Purity Ring have crafted a domain all their own. The Canadian twosome, comprised of Corin Roddick and Megan James, have enticed international crowds with anomalous music and enchanting oculars in their shows. It seems just about everyone ever is enamoured with their work. Roddick, the fellow behind Purity Ring’s opulent sonics puts it simply: “We make pop music. It’s catchy.”
But, Purity Ring have transcended the genre. In Shrines, the duo have borne songs with remarkably persuasive hooks sans the vacuousness in which pop revels. He continues, “I think there are different ways of how people appreciate it: for the lyrics, or for the pop accessibility of the melodies, the sound or production. It has a broad appeal in that way.” The music is potent in its enigmatic darkness and sensuality, coalesced with James’ lucent voice divulging true, occult poetry.
Roddick’s rhythms are exceptionally mature and developed. It’s hard to remember that he has primarily been a drummer for all of his musician life. So, what provokes these soundscapes? He insists his creations are not derived from any emotional place, the way James’ lyrics are a diary of sorts. “I just find the things I do and things I hear and things I see shape my taste,” he explains. “Like being around any kind of music. Even if it’s music you would think that has no overlap with what we do, I’m always still listening to it on a more analytical level.”
He goes on further. “I don’t feel like the music we make is terribly complex. It’s just me removing all the things I don’t like, which are a lot of things. That leaves a few elements left and then I try to see how I can make them work together.” Roddick works by extracting. Through negative space, he has allowed the music to swell and presume with character, providing us with moments of brief suspension only to have it gushingly return and saturate us in wanton beats. And though he feels their music is simple, precision is not something to be sacrificed. “There are things that I can be relaxed about, but there are definitely things I will lose sleep over, like finishing a song, or feeling like our live show is not up to par,” he says. “I feel like I’ll never release a song unless I am completely happy with it. If there’s even the slightest thing that bothers me without my knowing, I won’t put it out. Even if it takes months for me to get it where it needs to be.”
Perhaps this is why Purity Ring’s music has siphoned itself from the rest and flourished. The band have dedicated themselves to meticulousness, releasing their songs one-by-one over the past year without haste prior to finally releasing the entire collection in Shrines. Their particularity has given rise to immaculacy, their music being an expert alloy of melodies, sounds and lyrics yet devoid of excess.
But Roddick assures me that their prospective music will take a different turn. “My tastes are changing all the time. It’s difficult to articulate, but I already feel that I wouldn’t make songs that sound like this again,” he says. “They would be similar in the way that I have a consistent sense of melody, things like that. But, certain aspects, like a lot of the production techniques and tastes, have evolved and grown. I don’t know what we make in the future will sound like, but I know it won’t sound like what we’ve just made.”
Through their live performances, Purity Ring have conceived an illusory world, liken to their music. “When we perform in front of people, we want it to be a show. We want it to be something that people want to watch, something that will truly hold their attention,” exclaims Roddick and how they have done it. The stage is a cave carefully peppered with glowing orbs dripping from the ceiling, that illuminate and exhale with the music. Roddick’s sound-work is enshrouding. With each strike to his own incandescent contraption, he immerses the crowd in his lusty, fluid beats. James is a bewitching siren in her movements and has seduced the audience right up to the stage. She commands us with each pound to her large lit-up drum. Her voice though saccharine, bullets us with grisly, visceral imagery. And as the crowd drowns in Roddick’s beats, and mimic James’ grim words, we are all too willingly lulled into Purity Ring’s luminous, vivid dimension.
By Nivedita Iyer
Photo: Sebastian Mlynarski