Interview by Miriam Cadoni

US Crossover metal duo Icon for Hire are back with a brand new release called “Amorphous” out on the 18th February. After extensively touring and publishing “Still Can’t Kill Us: Acoustic Sessions” back in 2018, the duo announced a Kickstarter campaign which it has exceeded the band’s expectations. However, “Amorphous” represents both an artistic maturity for the band and a personal statement for the singer Ariel of how life can impact you and change. In this regard, Ariel has recently published your book “Turn Your Pain Into Art”. Let’s discover more together. Enjoy!

Hi Ariel, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how these precarious days are treating you? 

I’m all right. At the moment I’m cooped up here because in Tennessee is quite cold. So, I’m just ready to be back on the road again and hang out with everybody again.

On the 19th February 2021, it will be released Icon for Hire’s “Amorphous”. What can you share about its general production? 

We’re very excited about it. It has a lot of cool breakdowns, heavy riffs and then, the classic Icon for Hire production that Shawn Jump does. It has been a while since the last album and this album features some of the heaviest, some of the pop-ish and some of the hip hop moments that the band has ever produced. Actually, this time was really fun to explore a lot of different stuff.  

For what I’ve learned, for “Amorphous” you have work with the Grammy nominated engineer Romesh Dodangoda. Why did you opt to work with him? And most importantly, how was to work with him?  

Yeah, we end up working up with him due to his involvement with Bring Me Horizon which is one of Shawn Jump’s favorite bands. He’s also the favorite one more than mine because he’s much more involved in the production then me. Taking into account the different time-zones in which we both live, we were able to work with him through WhatsApp and it proved to be quite an interesting challenge. 

For example, when we were mixing the album over here, it was 7 AM and we started to work quite early. In light of this experience, it was definitely a learning curve for us working in this way because we never handle like that. But he was really patient with us and we were contacting him back and forth and we simply reached our goal. 

The Kickstarter campaign that was set up for “Amorphous” was really successful to the point you managed to collected up to 263.000$. First of all, my congrats. Then, what does it make to safe to use this method and why did you opt for this option? If you allow me, the collected amount is crazy… 

[Laughs] We did the whole campaign in one month. But I agree with you. It’s crazy and we didn’t expect that from our fans. They have literally blown up our minds. Though, we are really glad that we did it this way with our fans. Not because of the potential success of the campaign because it was really enjoyable to connect with our fans.

Since we’re not able to tour, we were connecting with our fans 3 or 4 per week through our live streaming. Thanks to our fans, our weekly appointments were really interactive and these occasions, they were proposing ideas for rewards. Of course, it was a lot of work but it turned out pretty fun to do. 

At the beginning, we’re so sure to adopt this method but the more we kept going, the more everybody at Icon for Hire’s team was getting excited. In the end, we got to spend a lot of time with our fans and we’ll surely cherish those moments. 

Out of “Amorphous”, the singles “Seeds” and “Curse or Cure” were released. What can you disclose about these two songs? 

Sure, “Curse or Cure” was released as the first one. And, that song was conceived during our European tour that which was cut short due to the pandemic. Though, before its end, Shawn came up with the music and the first time I heard that, I wasn’t convinced at all to use it. In the end, he really loved it, he fought for it and I love it me too.

Lyrically, for “Curse or Cure” I was inspired by a podcast whose how is one of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle. During this episode, she was saying people in her life make her feel like she’s crazy and she people convinced her with that thought to the point she believed that she’s wasn’t able to take care of herself.

Well, it’s what I got from it. So, “Curse or Cure” explores that idea and it resonates a lot with me. Instead, “Seeds” is completely opposite to “Curse or Cure”. It’s heavy, it has some electronic elements.  

Photo by Doltyn Sneddon

Your previous album “You Can’t Kill Us” dates back to 2016. Which are the main sonic and lyrical elements that can differ between “Amorphous” and your previous release? 

[Laughs] Well, I always think that the new stuff is better than the old one. And it’s much funnier. Also, I get much more excited about it. Jokes aside, I’m incline to say that since we are on the verge to release our fourth full-length, I had the chance to explore new lyrical themes then before. 

