Ivory Towers: Synth Pop and Self Care

Monday 12th, November 2018 / 09:00
By Andrea Nazarian

Listening to Ivory Towers feels like experiencing a beautiful, haunting dream sequence. Quinne Rodgers’ delicate vocals oscillate over experimental synths, heavily distorted melodies and ominous percussion, giving the listener an almost out-of-body pop music experience.

For Rodgers, music is all about surviving. The Vancouver-based artist uses the artform as a way to cope with the volatile political climate and environmental destruction we witness daily. Music is a kind of a security blanket for her, one that cares for and nurtures her through difficult times.

Queller is the third and latest offering from Rodgers as Ivory Towers. She was formerly a member of feminist electronic duo MYTHS, deciding to pursue music as a solo artist in 2014. The production on the eight-track EP gives off a dual sense of aggression and softness, layering growling, apocalyptic sounds with ethereal sonics and effervescent vocals. The result is highly evocative tracks that feel both brutal and soothing; hostile and dainty.

“I feel a lot of anger at what’s going on politically and environmentally around the world,” Rodgers says. “But at the same time, I have so much love for nature and beautiful things, so I want to make music that’s beautiful. For me, it’s impossible not to have that juxtaposition of optimism and anger in my work.”

There’s a deep sense of nurturing in Rodgers’ lyrics, but also a fierce, warrior-like protectiveness. “I’d pluck all the feathers outside my chest / To build us a warm and safe little nest,” she chirps on Sand Witches. “I saw some men marching down the road, two by two singing / I’m gonna bring some heads today,”— a metaphorical battle cry on Maenad Gore Competition.

Rodgers samples Mother Nature herself in Queller, warping animal and environmental noises to create beautiful sounds. Using advanced production software, she’s able to record the flutter of butterfly wings, the crunch of gravel or the humming of a wasp, playing with the raw recordings and turning them into intricate melodies.

With Queller, Rodgers wanted to create a body of work that was more accessible to a broader audience than her previous releases, using beat-driven synth pop as a medium to contribute meaningfully to the political and cultural landscape.

“I think all art is political, especially right now,” explains Rodgers. “Everybody is getting despondent and too much angry music can wear down your soul. I wanted to write at least some tracks on this EP that made people feel safe, like they could go home and listen and feel protected from the outside world.”

Ivory Towers’ EP Queller releases on all platforms November 16.