From the moment she took the stage as the frontwoman for Crystal Castles, it was pretty evident Alice Glass had the kind of enviable stage presence that takes ages for many a performer to perfect. Although she never quite looked comfortable on stage, it was hard to take your eyes off Glass as she went from softly whispering to belting out lyrics over a synth-pop beat while thrashing around.
"It's more of an emotional bond between me and the crowd now," Alice Glass tells New Times over email ahead of her appearance at III Points. "I want to connect with other empathy's like me, see their faces, and share a moment where we can feel like we're in this together."
Born Margaret Osborn, Glass is not the kind of performer who shouts, "How ya feeling, [insert city here]?" It's an engaging and physical ceremony where the bond between Glass, her band, and her fans is unwavering.
"It used to be more of a contact sport when I was a teenager in a band. It was more about showing up and local punk dudes who would think they were a better front person than me just by the default of being a man," she explains. "It evolved into my own future punk front-person identity, but sometimes the touching gets to be a lot, and you would've been strangled by T-shirts and getting lost in the crowd. A scary place then, but my fans now are so respectful."
Glass has plenty to tell the audience. Her debut solo album, Prey//IV, is her bravest, most heart-wrenching work yet.
Prior to her departure in 2014, Glass was half of the glitchy electronic duo Crystal Castles. The pair felt like a modern-day answer to early-'90s grunge, complete with melancholic lyrics and distorted synth chords. The songs were angry and felt like a natural response of a generation that faced an economic meltdown, forever wars, and the advent of social media.
"I remember playing [Ultra Music Festival in Miami] as the only screamy lady on a microphone, and it went sort of weird," Glass recalls. The original lineup of Crystal Castle performed several times in Miami, including at Mansion nightclub in 2007; at Ultra in 2009, 2011, and 2013; and at Grand Central in 2010. She and her bandmate, Ethan Kath, released three critically acclaimed albums, the self-titled debut, Crystal Castles II, and III.
released a statement that explained why she left. She accused her collaborator, Kath, of grooming and sexual assault, stating that "over a period of many months, he gave me drugs and alcohol and had sex with me in an abandoned room at an apartment he managed. It wasn't always consensual."
(Kath later sued Glass for defamation, and the case was later dismissed. He was never formally charged, although the Daily Beast reported more allegations of sexual assault and grooming.)
But as one YouTube commenter puts it, "I can't help hear the suffering of Alice in every Crystal Castles song." While many fans have praised and thanked the band for changing their lives, listening back to Crystal Castles' music today feels stained by the abuse.
"I know that I have influenced the culture, and I know that I wasn't done contributing, and I'm still not," Glass says when asked why she continued to make music following her statement. "I love writing music and melodies, and I love performing shows. And it's also a 'fuck you' to a lot of creepy people who would be thrilled if I gave up."
"I used it as inspiration. It's a feeling of lack of justice, and I'm trying to explain why — but anger can overtake you, and it can be a really fine line of seeking injustice and not having people take you seriously," she says of the album.
The album's cover features a portrait of Glass, which echoes the artwork for Crystal Castles' single "Alice Practice" — something the Glass has said is not a coincidence. One half of her face is blemish-free — not even a freckle — the other shows her milky eye and bloody fault lines across her face.
The thirteen tracks, written by Glass and her producer Jupiter Keyes, formerly of the band Health, sees Glass' blood-curdling spasms contrasted by her solemn voice that cools the heart. The opener, "Prey," features a trance-like bassline against howling synths.
"It feels like [the album] will never be done. To be honest, I think there's almost an overemphasis on perfection and trying to have a full record as a statement, and that's not really the climate anymore. I like writing music fast, so I want to really release music fast moving forward, different pieces of time capsulated."
Prey//IV is riddled with pain, revenge, and redemption. "When you're suffering, I'll smile," she defiantly sings on "The Hunted." Meanwhile, on "Fair Game," she coos, "When you move, you look like a clown/You ruined everything...Where would you be without me?"
Glass' cadence filters between bellicose monologues and lulling whispers throughout the record.
"I'm a pretty emotional person, I guess," she says. "My favorite music is all over the place. I love Carcass and Lesley Gore. I like the feeling of how catchy melancholy makes me feel connected, and I suppose it has inspired me."
With Prey//IV closing in on the second anniversary of its release, Glass is already working on several new projects.
"I have a couple of EPs in the works," she says. "I'm working with Kwes Darko in London, and there's no Auto-Tune, and I'm playing live instruments as complete riffs and not as ambiance. I have a lot of songs that I wrote with Jupiter Keyes over the years that still need to be heard — it's important to me."
While the themes of Glass' work paint her in a perpetual state of melancholy, she's still perhaps feeling more liberated than ever, even as obstacles keep getting in her way.
"After my statement, I was being sued by my abuser, which is becoming more of a thing, and then the pandemic. Timing is a bitch, but I'm alive, and I'm still here," Glass says, adding a note in her email to include maniacal laughter.
III Points 2023. Friday, October 20, and Saturday, October 21, at Mana Wynwood, 2217 NW Fifth Ave., Miami; iiipoints.com. Tickets cost $169 to $599 iiipoints.frontgatetickets.com.