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Purity Ring wants to leave audiences wanting more

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Some bedroom electronic music producers have a tough time making the jump to a live setting, but Corin Roddick always thought about how the music would translate live when working on his Purity Ring project.

"It was challenging because it's electronic music and it's hard to play electronic music live -- you have to be creative with it. That was challenging, but I didn't ever intend to keep it in my bedroom," Roddick says on a cellphone while driving to Vancouver to kick off a western Canadian tour.

"I had played in lots of different bands before so when I was writing the music I was thinking about how to play it live."

Roddick grew up in Edmonton and played drums in several hardcore bands before joining the electro-pop group Gobble Gobble. He eventually decided he wanted to compose his own music and enlisted Megan James to handle vocals on the song Ungirthed.

The track was posted online on the Purity Ring Tumblr page in January 2011 with the declaration, "We are birthed," and it caused a sensation among bloggers, online music publications and the hipster nerds at Pitchfork.com.

"It's a hard thing to pinpoint when something blows up on the internet. There's no science. There's no real answer. I think generally it (Ungirthed) just has something fresh about it.

"If you're someone that goes through Soundcloud all day and suddenly you come across one song, your ears will perk up and go, 'It's the most original stuff I heard all day.' That happens to me if I'm looking for new music. I listen for five seconds, then next, next until I find something good," he says.

The single was released by indie label/blog Transparent and the seven-inch quickly sold out as buzz built. More singles followed until the band attracted the attention of famed British label 4AD (Grimes, Blonde Redhead, the National) who released Purity Ring's debut album, Shrines, in July.

While working on the album, Roddick, 22, moved to Montreal and James, 24, moved to Halifax, so he would compose the music and email it to James, who would add lyrics to the demos and send the song back.

The duo would get together to complete the tracks, so it wasn't all done independently, Roddick says.

"We have to get to together in the same room and talk about it and work on it," he says.

The album has attracted attention not only for the glitchy and intense futuristic electro-pop nature of the music, but James' poetic/abstract vocals, which are dark, haunting and violent.

"I think her lyrics are amazing, but I don't try to analyze them. I'm not really a lyrics guy. I can recognize when the lyrics are good or bad, but to me, lyrics are more so a vessel for melody and mouth noise," Roddick says.

Local fans will get to hear the music and lyrics themselves when Purity Ring stops in Winnipeg tonight at the West End Cultural Centre with Evian Christ and Headaches. Admission is $13.

The show was moved to the WECC from the Lo Pub after it closed suddenly last month.

The new venue means Purity Ring will have room to hang its cocoon lanterns -- they interact and pulse with the music, which Roddick performs on a custom instrument featuring eight touch-sensitive lanterns made up of LED lights and cloth connected to a synthesizer he hits with mallets and drum sticks.

The performance aspect is something he was influenced in by his time in other bands, along with his decision to keep songs and performances short and tight to avoid drifting off on some wandering tangent.

"Keeping songs short and to the point and not letting things get redundant is a punk rock thing, along with short, energetic sets," he says.

"I never want to watch a band play more than half an hour. We don't play much longer than that. We want people to be excited, not standing there for an hour and saying, 'It's good, but I already got my fill.'"

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 13, 2012 E6

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