Canadian duo Purity Ring will be releasing their long awaited new album toward the end of February called Another Eternity, and just before all of the release-mayhem begins, we were offered a chance to speak with one-half of the P-Ring, Corin.
Where are you guys, and what are you up to today?
We’re currently out here in L.A. because we’re trying to develop a new live show, so yeah we’re just working on that. It’s a good place for us to come work with people and get things done because there are just a lot of resources out here.
It really seems to be a trend among creative people that inspiration might not strike until some ridiculous hour of the morning; is this the case for you?
Yeah, I can definitely relate. I’ll spend the better part of a day trying to be creative and come up with something. Then, probably when I’m starting to get tired, it’s like “oh there it is.”
So then do you find that sometimes you might have to force the creative process, or do you let it flow as much as you can?
I’d say it’s really both…I won’t force anything that doesn’t seem to be working, but I do force myself to start ideas in the first place. I won’t be sitting down doing something else and then come up with an idea that I want to go try, I always start ideas by messing around with things – messing around with synths, or chopping up samples, a number of things. So I have to force myself to mess around with things for a really long time until suddenly there might be a moment where I’m like “oh, that actually sounds pretty cool,” then I’ll try build off of that, and hopefully that flows naturally. But if it doesn’t feel like it’s flowing, I’ll immediately stop working on it.
I think once you kind of start working on a song, and you have to force that to make the song come together, for me at least, it doesn’t usually turn out that well. I have hundreds of little beginnings of songs, sometimes I won’t even bother saving them.
Do you ever regret not saving some of those ideas?
I just let it go and 10 minutes later I can’t even remember what it was [laughs]. I don’t want to end up with a huge library of song starts that don’t make the cut, because it just clogs up your hard drive. I could go back and listen through them, but I’m probably just going to remember how I didn’t like it before. I’d rather just completely just start blank canvas again, and not have some previous thing I was trying to accomplish.
How do you handle that workflow when it comes to deadlines, like with the new album, does it put much pressure on you guys?
Well we didn’t really have a hard deadline. Closer to the end we did, but through the beginning and the middle processes of working on the record, we really just took the time we needed. Sometimes weeks would go by where we wouldn’t come up with anything new that was actually usable.
So you’re pretty comfortable with that now?
Yeah. If do you have a deadline, it sucks and it gets stressful for sure, but we took pretty much a full year. Once we had the song ideas mostly there, we set ourselves a deadline and said, “alright lets wrap them up in the next month or two.” We were able to pull that off, because once things are in motion, I can continue them on quite easily. It’s just the process of getting things in motion in the first place that is always difficult for me.
What stage of the songwriting process will Megan get involved in? Does she often help from the start of the production process?
We don’t really have any set routine. There were some songs on the album that started from a loop idea that might have had some synth sounds or samples that turned into a song. There was one where I recorded Megan playing piano for about 20 minutes, and then we went back to the file afterwards and looked at parts of it and moved it around, and built a song around it. Other times she would have a vocal part she would sing and we’d build a song around that. Other times again, I would have more of a fleshed out idea musically, and she would have vocals that were set for that already. We tried to come at songs from lots of different angles this time, because I think it creates a more varied and dynamic album. I think every time you make a song in a different way, it’s likely to affect the sound of it and the arrangement.rd.
Do you guys have ideas leftover from this album?
We definitely have a few ideas from the album process that we really liked but we just couldn’t figure out how to complete them. I think there’s a good chance that we might finish that stuff at some point, and maybe it’ll be on a future album, or maybe it’ll be a single that we’ll drop for no reason. Maybe we’ll try do some collaborations, like we did before, working with some hip-hop artists.
Speaking of, what was it like working with Danny Brown?
That was cool! Danny is really easy to work with. We’d actually written another song with him…not many people know this, but he wanted us to do a song for his record – which we submitted to him, he did his verses and everything on it – and right before the deadline when he needed the song to be sent for mixing, we all collectively decided that it wasn’t very good [laughs]. Sometimes when you’re trying to finish something quickly, it’s easy for it to get away from you, and maybe you’re so focused on trying to finish it that you don’t have the time to realise whether or not it’s quality material. So we suddenly decided the song wasn’t very great, and actually quite quickly put together the song that actually ended up being on his record. It was funny how that one turned out, it was a very last minute thing where we were all like, “wait, not that song, we need a new song!” That one came together in a much more natural way than the first one.
What do you use in the studio in terms of instrumentation and making sounds?
I work in a program called Ableton, and I have a lot of different resources I’m messing around with trying to create things that are exciting. I try to work with different elements, different synths, or different drum samples every time to maybe strike on some new inspiration. I use a lot of software synths, and this thing that Ableton brought out called Push. It was really helpful for me to use that, because previously on the last album I made everything just using the keypad on the laptop.
With one octave!?
That’s really all you need, I like having limitations like that, it’s fun. It was nice this time it was nice to work with a controller that had more possibilities for me to create chords and stuff like that. So that was cool, I think it helped me expand my sound.
So you find that the Push is a really good songwriting tool?
I think it really is, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t know a lot about music theory like myself. Megan knows more about music theory, but I generally don’t even know what notes I’m playing [laughs].
Could have fooled me!
I think it’s common these days for young producers to just get their hands on stuff and start working, and I think that’s cool because they’re more likely to arrive at an interesting idea if you they don’t know the actual science behind it. But I found that Ableton Push was really helpful for me because you can set the buttons to be preset scales or preset chord formations. Basically it lays out all the notes that work in a song, whereas before I would kind of be hitting every note and trying to find the ones I wanted.
Do you try and explore more musically technical concept that you might hear other artists use?
I think maybe I do some of that stuff, but if I do, it’s purely accidental. I would never set out to be like, “oh a key change might be cool.” I never want to think of something technical then try to accomplish that with music, because that’s how music starts to sound academic, or like its meant to have a mathematical purpose. I don’t know enough about those things to really plan it even if I wanted to.
But with the Push you can just “jam” and see where it takes you?
It’s more of a time saver for me than anything, because of how it lays out the notes, then I don’t have to spend time hitting every note on a keyboard trying to figure it out. It’s super helpful for me, and saves me a lot of time.
How much time would you say you normally spend on a track?
I don’t know, it’s really hard to say. I’ll usually work on something for a few months, but usually not exclusively. I’m not a fast producer, I’m used to working at my own pace and getting everything to be exactly how I want it, and that doesn’t come quickly. I know some other producers who can sit down and make like 5 beats in a day, but I’m definitely not one of those people.
I’ll let you go mate, thanks for the chat!
Thanks, you too. Take it easy!
Another Eternity will be out on February 27. Pre-order it now from iTunes.