Purity Ring: Ungirthed

We speak to the experimental duo about their forthcoming debut album on 4AD and their visceral love songs

When Corin Roddick and Megan James first decided to make music together as a sideline to touring with electronic party punx Gobble Gobble, they didn't have a plan. "We're a lot slower", James admits when we sit down to discuss Purity Ring's atmospheric Hip Hop/gloom pop.

Everything I do has a tinge of violence. Like, my entire life. I'm always a little bit visceral or shocking. I think all of the songs contain things like that.

In contrast to a 'more is more' approach to mixtapes and features, last year saw Purity Ring release just two limited 7"s ('Ungirthed') now goes for over £100), but it's been worth the wait. Below, they talk about their magnificent debut album 'Shrines', released on July 24 on 4AD, and why Rihanna's more of an influence than the cloud rap cohort.

Dazed Digital: Why call the record 'Shrines'?
Megan James:
I think it's pretty literal. We feel like it's actually like a collection of shrines. It's been a pilgrimage!

DD: Your new single 'Fineshrine' uses the idea of shrines in a very bodily, visceral way. 'Cut into my sternum.'
Megan James: Actually I think 'Fineshrine' is a love song. Love is kind of visceral isn't it?

DD: But that love has a tinge of violence.

Megan James: Definitely. Everything I do has a tinge of violence. Like, my entire life. I'm always a little bit visceral or shocking. I think all of the songs contain things like that. I mean, it's describing body parts and stuff, but it's a matter of exploration and adventure.

DD: Well, the 'Belispeak' video took that exploration into Fantasy territory.
Megan James:
Yeah. I'm into fairy fantasy, and I really like Lord of The Rings. I definitely value that world.

DD: And it's easier to express everyday emotions like love and relationships by appropriating tropes from that world?
Megan James: Yeah, the best way for me to express those things is by creating a world myself. That's what I'm interested in doing, or what I am doing.

DD: What did you think you'd sound like when you started out?
Megan James: We didn't ever talk about what we'd sound like, but I play the piano and Corin plays the drums, so we just expected we'd play our respective instruments.

DD: What was on your moodboard?
There's influence from all the things I've listened to in my life, obviously. I listen to music really critically and really pick apart the things that I like. The drum and percussion programming of our music is fairly Hip Hop influenced, but at the time I started making it I wasn't really listening to Hip Hop at all.

DD: But you'd listened to it in the past?
Yeah, I'd really enjoyed Hip Hop when I was quite young. Like, 11 or 12. Pretty much just what was on the radio, like Aaliyah, TLC and old Destiny's Child. When I started to program my own electronic music I just naturally went back to those things. I wasn't really thinking about it, they were just some of the things that stuck with me. It's synthetic but it's also a groove.

DD: So it must be weird when people compare you to, say, The Knife.
Yeah, because of our vocal manipulations. I think The Knife are a really good band, but I wouldn't cite them as an influence. There's lots of recent mainstream music that has lots of cool pitched-down effects and autotune, and I think it came way more from that.

DD: What mainstream stuff do you rate?
I really liked Rihanna's last record, there's about six or seven tracks on there that are really strong. And 'Climax' by Usher is one of the best-produced songs I've heard in a while, it's so good.

DD: It's interesting that you arrived at your sound independently, and so did someone like Clams Casino or A$AP Rocky.
I think people are just figuring out things that sound good right now! [both laugh]. A group of people are progressing into this sweet futuristic pop mangleation!

DD: Would you secretly like to be a pop star and have a million-dollar video?
I think Megan would!
Megan James: Hmm. Maybe.
Corin: I'd like to be behind the scenes.