time to time, but often times with video games I’ll find myself playing it for a day and then never playing again.

I just recently heard the cover of The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” that you did with Samantha Urbani for your UNDER THE CVRS series.  Which song did you enjoy recording the most?

Probably my 112 cover of “Cupid”.  That was like, my favorite song when I was in high school.  That song soundtracked my high school years.  That was really cool, and I liked that one the most. But they were all really fun to record, it was fun to record other stuff.

Was one of them more difficult to do than the others?

 I mean, reinterpreting a Smiths’ song isn’t easy.  I think all of them were kind of a challenge in a way because they’re all really, like, big huge amazing songs.  And it’s always pretty easy to fuck up a cover.  But it was fun, I didn’t really have to think about it.

What were your high school years like?

Ha, well I didn’t really go to high school.  I basically dropped out of high school when I was in my sophomore year.  So my high school years were actually pretty exciting.  I wasn’t in school, I made a bunch of friends.  Well, two of my good friends dropped out kind of alongside with me; they dropped out first and I was like “That’s a good idea!” So I dropped out and I just hung out with a lot of older kids, and it was exciting.  I don’t recommend it for everybody, but for me it made a lot of sense to leave high school.  A lot of it actually I can credit music to doing that, because when I dropped out I used to hang out this little club called The Blue Parrot, and I met this older guy Zach who really just taught me so much about playing guitar and songwriting.  I wouldn’t have had that if I had stayed in school.  So I really kind of became a musician by doing that.

My mom was funny [when I dropped out].  Since I was so young, I actually had to get signed out, like officially I had to have my parents sign for me so that I could drop out of high school.  My mom actually said to me, “Well, Bill Cosby dropped out of high school, so I guess you can.”  So I got the OK.  She’s the best.

You were born in the Dominican Republic, and you just recently played a show in Santo Domingo at the Isle of Light Festival.  What influence has being Dominican had on your music?

I grew up in America; I was born in Santo Domingo but I really grew up in Florida.  I think being a Floridian has more to do with my music than being Dominican at this point.  The more I spend time down there and the more I reconnect, the more influence I do think it has.  I’m very interested in Dominican music, and I want to learn what I can kind of take from it, because it really is very unique and I’m very drawn to it.

So can you dance merengue?  Are you a good dancer?

I can dance merengue and I can dance bachata.  My salsa is not so great, though.

As an artist, is fashion and the way you present yourself a big deal to you?

 I always say that it’s just like a life thing, I don’t think it has anything to do with being a musician or being in Twin Shadow.  I care about presentation in everything.

Do you have any favorite designers or collections?

Right now I’m working closely with this company called the Public School.  They’re doing really well; I’m a huge fan of theirs and a huge believer.  I just did the music for their runway show [at New York Fashion Week].  They’re amazing.  What they do is really inspiring.

Are there any artists or bands that you’re liking at the moment?

I just met up with these guys called Milo Greene, and I’m excited about new things that they’re working on.  I’m super excited by Kendrick Lamar.  I think he’s gonna save music.

What do you think of the apology text Macklemore sent Kendrick after winning a Grammy?

I don’t think anyone should apologize for winning an award.  I mean, awards are such a joke anyways.  All that matters is the impact that the music has on people’s lives.  It’s nice to win an award, of course.  It’s definitely a musician’s dream to win a Grammy because we all grew up thinking, “Oh, that’s the pinnacle of getting the credit you deserve,” I suppose.  I think Kendrick’s music has had a much bigger impact in a real way.  I know for me, listening to Kendrick’s music, it’s a given to me that he’s probably one of the greatest artists of the last ten years, and he’s just going to continue making amazing music.

Can we expect to see you in the crowd for some of the sets at Galax Z Fair III?

Yeah, for sure!  I want to see what’s going on there.  I’ve been kind of checked out for a while.

Album Review: ‘St. Vincent’ by St. Vincent

Originally posted on Noise Polluter

If you take St. Vincent’s discography and play a game of “One of These is Not Like the Other,” you’ll have quite a difficult time, seeing as none of the albums are like one another; each has its own distinct identity.  This is what Annie Clark has come to gain praise for:  crafting, innovating, and inventing sounds that redefine the very construct of pop, alternative, or whatever genre people choose to place her in, time after time.  The truth is that there is no mold to fit the expansive sounds of St. Vincent.

