By Brittany Lawler
First time Lollapalooza performer Lia Ices is breaking the mold when it comes to pop music. The singer-songwriter from New York has a unique vocal style, including melodies that provoke emotion and lyrics that linger long after the song is over.
Ices, who studied experimental theater at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London before putting her efforts towards songwriting. Ices worked to create originality with her latest album “Growning Unknown.” The highly trained technical performer has abandoned traditional methods in pursuit of a free-flowing fusion of experimental pop music, which according to Ices, “uses her voice as a tool for emotion.”
“Mostly it’s been pretty solitary, especially with the last album, but now it’s a pretty collaborative phase. Definitely it’s moving way more towards collaborating with my band. My brother plays guitar in the band and we wrote the song “Daphane” together.”
Ices’ expressively driven and experimental music is both avant-garde and timeless. The evolution of her music began with a college theatre course, which introduced her to a new way of performing. The exploratory theatre class provided an environment that “really promoted making your own work instead of having technique forced upon you,” said Ices.
Ices is a performer that pulls inspiration from her surroundings and evokes the listener’s emotion through her spirited lyrical choices.
“I’m inspired by tons of things, in reference to “Growing Unknown” my last album; I’m realizing that nature and the processes that happen in nature tend to be huge inspirations for me that reflect into the personal. This is a major poetic theme that keeps pulling music out of me,” said Ices. “And then, of course the human voice in general is something that I find huge inspiration in—like discovering myself and my poetry, and the kindof music I want to create through the different sounds my voice can make.”
By recognizing that each song has it’s own life and energy, which demands different qualities from the arrangements and her voice, Ices can utilize her creativity and tone to produce her specific sound. “I didn’t have the confidence or format to let it breath. That’s kindof when I started to write music. I started putting the pieces together, I play piano, I perform, I write and then I let it all gel together,” said Ices.
Her voice has a haunting, hypnotic character that is both picturesque and yet, somewhat melancholy all at the same time. Her music strings together as if telling a vivid story. Many of her songs combine lost love, mythological figures and nature metaphors. According to Ices, “I think I realized that there’s a difference between writing songs—writing a song is one thing, but it’s an entirely different thing figuring out what you want that song to sound like.”
Ices’ album is a combination of songs linked together, producing a give and take relationship. “Growing Unknown,” is an album that is surprisingly tender and empathetic. The most inspiring aspect of Ices’ music is how she intuitively balances her most intimate confessions within her songs, as if she is speaking to the masses.
Lollapalooza is the first big festival Ices will play and it is in full swing. With 90,000 people filling Grant Park, Ices will be performing with some of the most talented performers and bands in the industry.
“The band is really dynamic and a live [during a live performance]—it becomes a way more fleshed out version to the album. It gives it new life and energy by extroverting everything,” said Ices. “Playing the same songs with the same people—the deeper the collaboration goes, which totally translates in the music,” said Ices.
Many of the songs on “Growing Unknown,” evolved over time and continue to organically change without warning.
“On the album we had a quintet, five string players, for the song “Ice Wine.” But live, we couldn’t really have that, so the band had to adapt. But it gives it [the song] a new life. It makes it more dynamic. It’s cool to see how a song can change for a live show,” said Ices.
Following Lollapalooza, Ices will be going on a small tour back through Toronto and Hudson, NY. Before performing at the Green Man Festival in Wales, along with couple of stops throughout the UK.
“All I can do is be the best version of my music and hope people can connect to it.”