Carlyn Bezic of Ice Cream Launches Solo Project As Jane Inc.

Photo Credit: Andrew McGill

Carlyn Bezic had a demo on her computer labeled Gem simply because she wrote the chord changes on a GEM keyboard. It had a disco vibe and Bezic, best known as one half of Canadian duo Ice Cream, is a fan of the genre anyhow, so she had a “vague idea” of what the song could be. Meanwhile, there was a lyric stuck in her head – “It’s coming on, baby, like sunlight through a gem.”

It all clicked. Bezic liked the image of light refracting through a gem. It reminded her of the how the self might translate through a camera. It was the camera, specifically, that she was thinking of when she sang “my friend, the lens” over a languid disco groove in “Gem,” the lead track off Number One, Bezic’s debut solo album, released March 19 via Telephone Explosion under the name Jane Inc. The camera, she says, can be “exciting and empowering.”

“Or,” she adds over a recent phone call from her home in Toronto, “it can be really scary and limiting and confusing and create this removal from what is real.” 

With “Gem,” she considered both sensations happening at the same time. Similarly, the thought of contradiction is in the music, where Bezic channels the vibe of “late night” disco, “when you’re at the after-hours and it’s not necessarily a good late night feeling,” she explains. But, at the same time, she says, “you also feel a sort of freedom.” 

Bezic uses tracks on Number One, like “Gem” and “Obliterated,” to dig into themes surrounding online life; she admits to be online a lot, although she isn’t necessarily posting. “I’m experimenting with trying to be on the internet more, which I think is not a good idea – but, anyway, I’m trying it,” Bezic says, describing her online habits as passive. “I’m just consuming, consuming, consuming. Consuming information. Consuming images.”

She continues, “I found that I can be completely overwhelmed by it and also feel like I’m losing some sort of sense of self just by this overload of information and overload of connection.” That leads to part of the freedom found in “Gem.” The song focuses on the person with the audience, as opposed to the audience, Bezic explains. 

Elsewhere on the album, Bezic considers the environment and climate change. “Dirt and Earth” is a reflection on a complicated mix of emotions, including anger and a desire to place the blame for climate change on a single person. “In reality, there’s many people and many events that have led us to this,” Bezic points out. At the same time, she’s wrestling with the notion of being complicit in the degradation of the planet, simply by living life. “I am creating garbage. I’m driving cars,” she says. “You’re a musician, you fly in planes.”

Meanwhile, “Bloom Becomes Me” is also about the environment, but the song’s muse is pottery that Bezic spotted in Mexico. She describes the pots as taking on the figure of a creature that was half-animal, half-human, and they were filled with flowers. “You have flowers and animals and humans all melding together,” she says. “There was something really moving about it to me, this attempt at having everything live inside you at once as it’s all dying.” 

Number One had been in the making for quite some time. Bezic tends to write on Ableton and had produced and mixed a set of songs on her own based around some samples, but didn’t feel they could work for Ice Cream. Despite that, she wanted to continue developing them; in the process, she built an album that was fairly complete. It was also one that she thought might be difficult for a label to handle on account of all the samples that would have needed to be cleared. “For practical reasons, I wanted to bring in a drummer to re-record the percussion,” she says. “Also, just for artistic reasons, it seems more exciting to have a bit more energy and reactivity in the drums.” 

About a year-and-a-half ago, Bezic went into the studio with Evan Cartwright (U.S. Girls), who played drums on the album. “Everything felt like entirely new songs,” she says. That led to mixing with Steve Chahley (Badge Epoque, U.S. Girls) and some additional work to add cohesiveness to the project. The mixing sessions were completed last year, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“I had started playing in the U.S. Girls live band,” says Bezic, “so I was preparing for what I thought would be a couple years of pretty extensive touring and the album was coming along, but it didn’t feel pressing for that reason.” With the onset of the pandemic, she saw an opportunity to finish mixing; not only had live gigs been put on hold, but social distancing guidelines meant that Bezic wouldn’t be able to write or practice in person with Ice Cream bandmate Amanda Crist. 

As Jane Inc., Bezic has been able to explore multiple themes while making music that draws from an eclectic mix of styles, from vibey disco, to the bouncy ’80s-style synth-pop on “Steel,” to the electronic ambience of “Mine/His.” Number One is s a stellar debut and Bezic is excited about the release – though she’s already thinking about what she’ll be making next. “I’m always writing songs,” she says.