Largely veering away from anything anyone could have expected from her, St. Vincent’s new self-titled manages to retain a very individualistic quality while at the same time taking pages from her past work, bringing forth an album well beyond the 21st century; chock-full of ear-splitting but meticulously constructed guitar riffs and lyrics that are pure poetry, while still colored with the wry humor, lovelorn nostalgia, and passive aggressiveness that St. Vincent is known for.

Songs such as “Digital Witness” and “Huey Newton” serve as the poster children of the album, both carrying an undercurrent of contempt for the technological age of today, while in different forms.  The album slows down on “I Prefer Your Love,” a ballad that would presumably get lost among the fervor of riffs in other songs, but is exquisitely carried out and serves almost as a palate cleanser. “Prince Johnny,” a lyrical narrative of a boy looking to be found relevant, is quite honestly the best track on the album, and sounds like it could have been a bonus track on 2012’s Strange Mercy; however, its magnificence would have been lost among the tracks similar to it.  Its inclusion on St. Vincent among the gritty riffs of “Birth in Reverse” and “Regret,” and the brilliant insanity of “Bring Me Your Loves” add a completely new dimension not only to the album, but to St. Vincent’s music overall, showing Clark not only as a true master of her craft, but also as a ever-changing, continually powerful musical force.

Interview: Frankie Rose

Originally posted on Ouch! My Ego on February 10, 2014.

Seeing Through Rose-Colored Glasses:  An Interview with Frankie Rose

Back when I was an eight-year old, frizzy haired little girl, my dad bought a circular plastic star map, showing all the constellations present in the night sky, complete with labels, and a small chart showing all the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere, as well as where each one will be during a certain month.

Every time we took a trip to the beach, I would pack it into my backpack, along with my armada of Bratz dolls, and at night we would sit in the driveway and stare up into the sky, perhaps searching for the three collinear stars marking Orion’s Belt or for the familiarity that was the Big Dipper.  Flash-forward to 2014:  the frizzy hair persists, and my love of the stars remains fervent and has turned into looking at the stars for meaning – whether it be in the form of my astrological sign (Scorpio, if you were curious) or perhaps claiming that certain events happen because of the stars.

Surely enough, the stars have aligned and have presented the valley with a beautiful event:  Frankie Rose performing at Cine El Rey this Thursday February 13.

A not-so-unfortunate cancellation of all her Pacific Northwest shows and a Valentine’s Day performance in Austin opened up a window for her to come down to McAllen and charm us with her exquisite dream-pop music, something which she has actually been seeking to do for a while.  “I’ve heard only amazing things from everyone who’s been going through there,” she says, “I’ve been wanting to go down there forever, but unless you’re already sort of in Texas it doesn’t make huge amounts of sense to get down there.”

I got the chance to speak with Frankie about her Mexican heritage, being a band leader, and if blondes really do have more fun.

 

I’ve read that you’re of Mexican descent – where in Mexico is your family from?

My family is from Chihuahua, but they are from Texas before Texas was part of the United States, so they’re like Tejanos.

 

Are there any elements of Mexican culture that you’ve still retained?

I have all my grandma’s recipes – I make Pozole all the time.  All that is ingrained in me, and my mom lives in Tijuana.  I’m third generation American, I don’t even speak Spanish, or at least not very well so that’s a shame, I wish I did.  I definitely relate more to the Mexican side of my Cultural heritage.

I love border towns, that’s why I love Tijuana and Rosarito, I love Mexican culture and I love Mexico.  I’ve wanted to do a tour there forever it just, never seemed to work out so this is as close as I’m going to get, but I’ll take it!  I’m really excited.

 

I’m currently in high school and it’s said that the music I listen to now will be what continuously influences me as I get older.  What were some of your favorite artists while you were in high school?

The Smiths was the main band, I was obsessed with the Smiths all from when I was twelve and on, up into high school.  That was definitely the soundtrack to my adolescence, I would say.  That was my number one.  The Smiths, The Cure… There are definitely influences from The Cure in my music.

 

Herein Wild, to me at least when I listened to it, it took on a more serious tone compared to Interstellar.  To me Interstellar was like this huge, ethereal, fluid album; it resembled being in a dream, and Herein Wild was sort of waking up from that dream.  Was there a certain theme or attitude you wanted to try and convey with this album?

