Leiko Ikemura, Sven ‘t Jolle, Mai-Thu Perret, Sophie von Hellermann & Sybren Vanoverberghe
Megan and Corin from Purity Ring don’t wear purity rings: they have a long-distance work relationship. While Megan writes the lyrics for the band in Halifax, Corin produces beats in Montreal, resulting in Shrines (4AD), a mysterious and engaging pop album full of alternately ecstatic outbursts and cutesy ethereal coos that glide through chopped beats and trembling synths.
‘She’d be wearing a jacket and necklaces and no underpants? Yes, a breezy bottom is what we like.’
Interview by Brenda Bosma, photos shot by Nick Helderman in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
As this is ‘The Naked Issue’ I must ask: have you ever seen each other naked?
We haven’t actually. It’s not something that I would be hoping to happen. I’m sure if the situation presents itself accidentally, we wouldn’t be awkward. It would just be normal. It’s not really a big deal. Megan and me were friends a couple of years before we started the band in 2010. Now we’re still friends, but also band mates. You could say that we’re like brother and sister. We definitely argue a lot like siblings.
So no John and Yoko inspired band pictures?
We were hoping to do a centrefold in the magazine…
We can think about it of course.
About your working method. You live on opposite sides of Canada. Why did you decide to work together? I mean, that’s a pretty huge distance. What’s the secret there?
It works pretty well, because our roles in the band are so independent. I exclusively just make the music and Megan writes the lyrics and does the vocals. We are able to do those things quite separately. Then at some point we get together and work on them. We’re not like a rock band that jams out and creates a song while playing their instruments. That’s just not something we need to do. We talk about the songs on the phone and email back and forth. Every song ends with us actually getting together and working on the final part together. Before that a lot of it is done separately.
You don’t interfere with each other’s role?
Not so much. Sometimes when we get together we can conclude that something one of us is doing doesn’t work. But it’s hard for us to criticise each other’s parts, because we don’t know enough about each other’s field of expertise. I’m not a lyricist at all and Megan doesn’t know how to produce music, so it kind of works out that way.
If you were to compare your working method with dressing a mannequin, what would the doll be wearing?
I would probably choose a very nice jacket. I just like jackets a lot. Megan would most likely dress her up in jewellery. Yeah, a lot of it around her neck.
So she’d be wearing a jacket and necklaces and no underpants?
Yes, a breezy bottom is what we like.
Megan really reveals herself in her lyrics. She sings quite personal stuff, like she’s reading from her journal. It also has a quite morbid side to it. When she first sent you her vocal recordings what did you think of the lyrics?
I know Megan, so I wasn’t surprised at all. I was already familiar with what she does. Also, I’m not really a big lyrics guy. I don’t get into them and analyse them. I gravitate more towards the melody of it.
But words do have a meaning; doesn’t that hit you somewhere in your brain?
Probably somewhere more subconsciously. I think Megan is a great lyricist and I know they are a bit peculiar, but I’d never attempt to analyse her lyrics.
So when she’s singing about stitching together new skin from gory remains of dead people, don’t you feel the need to ask her about it?
I let it be what it is. For me it’s more about the way it sounds, like the tone it creates with the sound of her voice and the syllables. The actual content just washes over me. I don’t really gravitate towards the lyrics. I mean, if I didn’t like the lyrics I would notice, but if I do like them I usually just kind of let them happen.
You chose the name Purity Ring for its pronunciation rather than its meaning, right?
It’s actually what the music has become. I think the music defines the name not the other way around. I like how crisp and clean ‘Purity Ring’ sounds in my head. That’s how I see our music; a clean crisp circle, stripped from its meaning.
Purity Ring play on 08 November at Trouw in Amsterdam. The show is free for Subbacultcha! members.