Follow Jane Inc. on Instagram for ongoing updates.

How EDM Helped Me Heal from Anxiety

It’s June 2016 and I’m testing how low I can get before breaking down. I’ve worked until midnight and gotten up at four to churn out more writing assignments. Seeking comfort from the stress, I reach for the chips in my cupboard, eat more than I intended, panic, and make myself throw up. Unable to focus on an empty stomach, I do it all over again. I move my laptop to Starbucks and order iced cold brew after iced cold brew, telling myself to focus until I’ve finished my 18th article of the day. My stomach feels like negative space.

I write a resignation email for my most stressful job and fantasize about sending it, knowing I’ll never have the courage. I don’t need the money, but the thought of turning down work makes me recoil. I must be successful and success means more bylines and more money.

This is a pattern I’ve become all too familiar with. But at least this time, I have something to look forward to. After another four hours of sleep and 15 articles, I’m headed to Vegas for Electronic Daisy Carnival, an electronic music festival I’d never heard of until the press trip invitation arrived in my inbox.

To accommodate my crazy work hours, I fly in the night before and pull an all-nighter. I sign in for my shift at 3 a.m. from a casino cafe and churn out 7 articles until it ends at 11. Just when I think I’m done, my editor keeps me late to post an update on the Orlando alligator attack.

Meanwhile, a college friend’s blowing up my Facebook chat, begging me to join her in Ibiza in two weeks. I can’t because of this goddamn job. Getting time off is impossible.

Skrillex and Diplo’s “Where Are U Now” wakes me up from a three-second, sitting-up nap. Emboldened by the catchy riff punctuating Justin Bieber’s refrain and fantasies of Ibiza opening parties, I write another resignation email. This time, I type my supervisor’s email address in the “recipients” box.

I still can’t hit “send,” but getting close makes me feel wild. I pack up, put on a tiny $3 romper, and walk along Las Vegas strip. As I pass Serendipity and hum along to Calvin Harris’s “This Is What You Came for,” I visualize myself lounging by the fountain, eating over-priced, calorie-packed ice cream. That would be self-indulgent. Unproductive. Bad. Glorious. Free. How freeing it would be to be bad. I don’t dare enter, but the thought alone loosens my mental shackles.

Something has to change this weekend. Either life as I know it will be destroyed, or I will. Either the part of me that forbids eating ice cream and dropping work will die, or the part of me that wants it will. I secretly root for the former.

As I enter the Las Vegas Motor Speedway that night with a parade of EDM heads in wings, animal faces, and bathing suits, that little voice in me that wants to fuck work and go be an ice cream eating fairy kitten princess says, “Hey, there. I missed you.” I pass giant glowing flowers, foreboding owl statues, and a tiny schoolhouse where people are coloring. This is the closest thing adults have to Disney World.

My pace picks up. I don’t know where I’m running, only what I’m running from: everything outside this land over the rainbow the Nevada dust had dropped me in.

In a pavilion where Russian DJ Julia Govor is playing, I make timid, barely detectable movements, flashing back to middle school dances. Then, I see a dude doing a little catwalk in a floor-length fur coat and bull horns.

Oh, OK, so nobody gives a fuck. This is not middle school. This is not a networking event. Toto, we’re not in New York City anymore. No matter what I do, someone next to me will be crazier.

But nobody’s judging the crazy person either. I want to be the crazy person. The one people compare themselves to so they can shed their misdirected shame. I run from stage to stage doing exaggerated moves I learned in zumba class or ballet or wherever the hell I picked them up. I smile at everyone, not caring if they smile back, but they do.

A cute guy intercepts me to ask where the bathrooms are. I tell him I don’t know, and his glance lingers on me. “Can I kiss you?” he asks.

“Sure,” I shrug, because why not, and we make out amid the blending cacophony of DJ sets. He gives me his number and tells me to let him know if I come to LA.

I can’t believe this is actually a way to live, I think. This is a world where I don’t have to prove anything to be accepted. Where I don’t need a pretentious OKCupid profile to get a kiss. Where don’t need a job to feel good about myself. Where my only job is to have fun.

