Glass Candy
USA / European Tour
August - December 2008
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

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…"

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

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?
"We actually didn't hear about that yet. That's silly. It's cool that people are getting into what we are trying to do out here, but those 'Buzz Lists' are conceptual press pieces - they have very little to do with reality. We don't take media coverage very seriously. What's Italo Disco?"

2. What's the story behind your name Glass Candy, and can you tell us about the evolution of your sound from the early days of "Death Disco" right up until now?
"Ida came up with the name, because we were really into The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We wanted something that had that Spiders From Mars kind of glamour with cinematic cult appeal. Glass Candy & The Shattered Theatre was the original name, although Johnny wasn't that into the name at first… but it just stuck. We dropped The Shattered Theatre part, because booking agents kept thinking we were fire dancers that performed Liza Minnelli numbers nude."

3. Is it correct that the idea of 'duality' is very important to you?

"Definitely. Ida is a Libra with the scales and Johnny is a Gemini… aka a two headed monster."

4. Continuing with this train of thought, are there any male and female musicians who you would like to see record together as a duo - that you could perhaps even produce?

"We're not good matchmakers - it would be a disaster."

5. For you personally, what have been some of the most important albums from the last 50 years, and if you had to pick a favourite Decade for music, which one would it be?
"We love The Supremes, Suicide, B.I.G., Bridgette Bardot, Iggy Pop, The Velvet Underground, Link Wray, Eric Satie, Nico, Sandra Bell, Warsaw, Freda Payne, John Carpenter, Expose, Mirage, Jay-Z, Donna Summer, Shocking Blue, Carl Perkins etc. The list goes on… We always go back to the production of records between 1976 and 1987, but there is so much new music that we love too. The world is shrinking so fast, it's really inspiring."

6. What inspires you outside of music and have you ever had a life-changing moment?

"Ida loves doing Yoga + taking Dance Classes. And a life-changing moment? Johnny was kidnapped in Houston when he was 17."

7. How would you spend your ideal day?
"Wake up - Breathe deep - Fruit for breakfast - Swim in the ocean - Build a fire on the beach - Fish for lunch - Wine for dinner - Sleep outside under the stars and dream of being able to fly."

8. The way Italians Do It Better releases music, seems to be very relaxed and unconventional, with Mike Simonetti elaborating, "Glass Candy has so much loyalty, because they make exclusive material and sell it to the fans who come to the shows." Is this something that you would like to continue?
"We have a strong policy at Italians Do It Better, 'Art Over Business'. We release songs when they are done - we have no timetables for artists and no deadlines. It's done when it's done. We have complete control of the final product. Italians Do It Better is 100% artist oriented - no contracts, no strings, no censorship."

9. What are the most important elements that your music should have, and ideally, would you prefer to remain as outsiders, or for your songs to have greater mainstream exposure?
"We will always be outsiders, that's not a matter of choice, it's just that way. We don't know why? We want as many people to connect with our music as possible, but that desire does not affect the creative process. We know that we are making odd music and we accept what comes with that. We hope our songs uplift and inspire people to do whatever it is in life they want to do."

10. While researching, I read that Ida's "quite a dark person and she needs the music to be a little more upbeat for her to be inspired by it." And how for you, "the music is trying to animate Ida's lyrics, which are always written before the music - that you get a feel for it visually, and try to write music to wrap around the lyrics and underscore the weight of the lyrics." But what are the main themes of your songs?

Life After Sundown > life after death
Rolling Down The Hills > astral projection
Feeling Without Touching > spiritual wealth vs. material gluttony
Animal Imagination > exploring the limbic system of the brain
Candy Castle > building a cage of fear around yourself
Beatific > the view of god from the cradle to the grave
Brittle Women > magazine beauty growing old
Digital Versicolor > listing the chakras from the ground up
Etheric Device > interdimensional mind travel
Sugar & Whitebread > American politics
Love Love Love > individuality
Dream Lover > objectification of the opposite sex

11. You view yourselves more as visual artists than as musicians, and have even called Glass Candy "A Concept Band". So, as artwork is so important to you, what are some of your favourite record sleeves of all-time?

"Almost any Reggae record cover is going to have sick sleeve design - those are the best!"

12. If you could be magically blessed with any skill, what would you like to be able to do?

"Ida wanted to work with kids and Johnny wanted to be a carpenter."

13. What does it mean to you to play your songs live and as a dance-based band, of your favourite artists, if you had to pick the ultimate 'Up For It' song and the ultimate 'Chill Out' song, what would they be?

"We like to explore the songs live and improvise a lot. The live set is usually a blur for us - we are more into interacting with the energy in the room and letting whatever is going to happen come through. The ultimate 'Up For It' song > I Get High by Freda Payne. The ultimate 'Chill Out' song > Juicy by Notorious B.I.G."

14. What are your biggest hopes for Glass Candy long-term?

"We hope to make the sickest record we can this year and keep pushing ourselves to progress as people, working through all the bullshit that challenges us."

15. Lastly, chips or cream buns?
"Ida likes sugar and Johnny likes salt."

Ida No
Johnny Jewel

A very special thanks to Ida and Johnny, and to Italians Do It Better, for all of their time and help.

"This is a message to all our friends - this summer is gonna be sick!
All our friends look good and we are coming to see you
We'll dance all night and if you need more, just look us up!
That's right everybody, for a good time, call Glass Candy
Come on now, don't be shy…"

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?