If the name Kurt Feldman rings a bell, there’s a good reason for that. He’s been an integral part of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart for years and was one of the creative minds behind The Depreciation Guild. While his new project, Ice Choir, bears closer resemblance to the latter, the similarities end at synth-based electro. Ice Choir blends 80s new wave, a touch of twee and tons of swirling synths to make a debut that dazzles the mind. Ahead of Afar being released this Tuesday, we caught up with Feldman to discuss his past, present and future…
Violent Success: How did you creatively approach Ice Choir? Was it a natural evolution from what you did with The Depreciation Guild, or does it feel like entirely new territory?
Ice Choir: It was a pretty natural evolution. At the tail end of Depreciation Guild, I started writing songs that didn’t have any of the NES programming that was featured in all of our other works. As a result, I realized that it didn’t really sound like Depreciation Guild anymore. So, rather than forcing these new ideas on the same listeners, I started over with a new project. It made sense because we were all losing focus and interest in Depreciation Guild anyway and everyone else was looking to do their own thing.
VS: How long has Afar been in the making?
Ice Choir: I wrote this album between October 2010 and May 2011. Between May 2011 and January it was assembled in my studio and then mixed by Jorge Elbrecht.
VS: In addition to Ice Choir, you’re also part of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Are you part of any other projects and how do you divide your time between everything you’re doing?
Ice Choir: Besides those two bands, I’ve been focusing mainly on producing/mixing some projects for other people and writing some music for videogames.
VS: What kind of a practice environment do you have? Do you tend to shut out the outside world or are there people who you trust that you like to get opinions from?
Ice Choir: We don’t practice very often and when we do, we do it in my apartment (where Patrick and I both live) at low volume. I shut out most people but there are some close friends and musicians (my bandmates, for example) that I trust for opinions about my music or ideas I might have.
VS: When you’re writing lyrics, do they tend to be more personal or conceptual?
Ice Choir: It really depends on the song. Most of them are pretty high-concept but sometimes those concepts are rooted in reality and then embellished for dramatic effect.
VS: Have you ever had the urge to change the way your music sounds?
Ice Choir: For Ice Choir, not yet.
VS: Who would you want to sit in the studio with, even if it was just for one song?
Ice Choir: I’ve always admired Nat Raab of San Serac as a songwriter and producer. I’d love to see how he works out his ideas and records everything. I think I could learn a lot from him.
VS: Which musician(s) did you grow up idolizing?
Ice Choir: The first person I ever idolized was Kurt Cobain when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. Then shortly after that it was Billy Corgan… throughout my teens I fixated on lots of different bands within the general sphere of “American indie rock” and then in high school, started branching out more into British, Japanese, and synthesizer-based music. Eventually though, I grew out of idolizing specific musicians and began to simply respect different ones for their individual contributions to my musical upbringing. Nowadays I find myself latching on to certain producers rather than musicians. I love going through the catalog of artists a specific producer has worked with the goal of finding a narrative thread; the elements of style that are constant throughout their releases.
VS: Finally, when writing an album, who or what do you typically find yourself thinking of most?
Ice Choir: All of the things that inspire me to make the song I’m working on and the ways in which I can deviate from them to make them my own.