What's Inside Purity Ring's Interactive Light Cocoons?
By the time Canadian duo Purity Ring released their debut album Shrines, internet audiences were already obsessed with their glitchy and spellbinding futuristic pop music. The internet served as an incubator for both their songs and their fan base—Corin Roddick composed beats in Montréal and sent them to Megan James in Halifax, who then added her shimmering soprano and twisted fairytale lyrics and sent the results back to Roddick, who finalized the songs and uploaded them to Tumblr, where a rabid community of fans quickly formed. Using Tumblr as a distribution platform, listeners could download the tracks for free and disseminate them over social media, and it wasn't long before the tracks went viral—“Obedear," their fourth song, reached 40,000 views on YouTube less than two days after it was released.
A year and a half later and Purity Ring were playing to huge crowds at SXSW, Pitchfork Festival, and Pop Montreal and went on to do a sell-out tour. For artists whose mobility on stage is limited by being tethered to electronic instruments that are still largely incomprehensible to typical audiences, translating the emotional connection of their recorded material into an engrossing live show can be a challenge. Roddick's previous band, Gobble Gobble, dealt with this by having band members act as hype men—dressed in tutus and fairy wings (and not much else), Roddick and company ran into the crowd, dancing up a frenzy. Purity Ring, though, went for a chiller approach.
On their last tour, the duo teamed up with Vancouver-based sensory installation producers Tangible Interaction, who also designed the light-up zygotes for Arcade Fire's Summer Into Dust performance, to create a series of light cocoons, which they explain in the video above.
We also caught up with Roddick and Tangible Interaction's Creative Director Alex Beim to break down both the stage show and the broader idea of how to make electronic music feel organic in the interview below.
Purity Ring perform "Belispeak" at Pitchfork Music Festival 2012
Corin Roddick: Rock music is made on drums and guitars, so you can watch someone recreate it on stage on instruments. But with electronic music that's made strictly on a laptop, you can't really watch someone in the original environment that they created it. Or you could, but I don't think it would be very stimulating. So you have to go above and beyond and find different means of actually creating a show.
It's funny, with DJ culture, people aren't looking at a DJ, they're dancing. But when you put the DJ into a band context and it's just a room of people staring at them, suddenly it gets super weird. Something needed to be done about it.
Setup 1. Photo by Steve Louie.
The first version was for the first few months we were playing shows. The idea was to have an instrument that could be played percussively, like with mallets, but would send signals that would connect to a synthesizer or multiple synthesizers and would make the noise I wanted but also give visual feedback. The first one we made was just a bunch of copper and brass pipes stuck together kind of in a tree all over the place. It was a good first attempt but it didn't always work the way we wanted it to.
Welcome to Koch Boyz, Where We Document What French Montana and the Koch Brothers Are Up To
Welcome to Koch Boyz, a column dedicated to any time the Koch Brothers and French Montana do anything within a few days of each other.
Watch Mark McGuire's Pretty Personal Video for "The Human Condition"
Former Emeralds guitarist incorporates footage from his Dad's "celebrity roast" back in 89...
Listen to a Preview of Julian Casablancas' New Solo LP
The Strokes frontman teases us with what's to come under his new guise Julian Casablancas + The Voidz.
Dum Dum Girls - "Are You Okay" (By Bret Easton Ellis, Official Short Film)
The Dum Dum Girls team up with Bret Easton Ellis in this anxious tale of chilling neurosis. Plus a very personal interview with Dee Dee.
Inside Icona Pop's Wardrobe on Miley's Bangerz Tour
How can you compete with Miley's tongue? By dressing like a cyber warrior from future planet called Awesome.
Listen to an Unreleased Unwound Track, and Read Our In-Depth Interview
Numero Group has taken it upon themselves to give the cult band the historical treatment they deserve.
Real Estate: The Atlas of New Jersey
The band opens up about being called a beach band and how the internet is ruining our lives.
Babymetal Is Your New Favorite Japanese Nü-Metal Girl Group
Meet the teens who have been sent to destroy you.
Every Time Your Band Does An Encore, A Puppy Dies
And other reasons why encores are terrible.
Eiffel 65 Are the Fathers to Your Style Even If You're Too Much of a Dick to Admit It
The dude who wrote "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" explains why having one hit is better than having none hits.