If you love euphoric, retro and cutting-edge dance music, in particular, icy-cool disco and the halcyon days of Studio 54 - then brace yourselves, for glitz and glamour is once again set to take dancefloors the world over by storm! And at the helm of this movement / revival are multi-instrumentalist + producer Johnny Jewel and frontwoman Ida No, otherwise known as Glass Candy. A duo who have just been ranked # 3 in NME's 'Top 25 Bands Making America Cool Again' - an article which concluded, "The future's bright and it's glitter-ball shaped."
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Ida and Johnny met in 1996 in a grocery store (where Johnny was working at the time) and bonded over Andy Warhol and modular synthesisers. Then, after Johnny's girlfriend kicked him out of their apartment a week later, they moved in together, learnt instruments, worked on music (a sound likened to Nico at the time) and in 1998, became known as the wonderfully named Glass Candy & The Shattered Theatre, releasing a handful of 7"s before eventually signing to DJ Mike Simonetti's Troubleman Unlimited label.
On their "brief and brazen" debut album, Love Love Love (2003), the band favoured a raw, lo-fi and searing no-wave punk rock sound, which was coined as "Death Disco". But for Simonetti's New Jersey offshoot imprint, Italians Do It Better, they have now consolidated their origins with a more digital disco sound, which features sequencers, synths and drum machines, covered with Ida's dreamy and sensuous vocals and packaged with vibrant visuals, B/E/A/T/B/O/X (2007).
When quizzed about Italians Do It Better, Johnny divulged, "It started as an illegal edits label. Mike wanted to keep the name separate from TMU for legal reasons, and then it kind of snowballed into this partnership for Suite 304 and Italians. There is so much stuff coming out of our studio that we decided it would be better if it all shared the same stamp, and Mike asked me to handle the art department because all of our favourite hip-hop, dancehall, and disco labels have such a cohesive visual aesthetic. We wanted to do something really conceptual, blurring the lines between artists like Warhol's Factory."
During the intervening years between Glass Candy's LPs, they issued tantalising limited edition vinyls, gave away tour-only CDRs and regularly posted MP3s of demos, cover versions and remixes over the Internet. And as is still the case to this day, these songs frequently evolved from the pair's initial ideas, with the beats, grooves and rhythms often being re-recorded, before the acclaimed After Dark compilation (also featuring Chromatics and Farah who Johnny collaborates with), brought them to the attention of a much wider audience.
Speaking of Glass Candy's musical inspirations, Johnny has stated, "Anything with a really strong pulse and strong vocal, whether it's dancehall or Frank Sinatra, is what we're really drawn to. Anything from Missy Elliot to Alan Vega to Iggy Pop, they're all very strong vocalists who paint strong images and set a stage for the music to reside in. It's all very visual, and in my opinion that's what Ida does." One journalist even observed, "Ida retains an empowering lack of self-consciousness - though the echo on her voice suggests that you need not apply. Her star is born through physical inaccessibility and the fact that she's better friends with the DJ than you."
With dazzling disco acts such as Glass Candy on its roster, and with songs offering romance and emotion, the Italians Do It Better label is proving just that! And in the immortal words of a global superstar called Madonna, "And you can dance, for inspiration "
1. How does it feel to be ranked # 3 in NME's 'Top 25 Bands Making
America Cool Again' - and are you pleased that people all around the
world are beginning to embrace the Italo Disco revival?
A very special thanks to Ida and Johnny, and to Italians Do It Better, for all of their time and help.