Dancing her fingers across the piano, Lia Ices had our absolute attention from her first whisper of an album. Reported as having a “poetic gift for language” in New York’s Time Out magazine, this Brooklyn-based experimental-pop-stress, who shares her name with an ice cream spot, is set to release a new album. Recently signed to Jagjaguwar, her sophomore release Grown Unknown is already a 2011 must. Speaking to us halfway through a run of New York shows, Lia narrates her movements from small-town, paper pianist to sharing stages with Iron and Wine.
Born in Westport, on Connecticut’s Long Island Sound, Lia’s youth was scored by Elvis Costello, Gregory Hines, and the Beatles’ entire back catalogue, not to mention her own musical contributions when she began taking piano lessons at the age of five.
“My parents didn’t want me to get a piano; it’s a pretty serious piece of furniture. They made me a cardboard piano with black and white construction paper as keys. I would come home and practice on my paper piano. So this is where I started imagining music in my head.”
As one of pop’s best kept secrets she launched her debut album,Necima, in 2008 on Rare Book Room Records. Since its release Lia has surrounded herself with nature, becoming more aware of her relationship with landscapes and what this kindles musically.
“I lived in central Vermont after Necima was released. It was really important for me to get simple and elemental with my days; to let my mind wander in new surroundings, focusing my time solely on writing music, reading, walking around in the snow, and tending to the fire.”
Necima generated three cinematic music videos including one for haunting ballad You Will, which depicts Lia in all that calm, natural beauty nesting in a snowy Vermont. “All the videos from my first album were collaborations with people close to me. I grew up with Simone Montemurno who directed the video for Half Life, and Ruby Macdougall, who did all the choreography, has been my best friend since I was 16 years old.” There’s no doubting Lia keeps her friends close – her band consists of brother Eliot (guitar), and friends Otto Hauser (drums), and Greg Chudzik (bass) who make up the lingering sounds minus the piano and hand-claps.
After collaborating this year with Iron and Wine, at NYC’s Abrons Arts Centre, Lia joined indie-imprint Jagjaguwar, (home to Bon Iver, Black Mountain, and Ladyhawke). “They trust the integrity and purpose of their artists, and I’m aware of how rare this is,” said Lia. “I’ve always admired how they curate their labels, so to sit amongst their roster is literally a privilege,”
The new album captures a more wholesome, emotional grace than her last offering with a transcendental approach sure to shake any listener. Lia has unknowingly developed that Bjork-ish nuance of applying operatic timbre to both words and rhythm creating a permeating record. “With my new songs, it’s more confident, untamed, and free. I spent a lot of time experimenting, getting ready to perform my new album.” Memo in your Moleskine: Grown Unknown is a well-timed and much-needed contribution to your collection… just don’t blame us when you’re feasting on blackberries and guzzling melted snow.