A Few Minutes with… Izzy “As Iz” Singer
Izzy Singer, who is known professionally by the moniker As Iz, released another album on August 31st. Titled Children of the Cathode Ray, As Iz takes his listeners through several storylines during the course of the album. An album generally steeped in the folk genre; there were several moments that stuck out during the course of my perusal.
For example, the opening track “You Think You Know Love,” used a repetitious chorus and melody to drive the point home. If As Iz wanted to create a memorable tune off the first listen, he surely completed his goal with this track. There were songs on this record that, in my opinion, oscillated between being tongue-in-cheek commentary, combined with a sense of a longing characteristic. Primary examples of this were found in the title track, “Children of the Cathode Ray,” as well as “What Will We Live to See” and “Way of the World,” tracks three and eight, respectively.
Breaking up the pace of the album a bit was track seven, “Steve Nover is Here (Infinite Cha Cha).” An instrumental tune, it was nice to step away for a bit and sink into the groove fleshed out by As Iz in this particular track.
There were several songs throughout the album in which I appreciated what As Iz was trying to get across to his listeners – especially when it came to the numerous guitar overdubs. Creating almost a dreamy effect in some places, these production moments came to mind in tunes such as “Winter,” “Pocketful of Souls,” and “Sea Change,” which happen to be the last three tracks on the album.
As a whole, this listener would say As Iz crafted an album chock full of songs that have great potential for widespread enjoyability. That being said, while it is worth noting this album was written, performed, and produced solely by the songwriter, I felt it bears mentioning that some of the performances heard on the record were often at odds with themselves. If the performances were tightened up across the board, this would be one killer of an album. As it stands for me right now, it served excellently as an idea of the songwriting skills that As Iz possesses.
Upon listening to the record, I reached out to Izzy for an interview. What follows is said interview. To listen to the album, please continue to the link at the end of this article.
Lucas Garrett: Hello, Izzy! I have to say the title of your record was a great draw for me. It drew me in for a listen as I wanted to hear what type of music would be associated with said title. For those that may not know, what does the title reference, and how did you come to name it that?
Izzy Singer: Lucas, firstly, I just want to thank you for taking the time to discuss my new album. “Children of the Cathode Ray” comes from the title of the cover painting, which actually came first. I began working on a series of drawings and paintings in late 2019 that depict TV sets with blank screens and human shapes observing them in various contexts. I am actually still developing this series of paintings. In any event, the title track was written as a sort of elaboration on my visual concept. Originally, the idea was to write songs using the titles of each drawing or painting, but as other song ideas percolated, I went with those.
LG: What inspired you to write, perform, record, and produce the entire record on your own? That’s a pretty steep task!
IS: I’ve loved tape recorders and the recording process since I was a child; my Dad recorded the family on a Webcor reel to reel when I was about 3 years old, and my cousin gave me a tape recorder at age 5. Fast forward to years later (sorry about the pun), I was bitten by the production bug in the 1980’s, when the band I was drumming in (a Hebrew rock band called Shir Chadash) recorded an EP at Arabellum Studios, with the late Art Snay at the helm. As I listened to playbacks in the control room, I thought, wow, I’d love to do this myself! So, I set about doing just that, with the purchase of a Tascam 4-track recorder. I feel as though I’m able to achieve my own artistic vision that way. (I’m not always successful in fully realizing that vision, ha.) I have worked well with other musicians over the years, but self-production maintains the ethos I started with, going back to the release of my first official self-titled 1989 cassette, “As Iz.”
LG: What do you feel is different, if anything, about this album, as opposed to your other works?
IS: The answer is largely in terms of production. Many of the tracks on the new album are layered with background vocals and instrumental parts to a larger extent than previous releases. I also did numerous mixes of the songs, more so than on other albums. I got really picky on this one!
LG: As a performing songwriter in the area for quite some time now, how does this release feel to you when compared with other releases you’ve put out? Do you have any plans to get the message of the album out?
IS: In a way, it feels the same as other albums, as it reflects personal emotional states, as well as my typical songwriting and production process. That said, the pandemic, the George Floyd murder, the 2020 election, climate change and other World events loomed large in my thinking on this set of songs. I have been promoting the album via social media; I’m grateful that WEXT has had one of the tracks, “You Think You Know Love” on its rotation the last several weeks; I am also playing gigs , namely, at Pauly’s as a support act to “Wild Honey Collective” on October 6th, as well as a solo gig at the East Greenbush Library on October 13th. Hopefully, I’ll be doing more gigs in the months to come.
LG: Is there anything we’ve missed that you’d like to discuss?
IS: I’m happy to have the opportunity to discuss my art, so I thank you for that, and hope that listeners will enjoy the songs.
LG: Thank you for sitting down with me today, and I wish you the best of luck with your new music!
IS: Lucas, thank you very much for your great questions, and for listening to this album!