By Karina Espinosa
VANCOUVER – It’s Jilian Medford’s one day off during a chaotic workweek and she’s using her leisure time to turn inward. When she isn’t touring endlessly or composing gutsy, distorted music as Ian Sweet, Medford finds comfort in the mundane pleasures of domesticity. “I ran out of underwear two days ago, so I’m doing some laundry and drinking iced coffee,” she laughs.
It’s a much-needed moment of calm for the LA-based indie rocker. After the release of Ian Sweet’s debut album, Shapeshifter, conflict within the band and in Medford’s personal life steered Ian Sweet in a different direction. This led the frontwoman to pen Crush Crusher, the band’s upcoming sophomore record.
Due out October 26 via Hardly Art, Crush Crusher is all fuzzy guitar chords laced with Medford’s signature, effervescent voice. Many of the core anxieties that permeated Shapeshifter are still present in this follow up work, but the main difference is that Medford is more willing to take an unflinching look at the intrusive thoughts that occupy her mind.
“It’s a lot about growth and the exploration of mental health and how to deal with it in a more productive way. I think the last album involved a lot of sugar coating and metaphors instead of tackling things head-on, and this record is a bit more blunt,” she begins. “And I think I needed that for myself—I needed to be more straightforward so that I could evaluate things as they really were.”
Ian Sweet originated as a solo effort while Medford was a student at Berklee College. After immersing herself in Boston’s DIY scene where she developed her flair for experimental reverbs, happenstance drove her to add two more members to her band’s roster and to relocate to Brooklyn. But Medford has since returned to her native Los Angeles and is happy to say that her band has also reverted to its roots: with this forthcoming album, Ian Sweet is a solo project again.
“I am way more in control over every aspect. There’s no part of me that feels like I’m being swept under the rug. I can just be my own best friend and listen to myself only,” she says. “It led me to be the most confident and the most insecure at the same time, and I think those two go hand-in-hand.” It’s a vulnerable position to be in, but Medford asserts that calling the shots only improved her artistic process. “I really had to trust myself, which helped me to grow the fuck up,” she admits.
As the album title suggests, Crush Crusher is about the emotional wrestling that one endures in times of self-doubt. According to Medford, many of the songs are about nagging premonitions she had which then led to self-sabotaging behaviour: “It has to do with a general feeling of excitement over the possibility of something. There have been a lot of times where I felt the potential of a situation, but I never let myself get there emotionally.”
It’s been an arduous journey, but the songwriter feels she’s moved past the point of uncertainty and is at peace with the work she’s created. Now that she’s arrived at the right headspace, Medford is eager to take her new songs on the road: “I do feel like my most genuine self when I’m singing and playing guitar on stage. I’m very much an adrenaline-based performer, and I feed off of other people’s energy easily—playing live lets me do that in the best way possible. It feels like the healthiest thing for me to do.”
Catch Ian Sweet at the Biltmore Cabaret (Vancouver) on October 23.