IAN SWEET on Trust, Transitions, and Her New Short Film

By Amy Garlesky

We tend to commend the artist who pours everything into their work–searching to the depths of their heart and soul to deliver work representative of their experience. Deciding to twist this tradition, LA-based artist Jilian Medford took a different approach for her third full-length record as IAN SWEET–she chose to leave space.

It’s a process Jilian found liberating when writing Show Me How You Disappear. Rather than aiming to fit her personal experiences into her work, the collection of tracks find a new sense of intention and take on a life of their own–supporting one another’s stories and carefully bracing their commonalities. The result is a record incredibly resolute in its healing and determined in its personal exploration. It’s one where, even in its more surprising and dizzying moments, we can feel guided through Jilian’s memories and struggles–maybe to even find, in the end, bits of our own reflections too.

Earlier this year, Jilian picked up a disposable film camera to show us the behind of the scenes of her new short film for Show Me How You Disappear. In our subsequent conversation, we discussed the lead-up to her album and the influences and themes behind it. Read our exchange and watch her new film below.

Slumber: If you could describe Show Me How You Disappear in three words to someone who’s never even heard your music, what would you say?

Jilian Medford: Transparent, Restless, Freeing

Slumber: This album cover is very different from your past releases but still reminds me of how colorful and vibrant Shapeshifter was. How do you see this album cover compared to your past albums? What inspired it & the decision for you?

Jilian: It was difficult for me to land on the cover. I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted it to be a photo or something more graphic/hand-drawn. I decided not to have a photo of myself for this one because this album feels like so much more than that. I didn’t want a single picture stamped in time to be what this album feels like (to a viewer) forever. This album is chaotic, restless, entangled, freeing, and so fucking honest. I wanted a piece of art that felt like all of those things–so it made sense for it to not just be one solitary image but rather a blend of multiple.

“My intention with the record aligned with my intentions in outpatient therapy––to heal, transform and find a new beginning with myself. I will always be working on those things ... but this record made me dive headfirst into them.”

Slumber: Speaking of color, what colors do you most associate with this release? What are the colors that embody it and remind you of its process & completion?

Jilian: This release feels both dark and then also very neon to me. I see black and bright, bright … almost blinding green.

Slumber: Inklings of this record began over two years ago in 2018. What has changed during the process of creating this mix of new songs–did you find yourself having different feelings, intentions, and goals at the end of the process than when you started?

Jilian: Definitely. I was in a big transition period in my life while writing the record. I was finding things out about myself and then writing the songs in real time. Processing the feelings with each new lyric or chord. This record was very emotional for me to make, sometimes overwhelming and emotionally taxing but I pressed on because I knew I wanted to document these feelings as I was feeling them!

My intention with the record aligned with my intentions in outpatient therapy–to heal, transform and find a new beginning with myself. I will always be working on those things, it’s a never-ending cycle but this record made me dive headfirst into them.

Slumber: The pandemic is over and life returns to normal–where’s the first place you want to perform this record?

Jilian: I think I just want to play it for my close friends to start. But then I’d love to play outdoors somewhere maybe at a festival. This record and these songs need a big space I think! I want the music to be loud as fuck haha!

Slumber: Is there anything sonically distinct about this record? Did you try any new recording techniques, gear, anything that defined its sound for you?

Jilian: There are basically no live drums on this record so that was very different for me. Worked hard on programming drums and building a lot around that! That wasn’t totally my plan but then the pandemic hit and had to adapt.

Slumber: How have you been spending your time during the pandemic? Have you started any new hobbies, or more generally, any new part of life you’ve discovered that excites you?

Jilian: I got a dog!! His name is blueberry and he’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. I spend a lot of time with him, hiking and running around. I picked up crocheting and have been knitting hats and bags and all sorts of things! I love it so much.

Slumber: You make a lot of references to nature on this record…bodies of water, clouds, wilderness. Was that an intentional choice or was there something, some experience, or some place inspiring that motif?

Jilian: I think I was manifesting those things. Wanting to become the body of water or relating a relationship to drowning in it. During the pandemic, I was doing a lot of camping and it felt amazing. I just like to relate my body and my emotions to nature…since we are all made up of crushed-up rocks anyway.

Slumber: What’s something you like your listeners to gain, learn, or feel after they listen through this release. How is it different from your past releases?

Jilian: I want listeners to feel connected to themselves, powerful, brave, safe, and held. This release is different from others just because I was going through very specific and difficult things that led to the music being more honest and open than ever before.

“This album is chaotic, restless, entangled, freeing, and so fucking honest. I wanted a piece of art that felt like all of those things...”

Slumber: And to turn it back around, what have you gained or what lessons do you think the album has instilled for you moving forward to your next project?

Jilian: This record has helped me to trust myself and my instinct. I have struggled in the past to be proud of what I make, I have always been my own worst enemy and super harsh critic (who isn’t) but I have been very hard on myself in the past, like almost intentionally hurting my own feelings before anyone else does. But on this record, I felt proud, strong, intentional and it has, in turn, helped me feel confident in what I’ve made.

Slumber: Lastly, for those planning on listening to Show Me How You Disappear once it’s released: what’s the ideal setting for listening? Feel free to be specific as you like.

Jilian: For some reason, I feel like maybe in a parked car? Outside of your house? At dusk?–Haha–Or driving somewhere? … with windows down, without distractions.

Watch IAN SWEET’s short film for ‘Show Me How You Disappear’ out today below: