By this point fans of ambient electronic music will have likely heard of “Purity Ring” — it would be hard not to. The Edmonton-based band, composed of vocalist Megan James and beat producer Corin Roddick, has been active since 2010 and has collaborated with Danny Brown, Angel Haze, and Ab-Soul. The self-described “future pop” duo are known for combining ethereal and atmospheric instrumentals with a youthful, innocent vocal delivery. Their debut album, Shrines, ended up on many critics’ best album lists in 2012, and earlier this year they followed it up with a sophomore album titled Another Eternity. The band is currently on their fall tour throughout North America and Europe, but amidst their busy schedule, The Varsity had the chance to speak with Megan James before they left Toronto.
The Varsity: You’ve described your music as “future pop,” what does that mean exactly?
Megan James: “It’s a good excuse for not having to call yourself something. It’s kind of something we’ve gone back to just because it doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s really hard to define yourself in a genre and if you can call it the ‘future,’ then it doesn’t really matter because it could be anything.”
TV: When I first listened to Another Eternity, I could hear a difference production-wise and lyrically, in comparison to Shrines. What direction were you going for while making the new album?
MJ: “We tried for a long time to talk about what we wanted to make, what we wanted it to sound like, and where we would take inspiration from. But in the end, once we got together to actually write and make the things we thought we wanted to, it never really worked. We’d always hit a wall and it’d be really frustrating. [Our album] didn’t really start to work until we let go of any ideas of what we wanted [our sound] to be, and made what we felt was challenging yet we were capable of.”
TV: What are some of your biggest influences when it comes to making music?
MJ: “In terms of production, I know Corin has quite a lot of hip-hop influences. I like a few songs here and there but I’m not as inspired by [hip-hop]. I appreciate it, and of course, I love Corin’s production, but it’s kind of interesting, because my vocals are an interesting mesh with a rapper. That’s why we were so stoked about the Danny Brown collaboration — because it was a juxtaposition that worked really well.”
TV: Who are some artists that you’d like to collaborate with?
MJ: “We’ve become friends with so many musicians that we’ve loved for a long time — [the band] “HEALTH” being an example. We’ve always done little things with people who make music that’s inspiring to us, and we’re going on tour with “Empress Of,” who’s also done a remix [of one of our songs]. Why not work with your friends and put out each other’s things? It’s a community.”
TV: Do you have any advice for those aspiring artists trying to get their music out?
MJ: “I think having your music be the driving force instead of your success trying to be the driving force is the only way that you’ll be able to be satisfied with what you make. Whether other people hear it or not, if you’re making what you want to make, you can’t really go wrong. I know it’s really obvious but I’ve seen so many people try to make something that’ll ‘work’ and I think it’s wasteful if you’re not making something you love.”