Lia Ices performed at the Oakland/SF Station to Station stop.
Lia Ices is toeing a lot of lines. Her music has been compared to everyone from Joni Mitchell to Joanna Newsom to Kate Bush, but there is an unusual mix of power, control and sci-fi weirdness to her work that eschews many of the qualities associated with the female singer-songwriter stereotype.
Ices’ voice is emotive but not affected, and she negotiates beats of silence with avant exactitude. Each track on her debut album Grown Unknown is so patently pleasurable to hear, you might make the mistake of relegating it to reading music before giving it the undivided listening it deserves.
Last year, her sparse piano ballad “Love is Won” aired over the credits of the penultimate season-one episode of Girls. The stripped-down song is an entry point into Ices’ intricate form of emotionally-driven pop, and its accompanying music video, shot by Ices herself on an 8mm camera while on vacation with her partner in Rome, reflects her theater background.
“My work goes in the tradition of giving away something very personal,” she says, “maintaining intimacy with myself and the listener.” Citing the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz as one of her earliest musical memories, “I watched it every day as a two- and three-year-old. I was completely transfixed by the mysterious and supernatural elements of the film — and that there were songs to go with was the best part of it.”
Her much-anticipated second album, written with her brother Eliot Kessel, is set to be released on Jagjaguwar next spring. “It’s a monumental shift for me,” she says. “I wrote it with Eliot and did production with Chris Puff and Clams Casino.” If her current oeuvre is any indication, it’s Ices’ forward-thinking process and willingness to experiment that keeps her music strangely timeless. “This album embraces the future. I’ve come to believe that technology has the power to further exploit the human emotion we crave in music.”