Ida No spent more than 20 years as the frontwoman of Glass Candy, that influential noise-then-disco duo that ushered in a new wave of colorful musical expression before disappearing into the stardust from whence they came. Even so, No hasn’t been idle. For nearly two years, she and husband Nat Walker (formerly of Glass Candy labelmates Chromatics, Desire, and Symmetry) have been releasing engaging numbers as the more guitar-forward Fawn, a project that’s brimful of elements of shoegaze, psychedelia, trip-hop, and even a sprinkle of trap, with some utterly danceable components tossed in for good measure. Some singles, such as “Graffiti in the Hall” and “Anemone Tattoo” have shown a side to No that is often dreamier, more contemplative, and certainly more 1990s-minding than what we experienced from her previous work. (Even “Mansions,” which recalls New Order, eschews that Factory staple’s most 80s-centric tendencies.)
Today, No and Walker celebrate the release of debut album Flamboyant NonViolent, an independent release of 14 transcendent songs they cooked up in their home in the Los Angeles area. The album finds No still bringing her recognizable vox to the mix, but she also plays some sick electric bass and guitar all over the collection. Walker, ever the multifaceted musician, brings synths and drum programming to the table. (Walker’s brother, Chromatics founder Adam Miller, also contributes bass to the record, specifically on “Tattoo.”) Furthermore, the record contains a compelling cover of emo rap/trap artist Wicca Phase Springs Eternal’s “Secret Boy,” which was the first song No and Walker worked on together for Fawn. Overall, fans of the singles that have been trickling out for a couple years are going to be very pleased with the album.
With the album’s release now here, and gazing back on those teasers on her Instagram stories; the first single, “Graffiti in the Hall” in February 2022; and the following singles; I wondered how No felt about coming off a long hiatus and finally getting some new music out there. Notably, new music that was emphatically not Vehlinggo favorite Glass Candy.
“It feels magical, like getting a whole new, second life,” she told Vehlinggo in an email exchange last week. “Some of the songs on the album… I had already been working on for years. So I’m excited that those songs get to live after all.”
No emphasized that there isn’t some massive wall between her past and present projects.
“Me and my inner world are still the same as they’ve always been, so in that way there’s not much difference to me between Fawn, Glass Candy, or any future iterations,” she said. “As an artist I just do what I do and am not really affected by the exterior world — unless it’s literally not allowing for the organic process that exists as me, in which case either the exterior will be augmented or I will die.”
In our exchange, we also discussed the husband-wife duo’s creative philosophy surrounding the Fawn project, the challenges and high-points involved in making Flamboyant NonViolent, the intersection of No’s spirituality and her musical expression, and her feelings about the reactions to her new work, among some other things. (Editor’s Note: It’s been edited and condensed for clarity and house style.)
‘The Shiny, Untarnished Utopian Child of Our New World’
Vehlinggo: How did the Fawn project come about?
Ida No: We already had been working together for many years in different creative capacities — making videos, shooting photos, and creating song demos that hadn’t been released. Life got shifted around quite a bit in 2020-21, and after all the dust settled we realized we wanted to clear a path to let this project happen. We initially talked about a specific sound, mostly inspired by the warmth and fuzziness of shoegaze, but we also wanted to grant each other plenty of space for exploration.
A lot of emphasis is put on keeping a positive atmosphere. That is important above all else: cultivating a mutual respect and encouraging self-respect in each other, remembering that this is music and music is meant to be fun. It’s been a really special time.
There’s nothing like being in a band or being in a romantic relationship to trigger whatever is lurking in the unconscious depths. It’s real-life magic to catch your shadow in the act before it destroys what could be a perfectly beautiful moment. I love the Carl Jung quote, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate.” We’re determined to not let our unconsciousnesses destroy our band or our marriage. Our life together and our music project together is something that we both express infinite gratitude for everyday.
This record is quite different from your previous works (even if your fingerprints are everywhere). What are some key themes/goals for this album? And how did you approach them? (In other words, what did you want to do with this record from the outset and how did you achieve it?)
Well, after having spent what for me was over 20 years and for Natty over 15 years in our former projects, I think part of the goal was to just move on from the past, flop ourselves on the ground, and try to be as organic and “in the moment” as possible. I think about some of the post-apocalyptic scenes from the endings of movies such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Who’s Tommy, where the old paradigm has collapsed and there’s a rebirth. It’s fresh, exciting, and disorienting, all at the same time. It’s a very naked feeling.
I guess you could say Flamboyant NonViolent is the shiny, untarnished Utopian child of our new world. It’s flamboyant because it’s thrilled to experience the rapture of being alive and it’s nonviolent because it’s not corrupted by self-judgment. It accepts itself with all its imperfections and just celebrates the miracle of existing. This was achieved by the two of us embracing our imperfections and embracing this brief flash that is nothing short of the fucking miracle that is our souls having an adventure on the material plane.
What experiences did you draw from, if any?
The song lyrics are the end products of processing life. The fact that life can be turned into poetry makes all the mess and confusion worth it.
What was the most challenging thing about making this album?
For me it was getting my guitar- and bass-playing skills to an adequate level, although I‘m still a total rookie and I feel my skills are pretty rudimentary. I definitely have come a long way in the last few years, so I do feel really good about that. I also have that much more respect for anyone who plays a musical instrument. People with crazy skills make it look easy. I think about James Jamerson playing bass with only the index finger on his right hand and that just blows my mind. (He’s my favorite bass player). [Editor’s Note: Jamerson played bass on many classic Motown releases in the 1960s.]
What was the most rewarding and/or enjoyable aspect of the process?
The most rewarding aspect of making the album and what made it a 100-percent enjoyable process was knowing that there is nothing external that we hope to gain from it. There is nothing mentally or emotionally that we need from it other than just the act of doing it. The fact that there are some people out there who enjoy the songs is more than enough encouragement. As much as we cherish the fact that those people are here for us, we’d be making the exact same album regardless if anyone else ever heard it. Music is an extension of my spirituality. It helps me transcend whatever troubles I may have going on and helps me remember that magic is absolutely everywhere.
What do you think of/how do you feel about the response from fans to the new music? Additionally, after this album, what’s next for Fawn? Any plans to perform live, even just in Los Angeles?
I feel so blessed that there is anyone there at all to receive our music. Everyone has been so kind and supportive and it just really touches both of us. As an artist, it’s a gift if there is even one person out there in the world who appreciates or is entertained in the slightest by your creativity. Getting to have our lovely supporters means everything to us.
After this album we will continue to be active with more music, more videos, and more surprises. Playing live might not be in the cards for Fawn at this time but that could change.
Flamboyant NonViolent is out now digitally on your favorite streamers and also on Bandcamp.