Also, it’s something that the listeners will notice and there’s more variety in “Amorphous” than “You Can’t Kill Us”. For better or worse. However, you’ll find for sure something that you’ll like, even if not everything is for you, you’ll find something to connect with. As I mentioned before, it’s a little bit heavier and happier. Moreover, it’s more pop-y than before and it has some straight, dog up hip-hop songs. I’m really excited about it. 

On the album are featured 3 interludes called “Brittle”“Thirteen” and “Impossibles and Obstacles”. I was particularly impressed by those and I wanted to learn which is their general function and what they introduce? 

Actually, what you have mentioned is the practical example of how we approached differently with our new album. We had more fun with that and that happens when a band is open to experiment and explore new options. Usually, when you producing your first or second album, you just keep it straight.

At least we did that. Though, if we take in consideration our third interlude “Impossibles and Obstacles” has the vibe of a freestyle rap song. It wasn’t a complete song, we have just put together some ideas and within one take, it was just flowing through it. 

While “Thirteen” is me on a piano in a room. It was simply recorded with my iPhone. Considering all, those interludes are there for an improved texture and for a breathing. They are with the function of break up some of the other song’s development.  

Ariel, recently you have published your book “Turn Your Pain Into Art”. First of all, how did you come up with it? Furthermore, does it link with Icon for Hire’s upcoming album “Amorphous”

Sure, it does. Though, I came up with that because of a class I taught which had the same title together with our fans. During these lessons, I was sitting on the grass and sharing ideas and insights that helped me on learning to love ourselves better. It was really transformative for me to turn the ‘self’ into ‘self-love’. So, those conversations I was having with our audience during Icon for Hire’s tour literally the contents of the book. 

It explores both my story as well as traditional self-help things that could help for me and that couldn’t work too which I would like to pass into the reader. If truth to be told, in “Turn Your Pain Into Art” I was in a different place than in “Amorphous” or another songs. Basically, what you do when you’re struggling internally for a long time is attempting to find some breathing room. 

What do you do if you get better and suddenly, you do a step backwards? I know, it has been scary because you love the progress you achieved. But I feel with this last album I was really honest about it. I’m not like putting up a front and merely, saying that’s easy to accomplish that. To say the least, those are just facts. Sometimes, it’s 24 steps forward and sometimes, it’s 24 back. Sometimes, I even think that I’m worse of when I stared this journey. To be honest, we have to be willing to share.  

In this previous question, we have mentioned things such as self-love and your lessons that you gave in the past to your fans online. Seeing yourself on perspective and after of this experience, what did you learn? 

So, one of the biggest things that I achieved was to recognise the bully in my own head. At that time, I was using guilt to motivate me in every aspect of my life. In my spiritual, my daily and in my professional one. But it was even time to get better and move ahead. Indeed, it has been a huge journey to be ok, to achieve where I am now and not to blown everybody’s head or mine. 

In the past, I used to give myself approval, worth and validation only if I did something to impress myself. That’s not a healthy way to live my life, all the love I have comes from my performances. I have to give myself my own love, compassion regardless of how I behave in the world. 

What the future holds for Icon for Hire

Girl, I don’t know. I have no idea. If was able to do it in my way, I’ll just keep up on doing songs, keep much closer with our community by meeting the fans that we have and hopefully, get to tour again. Despite all, I’m so grateful that we have this long-spanning career thus far and if we keep going in this direction, I’ll totally be a happy artist.

I would like just to keep writing songs, keep expressing myself in this way, stay connected to myself and to my audience. Lastly, it’s what me and Shawn want to do and it feels good to be able to do it. It feels possible. 

Well, Ariel, unfortunately we are at the end. First, thank you so much and then, please be free to say hi to your fans and our readers. Thank you again. 

Hello, it’s Ariel here from Icon for Hire. Thank you so much to the readers of Femme Metal Webzine for having me and I just to remind to everybody to have self-compassion no matter where you are in life. Especially, in COVID times, we cannot always trust our own hearts and brains. In consequence of that, we have to give ourselves extra love, spoil ourselves and also, be loving and kind to everyone around us.  

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