Alice Glass Takes Control of the Narrative

Photographs by Nick Sethi
Originally Published: 

Alice Glass wears a Vivienne Westwood jacket and top; her own jewelry.
Alice Glass wears a Vivienne Westwood jacket and top; her own jewelry.

With the release of her debut solo album, Prey//IV, earlier this year, Alice Glass definitively took control of her own narrative. Lyrically, the 13-track album details the domestic abuse she suffered privately while in the band Crystal Castles. It’s difficult subject matter that Glass is glad to be done with, but she also hopes it helps her fans to avoid similar situations. Sonically, the record pushes pop to its extremes, with elements that recall everything from Britney Spears to industrial music.

While Glass has been an icon for over a decade now (Jessica Chastain famously based the look of her character in the 2013 film Mama on Glass), she now feels like she can truly connect with fans, and she’s gained new ones. She’s also found collaborators among a new generation of underground pop musicians, including Pablo Vittar, Alice Longyu Gao, and Dorian Electra—and she teases that she has more exciting collaborations on the way.

Prey//IV deals with the abuse you endured from your bandmate in Crystal Castles, the group you cofounded in 2006. You first addressed that in a statement you put out in 2015, but this is the first time you’ve channeled your experiences into art. How does it feel to have that finally out in the world?

It’s good, because I’ve been working on it for so long. I put a lot of pressure on myself to have the whole record be a piece of art. Now that it’s out, I can just move on.

The visuals for this album are like dark little fairy tales sprinkled with stylistic gore. What inspired you, and what were you trying to achieve with the music videos for singles like “Love Is Violence” and “Suffer and Swallow”?

The whole point of the record is to make the listener uncomfortable, to have the experience be confrontational. I wanted the art to be in that realm as well. Metal has always been associated with horror movies. I suppose I always connected to those worlds a little bit more. For all the videos and the record cover, I worked with Astra Zero and Lucas David—they mostly do gay porn, but it’s totally high art. With Prey//IV, it was about taking childlike things and repurposing them. We’d use sounds that were almost like a xylophone toy, but with the darkest lyrics possible.

Your producer Jupiter Keyes was in the band Health, and you’ve collaborated with artists in the hyperpop movement like Alice Longyu Gao and Dorian Electra. How has it felt to see that underground-meets-pop movement emerge?

My friend Lulo hosts this club night in L.A. called Heav3n, and all the new club kids go there—so many beautiful, interesting people. I’ve been going there for a while, and that’s where I’ve met a lot of people in the hyperpop community. I like to work with friends, and it’s been a really positive, supportive environment.

Do you have a favorite pop star?

Pablo Vittar, who’s the ultimate international pop star—with the talent, the beauty, all of that.

You’re known for your energetic live performances.

I love being onstage. I grew up in the punk scene in Toronto, which is very small and male-dominated. I felt like I could do a better job. I would be onstage, and I knew that there wasn’t going to necessarily be a lot of support from the men in that scene. That kind of confrontation made it more fun. It started as a competitive “fuck you” to the punk rock guys in Toronto at first.

You seem to have a more direct relationship with your fans now. Has that been freeing for you?

Yeah. It’s weird, because I didn’t have social media before. But I feel like there’s a responsibility to connect. A lot of my fans are younger than me. I would really hope that through my personal stories and lyrics, they could avoid situations like the one I was in. I’ve read a lot of DMs from women and men who’ve been in similar circumstances, asking for advice. I have the best fan base ever. Real empaths.

Marc Jacobs top, skirt, and glove with attached stole; her own jewelry.

Has that been part of what’s kept you going?

At the beginning, I felt the opposite. A lot of people were upset with me after I released my statement. There was a point at which I was getting a lot of harassing messages.

Now you get to tell the next chapter of your story. Are there things you want to do? Are there new areas you want to explore?

I would like to continue to develop my songwriting and learn more instruments. I wish I was this organized, in-control person who has a distinct plan. A lot of what keeps me going is that I don’t have anything else. I’m a high school dropout. I don’t know what else I would do.

Hair by Dylan Chavles at MA+ Group; makeup by Grace Ahn at Julian Watson Agency. Set design by Lauren Machen at Lalaland Artists.

Photo assistants: Jorge Solorzano, Nick Tooman, Chris Whitaker; retouching: D-Touch; fashion assistant: Antonio Soto; hair assistant: Alison DeMoss; makeup assistant: Christina Roberson; set assistant: Kevin Carniero; tailor: Irina Tshartaryan; production assistant: Asher Gardner; special thanks: the Revery LA.

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