Ice Cream make a lot happen with a few basics: a variety of synths, sometimes a guitar, often a bass.
The Toronto duo’s four singles, released in advance of their upcoming debut album on Ben Cook’s Bad Actors Inc., offer trenchant melodies and minimalist beats. With an assured coolnesss, Ice Cream channel the sounds of post-punk and dollar-bin new wave staples while making their music completely singular. It could be the soundtrack to a strange party accessible only in dreams.
I spoke to Ice Cream’s members, Carlyn Bezic and Amanda Crist (also regular collaborators of U.S. Girls, Slim Twig, and members of Darlene Shrugg), about their favourite venue, plans for the future, and starting bands in high school.
You put out your first recordings in 2014. Since then, you’ve been on the radar of a lot of people. Do you have an album release planned?
Carlyn Bezic: We’re putting out a record on Bad Actors in April. It’s a small label, a subsidiary of Last Gang. Ben Cook from Fucked Up runs it. U.S. Girls put out some of their early stuff through them.
Was there a lot of thought put into deciding what label to put the album out on or did things just line up with Bad Actors?
Carlyn: Putting it out on Bad Actors made sense because Ben produced it. We would have put it out earlier but Amanda was on tour with U.S. Girls for a bit and then I was on tour with Slim Twig right after. It’s our first record together, and we’re really proud of it.
You’ve released four songs so far. Is there one that you feel is your biggest achievement?
Carlyn: The songs we’ve released so far were all written around the same time. I’ve been into all the videos for them. The album is the thing. These releases have just been parts of the thing.
Amanda: They’re appetizers.
Carlyn: For the main dish. [laughs] Print that.
Are there any particular venues in Toronto that you’re fans of or you feel have helped you as artists?
Carlyn: Double Double Land.
Carlyn: We’ve played there eight million times with a bunch of different bands. We’ve also filmed a bunch of videos there. It feels like a hub for the music community.
Amanda: It’s very artist-accessible. You can do whatever you want there, within reason. It’s a cool place.
Carlyn: Ice Cream does well in a white box.
Amanda: There used to be a bakery downstairs and they had huge commercial ovens that would be on all day. Then you would go to a show and it would smell amazing but it would be super hot.
Are there bands in Toronto that you feel have helped you or inspired you in the last few years?
Amanda: Meg (Remy) from U.S. Girls has helped us a great deal. They played our first show ever. Ben, who produced the record, he’s helped us a lot.
Amanda: I love Man Made Hill.
Does being around people who are excelling in their fields make you want to be better?
Amanda: I feel like I always have that feeling.
Carlyn: I’m that way with everything. You see someone doing something really cool and you go, “oh shit, I also want to do something cool”.
You both played in bands in high school. Did you play together?
Amanda: No, we didn’t.
Carlyn: Amanda’s band was too cool for me. They’re Toronto legends, still. My band was so not cool.
Amanda: My band was with my twin sister and one other girl. It was a friendship-based project.
Carlyn: You’re a pretty different person in a high school than you are when you’re 27. Amanda’s band was called Huckleberry Friends. My band was called Golden Ticket. Don’t ask why. I don’t remember. I would just rip it on guitar. That was the point of that band. I spent most of high school learning how to play Jimi Hendrix songs. That translated into that band. There were some memorable riffs.
Amanda: It makes a lot of sense that we’re playing together now, as opposed to back then.