Alice Glass is a survivor, but she isn’t every survivor.
For her debut solo album, Glass knew she wanted the project to address her experience with the band Crystal Castles and the alleged abuse she endured, but she needed to do so in her own way. “The record itself is a last desperate cry, but it’s not one that needs sympathy,” Glass says. “It’s sort of an amalgamation of suffering. But I didn’t write from the perspective of coming out on the other side as a stronger person or being sympathized with, it’s somewhere in the middle. This isn’t an album about the idealized survivor that we see in the media who’s overcome extreme odds. It represents the things that have happened in my life, how I’ve taken control and addressed it.”
Glass made her departure from Crystal Castles in 2014 after being a part of the band for over eight years. According to the statement shared to her website, Glass met her bandmate Ethan Kath when she was 15 and he was 25. Before and during her time in Crystal Castles, Glass alleges that she’d been stalked, manipulated, sexually harassed, controlled and physically abused by Kath. She began releasing solo music in 2015 and put out an EP in 2017, which briefly touched on her experience as a survivor. However, it wasn’t until now that she felt ready to showcase the true depths of her story.
“I was honestly getting a lot of pressure from older teams that I was working with and they would be like, ‘Hey, when is all of this abuse stuff going to be over?’” Glass says. “I wasn’t healing at the right pace that everyone wanted me to. I just started to resent this perfect survivor who came out of it stronger. Because what if you don’t come out of it stronger? Does that make you a weaker person? And if it does, should that be pointed out?”
The album, which hits streaming platforms on January 28 on Eating Glass Records, is entitled “PREY//IV.” Like the songs that wound up making the album, Glass was very strategic about representing her survivor story on her own terms and in her own words. “The full title is ‘PREY//IV Alice Glass,’” Glass says. “I was raised Catholic and I wanted to bring in the idea of praying. I wrote it as prey because I feel like young women and young men are often chosen to be other people’s prey and they don’t have a choice about that. You can be targeted and have no idea. You can think that you’re living a totally independent life and there could be dark forces that are secretly trying to get to you.”
When working on this project, Glass was intentional in not including any collaborations on the album. It was important to keep the story her own while maintaining complete creative control of the project. She did, however, entrust producer Jupiter Keyes to lend a hand throughout the process. “It’s been years of work in the making between me and my producer Jupiter,” Glass says. “I really like getting in the studio and trying a bunch of ideas right away. I’m more of a top-liner, melodic person so we’ll decide on the instrumentals that we’re going to use for a piece and build off from there. For every song we have on the record, I think I’ve written and recorded, like, 10 melodies for each one. There’s a lot of trial and error because I want to have the right emotion for every song and melody.”
In the years spent working on this album, Glass recorded dozens upon dozens of songs. In fact, she admits that when she started compiling the tracklist, she felt like she was drowning in four years’ worth of melodies and beats. Nevertheless, she eventually settled on a lucky 13 songs, each of which gives fans insight into her story beyond what they’ve read online or gathered from her earlier solo music.
“There’s a song called ‘Fair Game’ and in it I’m pretty much gaslighting myself with things my abuser said to me,” Glass says. “At first, it was almost like this therapeutic exercise and it was kind of scary to listen back to the real quotes that were said to me. It was intense for me when we were editing and fixing it, but then I started to get used to it. The more you get used to it, the less impact the words have and the more ridiculous it seems. Now, when I listen to it, I dance and quote things from it like, ‘If anyone knew the real you, you wouldn’t have any friends.’”
With this album, Glass is laying it all on the line. She’s no longer afraid to speak openly about her alleged abuse and has nothing to hide behind. She has found the confidence to address the situation head-on, trading in the metaphor-laden lyrics of her earlier work and embracing writing in the first person.
“I know that sounds like such a small thing, but before there was almost a rule about never using the first person or making it clear about how you feel about anything,” Glass explains. “This led to a huge emotional disconnection, because I couldn’t express [my] true feelings and [music] had to be this portrait. I’ve really put myself out there more, even though it makes me more vulnerable, but it’s fully worth it and I’ve definitely grown more confident as an artist.”
These days it’s pretty common for a public figure to come forward about their alleged abuse, but it wasn’t always this way. The #MeToo movement, as started by Tarana Burke, was relatively unknown and wouldn’t come to mainstream recognition for another decade back when Glass was a member of Crystal Castles. In the mid-2000s, society wasn’t ready to fully confront the issue, and neither was Glass. That landscape has changed significantly over the last couple of years, for celebrities and everyday survivors alike.
“I’m lucky to be a woman in the times we live in now because I have my own voice on social media and people believe me,” Glass says. “I just want to represent a lot of people that I know are out there. People only know about my story because I make music and [my story] has been publicized, but grooming is this huge unspoken thing. I would like to let people know they’re not alone in their feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness and there are moments of embracing positivity, even if it’s just embracing the darkness.”
In sharing her story, Glass has created a remarkable bond with her fans, with benefits going both ways. Her music has provided support for other survivors who have felt utterly alone in their struggles, and in return Glass has been able to lean on her fans in a way she never imagined possible. This support has given her the strength to keep going and she’s found a way to carry it with her everywhere she goes. “When I played my first solo show, everyone threw white roses on the stage,” Glass says. “It was really overwhelming. It inspired me to get a white rose tattooed, which in my head represents a new hope.”
In addition to the white rose, Glass has collected some other pieces to remind her of what she’s overcome. The tattoos are not designed to rehash the past or bring up bad memories, but to act as a powerful statement of her freedom. “I have some chain tattoos to represent breaking free from the chains of my past,” Glass says. “I really like the feeling of being tattooed. I think it was cathartic just even having the people who tattoo me be sympathetic about it. I was kind of worried about artists being judgemental, but they were really cool and we became friends.”
Alice Glass spent the first half of her career shrouded in darkness. However, through the help of her fans and friends, she’s learned to embrace darkness on her own terms. “I’ve been in bands since I was 13 and I feel like I’m not trained for anything else,” Glass says. “It was not really another thought. I spent eight years on tour, countless hours in the studio, and I’ve put in a lot of time doing things for someone else’s vision. I wanted to do it on my own.”