GOODBYE, GLASS CANDY
“GOODBYE, GLASS CANDY”:
AN EXPLICATION OF MY SONG, MY VIDEO, MY OBSESSION.
By Baron von Luxxury
The song “Glass Candy” came out of a remix I did for the Portland-based band of the same name. “I Always Say Yes (Baron von Luxxury Remix Odyssey Parts II & III)”, was called “song of the year” in Pitchfork at the time by HEALTH. This is ironic since both my song and my remix stem from my rather un-health-y obsession with the band Glass Candy.
I first heard Glass Candy’s “I Always Say Yes”, one of the very first songs of their (at the time) newly reinvented Italo disco sound, in 2005 on the blog 20jazzfunkgreats. I was instantly attracted to and devastated by the sound, because it was what I had been trying to make myself, but…worse. Yet better. Yet also just really different, but totally the same. By which I mean Glass Candy’s music was so much simpler, technically cruder, and yet infinitely more invested in emotion than the music I was working on at the time. The chasm between what I was trying to do and my doing it suddenly felt impossible to breach. I could tell we were coming from a similar place, chasing a similar idea, but Johnny Jewel had found it, and done it better. It was heartbreaking and I wanted to die.
In 2006 they played at the Cherry Bar in San Francisco for about 23 people. Johnny played an SG and Ida ran her vocals through a delay pedal, so that every word was heavily processed and lasted an eternity. Which was just the simplest yet coolest, sexiest effect I’d ever heard on a human voice. The band was in a transitional phase: Ida was still shouting half the time, screeching even, and half the songs were art damaged noise punk. But the newer material, the dancey stuff, was so exciting, and clearly what they “should” be doing more of, it seemed clear even to the band. I bought a T-shirt from Ida and tried to talk to her but it seemed like she was from, and possibly still residing on, Mars. But I was in love with them. I’d fallen in love with a band.
A few months later I sent Johnny Jewel a CD with my first songs on it, and he wrote back to me (on Myspace!) that he dug it. I was flattered and we started a correspondence about my doing a remix for them. I started working on it and quickly realized there’s nothing harder to remix than a song you already adore. When they came back to San Francisco in 2007, I handed him on a CD with some sketches of ideas. For the next five months I’d work on these some more, we’d meet after Glass Candy shows in LA and NYC and talk, and I’d get back to work, often discarding what I’d begun and starting again. By the time I was done in early 2008 I made nearly a half dozen versions of a remix. I originally intended to release all of them (hence my official remix being called “Part II and III”, Star Wars-ically) but ultimately decided the one I’d finished was the best and have never released the other parts.
For the final version of “I Always Say Yes (Baron von Luxxury Remix Odyssey Parts II & III)” I’d taken Ida No’s vocals and built a totally new song underneath her acapella. When I was working on my new album “The Last Seduction” (Manimal Vinyl) I kept listening to an Ida-less version of my remix and started to build a new lyric and melody on top. The lyrics came very quickly and insisted on being about Glass Candy, as if the band were still inhabiting the music.
So thats the story of the long road this song took to be written. But deeper than all of the details is the emotional connection I have to the band which the song somewhat concretizes.
A tragedy of creation is that we want to make things as beautiful as that which has inspired us. But its not possible. As proud of my album as I am, I can never love any music I make myself as much as I love the songs that led me to make it. But I will never stop trying, and failing, to come close to matching the feeling that Glass Candy’s music (and ELO’s, and Giorgio Moroder’s, and…) makes me feel. So by remixing this band that I hold in such high regard, and then reappropriating the music for myself, I have gotten as close as I possibly can to unabashedly stealing some of their magic, short of literally sampling them (which, lets face it, probably would have been faster).
But this is the best I can do, Johnny and Ida. Your aesthetic beauty is impossible and unreachable and I need to let you go. So my song is both a love and a Dear John(ny) letter. Please understand that its better for us to be apart. Let us leave as friends, and leave each other in peace. It’s not you, it’s me.
Goodbye, Glass Candy. Goodbye.
P.S. I will continue to wear your T-shirts.