I really like what you just said!  I feel like that’s really close to how I felt about making it, actually.  Herein Wild is a lot harder-edged, the drums are really present, it’s not sleepy at all, there’s not really any sleepy parts on the album.  I really love the analogy you just gave actually; I think it really sums it up.  There are a lot of themes actually running through Herein Wild that I don’t think I actually even intended to have.  It was a vision of what was happening with me at the time, and even though they’re pop songs and they’re more straightforward and more serious, the lyrics are serious and dark; it’s a dark record, even though it’s poppier.

 

Was the writing process different compared to your other albums?

 

With Herein Wild I had four months to turn around an entire record, so it was really different than Interstellar.  I wrote songs for Interstellar for like a year before we recorded it and we worked on it in pieces so I had a lot more time to work on that one.  So it definitely was a little bit different in terms of the writing process.

 

I’ve been looking at some pictures of you recently and it hasn’t been too long since you dyed your hair blonde.  Do blondes really have more fun?

Haha! I have more fun looking at my pictures.  I think if you have black hair, your hair just kind of blends into the background of the photograph, so it’s crazy ‘cause I can actually see what my hair looks like for once!  That’s kind of fun.  So yeah, I guess blondes do have more fun.

 

I’ve also noticed that you’ve got some really cool tattoos on your arms!  I’m a big fan of the significance that tattoos hold – do yours mean anything in particular?

You know it’s so funny, I forget. I got all my tattoos when I was really young, so now I forget that I have them.  If I could go back I probably would not have done it at all.  It’s sort of the first thing people notice about you when they see you, which is why I would tell anybody not to get a tattoo.  You don’t want to be defined by a tattoo.  It’s just some scribbles on my arm and none of them really mean anything!

 

You’re a former member of Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, and Vivian Girls.  Is there something that you took from being in these bands that found itself into your solo work?  Maybe things you picked up from other members?

Each one was a really great learning experience for me, sometimes positive and sometimes negative.  I definitely took away things from each band.  For example, JB of Crystal Stilts is an amazing guitar player and I learned so much from him.  I learned how to run a band, how to be a band leader, I learned what things I didn’t want to do, how I didn’t want to run a band.  Just sonically I absorbed something from all the bands, what it is exactly I couldn’t tell you.  From record to record you learn more and your style changes.

 

Would you say you prefer working with yourself being the band leader as opposed to being in a band?

I really do like working alone.  I like working with a producer though, because I really do like having someone to bounce my ideas off of, and there’s a lot of things that I’m not particularly skilled at, like I’ll hear something – a synth I want or something, I’m not the most amazing synth wizard in the world – so it’s nice to have someone around to help shape the ideas, like the production ideas that I have, because that’s my strong point.  I’m not a great musician, I just think that I have ideas, and I want to see them manifested.  And that is the most gratifying thing, to have your sort of vision realized.

 

You currently live in Brooklyn, and countless bands make a sort of “pilgrimage” to Brooklyn, you know, and they start themselves up and become these Brooklyn-esque bands.  How has living in Brooklyn inspired you?

I don’t think that I’m specifically influenced; in fact, I think being in Brooklyn is detrimental to me because there’s no space.  I really don’t go outside for inspiration.  It’s purely internal for me.  You could pretty much lock me in a room, and I would find all I need in there.  I could be anywhere.

 

Your show in McAllen is the night before Valentine’s Day.  I have to ask – are you the romantic type?

No, I’m really not.  It’s terrible but I’m not.  I’ll go out to dinner with friends but not a big thing.  I don’t like big productions.

 

Interview: Ida No

Originally posted on Tigersblood.org and on the Italians Do It Better blog on November 8, 2013.

Through the Glass: An Interview with Ida No, by Isabella Soto

Back in July of 2012, McAllen got its first taste of Glass Candy, the electronic duo comprised of producer Johnny Jewel and frontwoman Ida No.  What we experienced was a fresh, fun, energetic show full of the lush and bubbly Italo-disco music that has become synonymous with their name.  And on November 10th, we’re going to bust out our dancing shoes once again and head out to Cine El Rey for their show with fellow Italians Do It Better label-mates,Chromatics.  Recently, I had the chance to ask Ida No a few questions on her life and on Glass Candy.  Here is our conversation:

I was reading that you were born on September 28, the same day as Brigitte Bardot, and that you have the same blood type as Marilyn Monroe. Do you feel a certain connection to either of these two iconic women in any aspects of your life? Do you try to establish yourself as an icon as well?