The next morning, I hit “send.” Three minutes later, my boss asks if she can change my schedule to keep me. Maybe, I think, but not if that rules out Ibiza. “I’ll come,” I Facebook chat my friend.

On the bus to the next day’s festival, I spot a woman with rainbow hair. I see something in her I want to bring out in myself, so I sit beside her and recount my spontaneous makeout sesh.

After flirting with a new guy in line, I see her again at Anna Lunoe’s show. Then, as the neon lights glow against the blackening sky, she gives me molly on a rooftop overlooking the ferris wheel.

On my way back to the stage, the guy from the line asks why I didn’t answer his text. I hug him and walk on, throwing off my shirt. I can do better.

I meet the LA guy by the bathrooms, and we make out again. After chugging his water bottle, I say with honesty I didn’t know was in me that I’d like to go off by myself again. Stupid boys. I’ll have more fun alone because I’m fun. I’m a fairy kitten princess, dammit.

I merge with a crowd jumping and shouting through JAUZ’s mix of System of a Down’s “BYOB.” This is the best moment of my year, I think, and then I think about how contrary that is to everything I believed. The thing that made me happiest was not when my income hit six figures or when I published 20 articles in a day or when I lost five pounds or even when Whoopi Goldberg discussed my writing on The View. It was when I was was doing something so incredibly unimpressive (unless screaming “why do they always send the poor?!” louder than anyone else is impressive). Maybe you don’t have to suffer for the best things in life.

The next day, I realize that in an attempt to film the festival, I accidentally recorded my trip. “The themes in my life,” I listen to myself telling my rainbow-haired friend, “are discipline and deprivation. Whether it’s food or work, it’s all the same.”

When I hear that, I know hanging onto that job would be just as destructive as hanging onto my disordered eating. As Anna Lunoe and Chris Lake’s “Stomper” fills my hotel room, I tell my boss that if she wants me to stay, she has to pay me more. As I anticipated, she can’t.

I panic with the urge to go work on other jobs to make up for that one’s loss. Instead, I return to Serendipity, get an ice cream sundae, and don’t throw it up or keep eating after I’m full. I chuck the half-empty cup in the trash and call up a guy I’ve been crushing on as I walk along the strip. Then, I stop inside Sephora and buy makeup, something I’d always considered too indulgent. On the way, a guy sees my arm band, says “EDC fam!”, and hugs me like we’re long-lost relatives.

Over the next two weeks, I jog around my neighborhood listening to Elliphant’s “Not Ready”:

“I guess I’m not ready for reality / A young woman in a new world / I have a big responsibility / to live life wild and free like a bird / Now is the time to be dancing.”

My first night in Ibiza, as Chris Liebing fills the Amnesia opening party, I ask a German guy I would’ve deemed too hot for me before if I can bite him. We fall in love in just two days, and I leave in tears. But on the plane home, I realize New York and I are over anyway. I’m going to travel the world like I’ve always told myself I couldn’t, and Germany’s my first stop. I spend my flight to Dusseldorf transcribing an interview with Mexican DJ Jessica Audiffred, who told me,

“People want to experience a festival. People want to get crazy. They just want a place where they can let their emotions go. They just want to have fun. They just want to get wild and electronic music can give that and a lot of other things. Just to be in the festival scene, you realize why people go. You realize why people are interested. I think electronic music is a way for people just to be free and just to be themselves and have fun and let everything go.”

Slowly, my inner fairy kitten princess takes power back from the workaholic, money-driven person I never wanted to be. Now, nine months since EDC, I’m partying in a new country practically every month, I haven’t made myself throw up since last summer, and am still with the guy from Amnesia. And I’ve got rainbow hair.

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The right photo was taken the week before EDC; the left was taken the week I arrived in Germany.

My world used to extend from the Kips Bay studio apartment where I worked myself to the bone and stuffed my face to the 28th Street Starbucks where I filled my empty stomach and heart with cold brews. Now, it’s expanded through the beaches of Ibiza, the nightclubs of Berlin, the casinos of Vegas, and the Brooklyn clubs I used to pass by because I was “too busy.”

But there’s much more fairy kitten princess left in me, telling me to chuck it all and be a DJ, and she grows louder every time I hear “Stomper.”