By Kyra Leib
It’s a good thing that I changed my shirt and brushed my hair before hearing Megan James of Purity Ring say “Hey, I can’t see you!” when I sat down to have a chit chat with the hot new band over Skype. I turned on the video and there they were; Megan and Corrin Roddick sitting for a moment in the darkness of Roddick’s apartment before turning on the lights. “There, that’s better” I said as the lights came on and Roddick’s gorgeous apartment came into view. I began shooting questions at the duo and here’s what came of it!
Stylus: How do you coordinate songwriting together living in two different cities [Megan Lives in Halifax, Corrin in Montreal]?
Megan James: Well we already write mostly independently. Corrin will send me a track and I’ll send him a demo back. When we get together all we do is record, which is still a writing process.
Stylus: How did it come to be that you guys started playing together?
MJ: Corrin started writing tracks and asked if I wanted to sing over them, regardless of where we were at the time.
Corrin Roddick: Yeah.
Stylus: Are there any shows that you’ve done that really stick out to you?
CR: There are some that I consider very special. It was our first show in Amsterdam and we were playing in an old church for about 200 people and everything about that show was just incredible.
MJ: We haven’t had anything really crazy happen to us during a gig yet. There have been shows that we’ve FELT kind of crazy.
Stylus: Can you talk about your influences, musical and non-musical?
MJ: Well, I feel like I still don’t know what my influences are… Umm…
CR: I think you’re influenced by all things non-musical.
MJ: I like sleeping and dreaming, I will set my alarm for 8 am and say to myself if I go back to sleep I will have a bunch of dreams and I’ll probably remember them! The place that I live is really important to me in terms of an environment and how it affects me. I listen to a lot of really old jazz stuff and to music that doesn’t really sound like what we’re making at all.
Stylus: Do you ever try writing your dreams down?
MJ: Every time I remember them I am pretty adamant about writing them down.
Stylus: Is that for your own personal reflection or do you ever draw on it for your music?
MJ: It’s definitely for personal reflection, everyone gains a lot from remembering their dreams. Do you ever write your dreams down?
Stylus: I try to sometimes, I have one that I remember very specifically. It involved a zombie apocalypse and Woody Allen teaching the survivors how to do a confusing dance to repel the undead.
MJ: Yeah, there’s a number of dreams throughout my life that I have never forgotten. I had crazy childhood clown dreams.
Stylus: Would you share that one with us?
MJ: Well, I was with my neighbour friend that lived down the street and we were in hospital beds but all of the doctors and nurses were these creepy clowns and they started skinning us.
Stylus: [Gasps] And that one was a reoccurring one too?
MJ: Yeah, I had those in elementary school.
Stylus: Did you watch horror movies that would have brought that on?
MJ: Never, I refused to watch horror movies up until recently.
CR: That’s probably why whenever you do watch horror movies you have terrifying dreams. [chuckles]
Stylus: I’ve just recently listened to “Fineshrine” off of your new album. Can you describe what method of instruments is being used to create such incredible sounds?
CR: Well for “Fineshrine” I used a bunch of Megan’s vocals that I pitched up and chopped around and I tried listening back to it at a bunch of different speeds. I then turned it into a rhythm-
MJ: Is that my vocals? [laughs] I had no idea!
CR: So I turned it into a rhythm that sounded like something and then from there I started adding layers of synths and drum sounds and then all of a sudden it started to sound like a wall of different sounds. I really like doing things that interplay between different elements. For example, having the drums affect the synths, it might sound like there’s something else there but it’s really those two things playing off each other.
Stylus: So do you record the instruments and work from there?
CR: Well I don’t play any analog instruments. I usually just program and mess around. I usually have no idea what chords or notes I’m playing.
Stylus: Have you ever tried creating any musical instruments?
CR: We’ve created an instrument that we performed with. I don’t know if you’ve seen any videos of our show, but we have eight lanterns that sit around me and they’re all touch sensitive. I hit them with a mallet and it plays back a synth note. All of our main synth melodies are performed with it. The lanterns also light up in different colours.
Stylus: How did you get the idea to do that?
CR: I got the idea because I didn’t want to play a keyboard because I’m actually a drummer. It’s better for me to hit things with sticks than to try to fumble around with notes on a keyboard. It also adds a visual atmosphere to our sets.
MJ: And the music isn’t derived from a keyboard anyway and we wanted to portray the music as well as we could. It was important to create a unique way to perform it that people would be intrigued to see and to listen to as well.
CR: The music never came from musical instruments at all.
MJ: Corrin and I are both well versed in our respective instruments but that’s not anything to do with Purity Ring.
CR: I play drums and Megan plays piano but that’s not what we’re doing in Purity Ring at all. When I hear the sounds in the songs I picture those lanterns.
Purity Ring plays in Winnipeg on September 13 at the WECC. Check out their new release “Shrines” out July 24th!