Ida No:  I certainly wouldn’t ever think of myself as being iconic at their level, but I do really like the idea of the female icon. I’ve been very inspired by strong, outspoken women in my life.Siouxsie Sioux, Debbie Harry, and Nina Hagen were my obsessions when I was a teenager and probably my biggest influence in deciding to cast off my shyness and be the front woman of a band. All three of them have a very strong presence and let their unique perspectives on life come through in their lyrics. Those are the main themes I focus on in Glass Candy. Iconic ideas. I am very happy to hold up my little candle to their giant stars because these women have given me a lot.

There’s a line in “Beatific” that says, “People’s rules and what they do are often different things.” As a musician, do you have rules that you have to set for yourself while making music? If you do, are they more to steer you in the direction of what you want to achieve, or to keep you from doing a particular thing?

IN:  The only rule is there are no rules. That’s the reason Glass Candy has remained fiercely independent. For me it would be nothing without all the exploration that leads to revelation.

The music of Glass Candy has been used in fashion shows for designers such as Chloe, Balenciaga, and Chanel. Does fashion play a large role in your life, in the image of Glass Candy?

IN:  That’s a really good question and one that I still can’t quite figure out. I really love personal style, but that’s different than fashion. I love fashion, but I am not sure I really understand it. I enjoy it more in the way that I enjoy a beautiful painting, or a film, or an extravagant multi-tiered cake, but I don’t understand how you would wear any of those.

In times where you aren’t touring of making music, what do you like to do?

IN:  I just started taking ballet again, and I’m training with classical piano and voice.

From what I understand you and Johnny Jewel are almost opposites, but you balance each other out. In what ways is he different from you, and you from him?  How do you play off of each other’s differences?

IN:  John is the nucleus and I’m the electron. John has two feet firmly on the ground and I’m out circling the stratosphere. It’s like how the flower needs the root and vice versa. How nature sustains and the world goes around because of the dynamic tension between opposites. That’s Glass Candy.

What artists do you consider to be some of Glass Candy’s primary influences? Are there any artists that you particularly identify with?

IN:  Our influences range from Kraftwerk to 70’s neon punk like the Sex Pistols, 60’s girl groups like the Shangri-Las and The Ronettes, 80’s synth music like Gary Numan, Dark Dayand Suicide, and a huge dose of disco music as well as hip hop, The Velvet Underground, opera, film soundtracks and vintage TV theme songs. We love The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I can’t say I identify with any particular artist. I just admire them through the glass.

What’s the writing and recording process like? As opposed to conventional recording, is there anything that is done differently?

IN:  I don’t know how conventional recording is done but I’m pretty sure that’s not how we’re doing it. John is the only person I have ever recorded with. We do our creating separately in different cities, and then fuse it together in a “big bang” kind of moment and boom…. there’s a song where previously there was a void. As for the actual process of this music being committed onto some form of physical media, I couldn’t tell you a thing. As many years as I’ve sat there in the studio and stared at John while he’s mixing and cutting Glass Candy tracks, I still have no idea what he’s doing over there because I’m a Libra and it’s way too complicated. He’s Gemini with a Libra moon, so we find our way.

Are you reading anything at the moment? Who are some of your favorite authors?

IN:  I like to read Yogic philosophy. I love Sri Aurobindo. There’s a really great book by his disciple Satprem called “The Adventure Of Consciousness” that is one of my all time favorites. Another book I revisit a lot is “The Mark” by Maurice Nicoll. I love the poetry of Sylvia Plath, and anything by J.D. Salinger.

The first time you played in McAllen was in July of last year. Had you heard about McAllen before coming down and playing here? Did what you heard before and what you experienced after differ?

IN:  I had never heard of McAllen before, but I think it’s the cutest and most mysterious place ever. I always keep a list of cities that intrigue me. I told John I wanted to come back next time we were in Texas. 

As a band that has been together for over 15 years, how do you believe your sound has developed over time? In achieving the sound you have now, was it a sudden change, or did it just come naturally as a result of both yourself and Johnny maturing?

IN:  It has grown as we have grown. It would feel unnatural to never change.

It seems as though Alberto Rossini is the director of choice not only for Glass Candy’s videos, but for the videos of almost all the groups signed to Italians Do It Better. Is there a reason as to why you enjoy working with him so much?

Yeah, it seems like he’s just one of us. He always knows how to please us. It’s like he shares a brain with us. His films are not narrative. Just mood, and we of course love that.

What should we expect at the show come November 10?

IN:  Glass Candy has a surprise addition to its act, and I think both bands will be extra excited because now McAllen is a nostalgic place for us to come back to.