Near the end of 2016, IAN SWEET released the incredible album Shapeshifter, a release that confronted every anxiety and fear Jilian Medford ever experienced and condensed it into beautiful song form. Nearly two years later and Medford returns, releasing Crush Crusher, another wonderfully amazing record. In celebration of its release, we chatted with Medford about music, bugs, Coldplay, and more.
The Grey Estates: What drove your decision or what made you decide to return to a solo act for this one? How did you feel going from having that backing on the last record to being the sole focus for this one?
IAN SWEET: Many things drove me to make the change. Mostly feeling uncomfortable with the band dynamic at the time and wanting to make sure to take care of myself in that situation. I was feeling like my voice wasn’t being heard even though I had started the band. I was getting trampled on and starting to not trust myself as much, I wanted to return to a healthier, more confident and creative place. It has been a big change and adjustment to be honest, I have never worked harder in my life and it feels exhausting but incredible. I really only have myself on my side fully this time and it’s a huge growing experience. I am really enjoying the process.
In what ways does this album differ from your last? And was there anything you learned or gained from Shapeshifter that you wanted to explore with this record?
This album is facing things much more head on rather than placing a vail over anything to make it less of a burden for myself or the listener. I wanted to be more blunt with this record. Shapeshifter was a deeply personal record as well I just don't think I was fully ready with that record to confront things in a mature way that I maybe am more so now.
Is it ever difficult to put so much of yourself into something that's both rewarding but anxiety-inducing? How do you balance that? Especially in periods where you're on the road.
Playing and traveling really helps me with my anxiety, it is mostly when I’m sitting at home, not playing, that I have my most anxious moments. So being on tour helps me find a calming source. But when I do find myself in stressful situations on the road I try to take space, drink water and remind myself of how special the experience of playing music for people is.
Why was it important for you to explore self-image and self-respect/worth on this record? How does it feel to explore such personal subjects with such a potentially large audience?
We are all constantly struggling with self image, especially in this internet age. I find myself waking up first thing in the morning, staring at my phone and feeling like shit the rest of the day because of it. I am definitely guilty of comparing myself to other people. With this record I wanted to explore ways to help myself get out of those unhealthy habits and try to provide myself with healthier ways of approaching self image.
Do you still connect with what you wrote on Shapeshifter? Have you changed as a person from now until then? Who is IAN Sweet now?
I definitely still connect with shapeshifter. I have grown up and out of some of the “phases” I was having during that time though. I have moved around a bunch since writing that record, experienced many new people and places and found myself developing my taste. I am still the same person, I just thinking I’m stronger and less passive. Shapeshifter and the whole process of touring shapeshifter taught me how to be stronger.
What's one of your favorite songs on this record or what song do you personally connect with a lot?
One of my faves is UGLY/BORED. Because sometimes I am ugly and bored and sometimes I am incredible beautiful and interesting. I just wanted to put that feeling into the universe.
If you had a "Bug Museum" what bugs would you put in it?
Definitely an emerald swallowtail! The most beautiful butterfly in the world ! Maybe some Jewel Beetle!
Which song did Coldplay inspire? Was it Question It?
Haha! I wasn’t listening to much Coldplay while making this rec but I guess they are always in my mind subconsciously
Can we talk about the title track? Tell me everything about how you came up with that? It's so different from anything I've heard before from you. It's like Bjork meets space and magic. What's it about? What inspired you? Should I listen to it forever?
The song crush crusher is about having something optimistic on the horizon (like a crush for instance) but not letting myself get too deep into it and instead destroying or crushing it before anything bad can happen. Like a protection plan
Who was the first person you ever had a crush on? I think mine was a kid named Luke. He had blonde hair and sat by me at lunch. He added me on Facebook recently and is super conservative. We aren't friends anymore.
The first person I had a crush on was all 3 Hanson brothers