Ice Cream. Photo by Shelby Fenlon

Ice Cream has your weird-pop needs covered

The Toronto duo is playing two POP Montreal shows this week.

When a website’s ABOUT section announces a band as “[having] created a vibrant sonic world where shuddering beats, catchy melodies and heavy rock-and-roll riffs lock perfectly into lyrics about the pressures of living under late capitalism and the male gaze,” one tends to take notice.

Publicity copy isn’t usually that thoughtful and smart and direct. People largely aren’t thoughtful and smart and direct either.

Ice Cream’s Carlyn Bezic is all of these things and, as I found out last week, a whole lot more.

Dave Jaffer: Festivals are a great opportunity to see bands you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to see, and friends where you can’t always see their shows. Is that one of the best parts of coming to a festival? The opportunity to be a discoverer of music and an enjoyer of music as well as a player of music?

Carlyn Bezic: That would be kind of the appeal for me. But also it’s kind of a drag because the number one priority is making sure you have a good show, so that might mean having to not be in a loud bar and yelling, or avoiding drinking if you have to. 

DJ: I guess I’ve never thought about it that way. I’m not really concerned with preserving my voice.

CB: I’m kind of a wuss with that stuff. 

DJ: You say “wuss,” I say “someone who understands how to do their job properly.” 

CB: Well, that’s nice. 

DJ: I noticed on the POP Montreal artist page for your band it says “Pop, Pulsing, Cold, Gritty, Sensual.” It looks like someone just decided to describe every band or artist playing POP with a bunch of adjectives. If someone came up to you and said, “hey, you’re pop, pulsing, cold, gritty and sensual,” how would that feel? Do you feel like that’s pretty much it or like someone didn’t quite get it? And, does it matter what other people think your band is or sounds like?

CB: I would say that’s pretty close, but in some senses it doesn’t really matter what other people describe your band as. There’s the thing itself and the thing itself speaks for itself. One thing we always found kind of weird and it especially doesn’t apply to our new album [FED UP, out Nov. 15] is the idea that we’re post-punk. I’m not against it, and a lot of post-punk bands are a pretty huge influence for us, but I feel like that kind of misses the point of something we’re doing. It feels like a bit of a catch-all. It’s frustrating when you feel like the adjectives used for your band are a bit lazy.

DJ: Most of the people who write about this stuff, including myself, sometimes, are very lazy. People just want to classify things, but on a long enough timeline, everything just meshes into everything else. 

CB: Obviously there are a lot of artists working within a tradition, and it’s important to talk about how the thing they’re making is a conversation with that tradition. I think if our music is a conversation with any kind of tradition it’s pop music. When people who don’t know me are like, “Oh what does your band sound like?” I still find it impossible to answer. When I do answer, I say, “Weird pop, I guess.” 

DJ: “Shuddering beats, catchy melodies and heavy rock-and-roll riffs lock perfectly into lyrics about the pressures of living under late capitalism and the male gaze.” How do those things work together to enable a viewpoint? What is the general viewpoint or message that comes out of these fixations and understandings?

CB: This album that will be coming out in November is a generally angry record. I think we’re really frustrated, we’re angry, we’re expressing that feeling of being trapped that you have under late capitalism. And a lot of our songs are very much from a fem experience, and the experience of having ideas of femininity placed on top of you. But then also it’s a real mindfuck to be dealing with those ideas while being a performer and also feeling as if the music is sensual in a way and not wanting to be subject to that gaze but also playing within that gaze. Playing with that tension.

DJ: You’re almost making yourself a commodity to rail against the idea of yourself as a commodity. 

CB: I think there’s a lot more grey area and greyness in general that is expressed on the record, but as a whole, it’s about the bizarre nature of being a fem-coded person in North America at this particular time. ■

Ice Cream plays as part of POP Montreal with Debby Friday, Dregqueen and Bibi Club at Skatepark du Mile End (St-Laurent & Cloutier) on Friday, Sept. 27, 4 p.m., free

And with Fleece, Dish Pit and Chacal at l’Escogriffe on Friday, Sept. 27, 8:30 p.m, $12/$15