Interview: Pure Bathing Culture
Published on August 2nd, 2013 | Theo Gorst
For those who ceaselessly scour liner notes, the names Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille will no doubt sound familiar. Although Moon Tide marks the first LP the duo have made themselves, their impact can be seen on a multitude of terrific releases, be they by Foxygen, Damien Jurado or Vetiver.
Indeed with such an illustrious combined CV, it stands to reason that the first Pure Bathing Culture album – Moon Tides, released through Memphis Industries on August 19th – will be an enthralling affair. In truth it trumps all the aforementioned acts with whom the pair have collaborated, effortlessly creating a dreamy soundscape rich with natural imagery and immersive melodies.
Intrigued about the process behind making such a terrific record, and how exactly it will translate to a live setting (seeing as the band play their first U.K show on Spetember 25th at London’s Waiting Room), Rocksucker sent over some questions…
Congratulations on a terrific album. Moon Tides reminds me of Heaven or Las Vegas-era Cocteau Twins; was this a record you were listening to when making the album? Also which other LPs served as inspiration?
Thank you! We’re fans of the Cocteau Twins and Heaven or Las Vegas is a really wonderful record. It’s hard to say how or what we were listening to that specifically influenced the record, but some bands that have really influenced us are Durutti Column, the Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout…too many to name here.
The title is particularly distinctive. Why did you choose it?
We are deeply inspired by the relationship between the moon and the tides. Particularly in the sense that the tides and the ocean are comprised of water and the element water is often associated with human emotion. The moon in this case to us represents the subconscious intuitive mind and perhaps even the world of dreams and mystery.
We’re really turned on by the fact that there’s such a strong, in-depth scientific relationship between the two and also a whole world of interpretive symbolism.
How did the idea of the record come about? Do you still have an involvement with Vetiver?
The collaboration between the two of us happened organically, it wasn’t something we originally set out to do. Yes, we are still involved with Andy Cabic of Vetiver and hopefully we will continue to be.
It’s quite a different sound to other records you’ve played on, be that Vetiver, Foxygen or with Damien Jurado. Is this record the truest representation of your taste?
I wouldn’t say that this record is the truest identification of our taste so much as that it’s a collection of the first batch of songs that we’ve written together. It’s certainly a reflection of our taste, though. We’re excited to allow things to evolve over the writing and recording of the next album.
You have a large tour leading up to the record’s release. Do you have a preference over touring and recording?
They’re both really different. Writing and recording is where we’re being most creative and is certainly at the heart of the project, but playing live is really where we have an opportunity to “play music” and experience the energy that it creates, which then informs the process all over again.
The tracks are all quite multi-layered. How do you translate them to a live setting?
You’d be surprised, there actually aren’t that many tracks. Both the EP and the record were recorded really quickly and really minimally. Most of the sounds that people associate with being multi-layered or “drenched in reverb” are actually just single guitar parts but played through multiple delay pedals which creates a big wash of modulated chorus-like sound.
Nonetheless, translating the sound of the band to a live setting is definitely an altogether different thing than making records. It’s something that we’ve been having a tremendous amount of fun doing over the last 6 months and we’re so excited to get out and tour in support of the record.
You moved from New York before recording. Did you have the songs in mind at this point? They certainly aren’t tracks I’d associate with New York, they seem more in tune with nature. Did this influence your decision to move out of such a metropolis?
A couple of the songs on the EP were started while we were still living in Brooklyn, but pretty much everything else was finished after we moved to the West Coast. It wasn’t a goal that we had to make this grand exodus from the city and write songs about new age spirituality or anything like that, it just sort of happened that way.
The themes of nature and spirituality seem prevalent within the record. What made you interested in exploring these?
I think it’s just something that happened naturally in our lives and so it found a way out through the music.
How significant was producer Richard Swift’s role in the record?
Amidst all of Richard’s talents that he brought to the record, what is probably the most significant to us looking back on the process is that. from very early on, Richard was the person there telling us that what we were hearing and wanting to do musically – which at times could feel a little strange or embarrassing to us – was okay and valid and that we should do it.
It might sound simplistic, but it was incredibly important and empowering for us through the process and I think it’s an indication of how magical his intuition is.
Do you feel the LP differs from the EP?
The EP and the full-length are really part of the same era for us conceptually. The next record will be different and the beginning of something new.
The vocals seem to weave around the instrumentation, with both sounding equally important. Does this influence the songwriting process? Does one come before the other?
Often the music is composed before the lyrics. We’re very particular about arrangement and melody and though things are generally very simple and minimalistic, they are specific.
Can we expect any English tour dates?
Yes! Things are just coming together now, but we’ll definitely be in London on September 25th at The Waiting Room. We can’t wait to play over there.
Finally, if you could choose just five artists/bands to listen to for the rest of your days, who would they be?
Way too much pressure! Can’t answer this one.
Pure Bathing Culture, thank you.
Moon Tides will be released on August 19th through Memphis Industries.