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The Emperor Of Ice Cream

What started out as a composition assignment – setting a poem to music – blew up into the real deal: song, studio recording, video shoot and finished release. The poem, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream," by Wallace Stevens, was first published in 1922, so it's about time for a comeback. Stevens' lines have a loping feel ("Call the roller of big cigars…" ) that finds its musical expression in the voluptuous bump of the rhythm track.The overall effect is like a jazz jam by way of Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, with maybe a slight nod to Cab Calloway.

Footage for the video was shot at the annual Village Halloween Parade in New York City. If you stand in one place the flow of changing costumes and floats starts to feel like the organic shape-shifting of old Max Fleischer animations.

  • Ethan Cord
  • Ethan Cord
  • Project Type:
    Music Video
  • Runtime:
    3 minutes 8 seconds
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Ethan Cord

Ethan Cord is an all-purpose songwriter, musician and singer. He is also a visual artist who creates graphics and videos to accompany his recordings. With a long background in music and visual arts, Cord has worked as a songwriter, sideman, bandleader, producer, engineer, graphic designer and video producer. This has given him a rich experience in musical and songwriting styles stretching from Johnny Mercer and Cole Porter to Phoebe Bridgers and Esther Dean. Cord’s songs tend to be unique, polished pieces that resonate across a wide range of genres and trends.
After growing up in a small college town in upstate NY, Cord moved to Boston and then New York City with his band, The Immigrants. Signed to East Coast Productions, the band recorded at Blank Tapes Studios along with SalSoul stalwarts like Yogi Horton and Buster Jones, and across the hall from David Byrne of Talking Heads and Chris Styne of Blondie. While The Immigrants’ recordings never made it much past Studio C, Ethan Cord continued to write and produce music, founding Bullet Recording Studios and recording material for artists like Lou Christie, Trudy Miller and Sherrie Lamar.
Along the way, Cord lived in South India, studying the Mridangam drum, and, back in the US, taking classes at Berklee College of Music in Boston, as well as at Mannes School of Music and The Actor’s Institute in New York. Time spent learning from Doc Pomus (Save The Last Dance For Me) introduced him to the Brill Building group of songwriters. Meanwhile, Cord’s visual arts career developed on its own track. He studied with Milton Glaser (of I “heart” NY logo fame) and for many years his grafilicious inc. design studio was responsible for all the visuals for NY’s Lower East Side district.
Ethan Cord’s songs have been compared with writers as disparate as Lou Reed, Harold Arlen and Johnny Cash, and his music spans styles from Country to Reggae. Cord's diverse background leads him to emphasize sentiment over style, because an honest lyric or heart-felt melody can resonate forever.

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Director Statement

This is the fantastic Wallace Stevens poem, adapted and set to music that tries to capture the anarchic spirit of the verses. All the footage in the video was shot at the annual Village Halloween Parade, a must-see event in New York City.