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 Day and 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.
Isabella Soto is a contributing writer for tigersblood.org, and is a junior at the Science Academy of South Texas in Mercedes, TX. You may follow her excellent twitter account at @westernfeelings, or here.
Tickets to the Glass Candy + Chromatics show at Cine El Rey on Sunday, November 10th may be purchased online or at the venue, day of show. Grab your tickets online here.