Yesterday, Crystal Castles released a new song, “Frail” — which came as something of a shock, as the band’s vocalist, Alice Glass, announced her departure from the group last year, causing many people to believe Crystal Castles were done for good. That would have made sense: Crystal Castles were a duo made up of Glass and songwriter/producer/instrumentalist Ethan Kath. When “Frail” dropped, it was accompanied by a message from Kath, saying the following of Glass:
i wish my former vocalist the best of luck in her future endeavors. i think it can be empowering for her to be in charge of her own project. it should be rewarding for her considering she didn’t appear on Crystal Castles’ best known songs. (she’s not on Untrust Us. “Not In Love,” “Vanished,” “Crimewave,” “Vietnam,” “Magic Spells,” “Knights,” “Air War,” “Leni,” “Lovers Who Uncover,” “Violent Youth,” “Reckless,” “Year of Silence,” “Intimate,” “1991,” “Good Time,” “Violent Dreams” etc.). people often gave her credit for my lyrics and that was fine, i didn’t care.
Kath later edited that message, cutting out the notes regarding Glass’ involvement in Crystal Castles, and adding a new bit of information: the name of the vocalist on “Frail,” whom he identified only as “Edith”:
i wish my former vocalist the best of luck in her future endeavors. i think it can be empowering for her to be in charge of her own project. <3 this is Edith on vocals
So who’s Edith? Speculation abounded. Numerous Facebook commenters suggested that Edith was in fact Victoria’s Secret model Stella Maxwell, who certainly looks a little bit like Glass. Many of the speculators, though, missed a hint provided by Kath two days ago. That hint came in the form of a photo shared by Kath on Crystal Castles’ Facebook. It’s the same photo that’s at the top of this page — of Kath and a baby in a pink onesie — and it included the following caption:
10th anniversary of the release of “untrust us” and “magic spells”. this was the photo used in the press release (alice wasn’t in the band yet). features edie whose voice i sampled on “knights”
So there you have it, maybe? Edie, presumably, is also Edith. (And Edie is also presumably the baby in that picture.) It’s not impossible to imagine that the vocalist on this track is in fact a child whose voice has been pitch-shifted.
The “Edie” news in relation to “Knights” was a revelation never before shared by Kath. YouTube commenters were surprised and impressed!
If that picture were taken 10+ years ago, it would make “Edie” old enough to have sung “Frail.” So there’s your answer! Right? Maybe not — there are a few weird inconsistencies here.
First off, it’s pretty hard to confirm that “Untrust Us” and “Magic Spells” were released on April 15, 2005 — and it’s a whole lot harder to believe there was any sort of photo-accompanied press release that went out with the songs. As Complex noted in 2010, Crystal Castles’ first official release was the 2006 single “Alice Practice” — so named for the song’s evolutionary process. As Complex wrote, Crystal Castles first single was, in fact, “a mistake”:
Ethan Kath met Alice Glass when she was just 15. Impressed by her work with a local punk band, he hit her with a disc full of instrumentals. Alice wrote to a few of the songs and when she went to the studio to record them, the sound engineer secretly recorded her soundcheck. The track was aptly titled “Alice Practice” and went on to become the band’s first official release.
So it’s at least a little suspicious that Crystal Castles’ Facebook would be updated in commemoration of an anniversary pre-dating “Alice Practice” — an update that matter-of-factly included the heretofore-unheard “Edie” news — especially considering the page had been dormant since August 21, 2014. It’s even more suspicious that “Frail” would follow less than 24 hours later, with “Edith” on vocals.
But here’s the thing: Kath has a history of Catfish-esque obfuscation. Ethan Kath isn’t even the guy’s real name; it’s Claudio Palmieri. That’s not exactly widely known, though — it was discovered by Exclaim! in 2009, and even then, only after some digging. Wrote Exclaim!:
Ethan Kath, producer/instrumentalist for Toronto’s Crystal Castles, recently spoke with Exclaim!, admitting, “We used to have our friends do our interviews and we instructed them to make up stupid stories and names. My name isn’t Claudio — that’s one of my roommates. Our roommates’ names would get into interviews, and we’d go somewhere and a fan would be, “Hey Conrad, how’s it going?” Another time I’m Clint, and Claudio … But my name’s Ethan.”
Good to know. Or so we thought. According to a reliable source close to the band, “Mr. Kath” is not who he appears to be. Or the other three or four people he appears to be. “His name is not Ethan or Ethin. I have no idea why he wants to be called that but yeah, [it’s definitely] Claudio,” the source told Exclaim!. “I can’t believe the stories that Claudio (yes, Claudio) concocts. This whole ‘lazy journalists’ thing he talked about is so unfair — I have friends who wrote early articles on them and who are really pissed about that line he is using in these new interviews.”
It’s probably also worth noting that Alice Glass wasn’t always called Alice Glass, either. She previously went by Vicki Vale, but was (apparently) born Margaret Osborne. Here’s the real twist, though:
Before Crystal Castles, Kath played in a band called Kill Cheerleader under the name Ethan Deth. Which sounds kind of like “Edith,” no? Here, break it down even further:
Ethan Deth = E.Deth = E.D. = Edie = Edith
So maybe the vocalist on “Frail” is a pitch-shifted Kath? Or maybe Edith is a code name for an anonymous Glass replacement. Kath never explicitly says Edie is the name of the baby in that picture — he just says that the picture features Edie, whose voice was sampled on “Knights.” According to Kath, Glass “didn’t appear on Crystal Castles’ best known songs” — and that list includes “Knights” among many others. Somebody appeared on those songs, though. But no one is stepping up to take credit. Well, no one but Kath. And whether or not he wants to minimize Glass’ contributions to Crystal Castles, he’s effectively done just that by suggesting an infant — an actual baby! — had done the job with which Glass had been credited.
When Glass first left Crystal Castles, someone identified as their manager told NME not to assume the band would cease to exist, saying, “There will be twists and turns ahead for Crystal Castles.”
Indeed there will. It’s already a goddamn maze.
UPDATE: Alice Glass has responded! It is ON.