John Glacier

John Glacier


North America

John Glacier

John Glacier says she chose her stage name because she’s “icy”. But, like her pitch-shifted vocal and deadpan stare, that dissembling coldness is shattered by the blistering reality of her lyrics. (“Know that they don’t like me, like me,/ They just think I’m icy… Don’t see me as human,” she trills on the magnetic, glimmering song “Icing”.) Everything she writes, in her punk-poet electronic songs, is viscerally vulnerable. Her upcoming debut project, produced with London-born, LA-based producer Vegyn, is what she calls a “selfish” record, documenting “how I feel, what I’m going through, and where I want to go in my life.” But like everything John touches, even this answer shapeshifts, revealing itself to be something unexpected by the time she’s finished speaking. “At the time, it could have been a different reason. Tomorrow, or five minutes later, my take on it could be completely different. Like, I have no idea.”

Growing up in Hackney, John didn’t think much about making music. John’s therapy, from a young age, was writing. Chronic illness forced her to drop many of her classes as a teenager. Her primary musical education was the reggae, dancehall, soca and R&B that would play in her family home. That, and her childhood pop loves, Anastasia and Britney Spears.

“I don’t really like new music that much,” she shrugs. “There’s not much that really grabs my attention.” Rather than follow genre, she loves music for how it feels. When she started teaching herself to produce, three years ago, her approach was similarly agnostic to trends. “In terms of making music, it’s definitely always mood-based. Like, how I feel in that moment.” 

“I just say it’s honest,” she reflects, when asked to describe her sound. “I make honest music.” Most of the time, she constructs tracks in one session, leaving them untouched like raw nerves. She rejects song structure. “I just write, and see where it takes me. And then I arrive.” Her Soundcloud is a rabbit hole of deeply felt emotion, reflecting that one-take, unfiltered mindset: she frequently uploads snippets of unpolished sound reflecting the headspace she’s in that day. On “Lucid Dream”, she pulls you right into the soft, heavy heart of a lullaby over flickering guitar; on the bristling “Mood now”, she builds a luminescent cage of synth stabs. Between these hyper-emotional fragments sits a 15-minute Nina Simone mix, After Pain Must Come Peace.

In 2018, she released her most flooring track yet: “Fool Like Me” is a piano-driven sound piece that contrasts multiple sides of John, who leaps around the track from her low register to high, and dovetailing a joyful voice note with her mournful singing voice. It was the gut-punch collage of “Fool Like Me” that caught the attention of Vegyn when he came across it online – only for him to realise that he and John already knew each other. For years, they’d been bumping into each other at the backs of parties. “We never used to like the parties,” John remembers. “That’s what we used to mainly talk about.”

Once he made the connection, Vegyn was eager to work with John. “From the jump, it was very clear John had a lot of things she needed to express,” he says. “We initially started in 2019, by just sharing my studio space – she would come in and do the ‘night shift’. After a while, we started to pass things back and forth, and eventually that ended up in a full record.”

That record, *Shiloh, is a document of healing and evolution that John created over the course of a year. Each track is a reflection of a moment, captured fleetingly, showcasing a different face of John Glacier. On “Icing”, she sings a pitch-shifted playground chant about people who don’t like her, or don’t see her full humanity, and revels in not caring. “I don’t have too many songs like that, that are quite cocky,” she smiles. “My other songs are quite inwards, and about me solely – ‘Icing’ is about me, but that’s me in a different light. It’s like two people.” Meanwhile, “Hold on a second there” is a slower, insular song, John’s small voice engulfed by cold synth chords as she sings lyrics about finding her inner child.

Through her tender, strange compositions, John has been piecing herself back together, and the upcoming project is a montage of the highs and lows of that journey. “The songs are all completely different spaces,” she notes, but the common theme of the album is reflection, and processing – like chipping away at ice. In the uncertainty of 2020, “I feel like I’ve reconnected with myself this year. If I don’t feel anything, I just write something to figure out how I’m feeling.”

Press Links

Pitchfork – John Glacier Signs to Young, Announces EP, and Shares Video for New Song

The Line Of Best Fit – John Glacier announces new EP, Like A Ribbon, with Eartheater collaboration

Clash Music – John Glacier Links With Eartheater On ‘Money Shows’

The Guardian – interview

Crack Magazine – John Glacier shares new track, Money Shows, featuring Eartheater