Pop Music

Purity Ring Prepares for "Intimate" Show at Mission

Canada's Purity Ring makes brooding electronic pop.
Canada's Purity Ring makes brooding electronic pop. Courtesy Carson David Brown
Corin Roddick and Megan James, the duo behind Canadian electronic pop band Purity Ring, are ready to invite American audiences into their “living room,” as the two are currently touring the U.S. for the first time in seven years.

“We want [concerts] to feel like you're in the living room with us. We want our shows to be intimate and have the audience feel like they are not separate from the stage. It’s sort of like a diorama. We want people in the venue to feel like they're in it with us,” James explains.

Purity Ring is bringing its "tour de womb" to Denver on Saturday, June 11, at the Mission Ballroom, with EKKSTACY opening.

Roddick, a multi-instrumentalist and producer, is responsible for the propulsive beats Purity Ring has become known for in EDM-centric circles, while James disperses her sometimes somber lyrics poetically throughout the songs. The contrast between them makes for intriguing music that allows listeners to latch onto the upbeat groove or James’s whispering words and delivery.

“We have this juxtaposition always where it's confusing and hopefully captivating, where it's like, which is up or down? And it's up to the individual to decide where they fit in any pieces that they hear, what they think it's about,” James says. "I really like that. People hear the crossroads that we make."

One of Purity Ring’s more popular songs, “Fineshrine,” is certainly a love song, with its swooning meter and overall message of deep affection. But the lyrics only get more morbid the more you listen to it. Take the chorus, for example: "Cut open my sternum and pull / My little ribs around you / The lungs of me be crowns over you."

It reads like a Rupi Kaur poem, but Purity Ring’s brand of pop makes its music less depressing and more appealing, as though maybe mutual mutilation were the secret to a happy relationship after all.

James admits that most of her lyrics are from personal experiences and journals more than anything else, particularly on earlier material, but she’s embraced different methods of writing, including trying to write words to Roddick’s beats and assessing “the vibe.”

“If it's like a really bright sound...[I'm] intentionally trying to write lyrics that are equally bright and positive-sounding,” she says, adding that she “kind of ran out” of diary material. “For [2012 debut album] shrines, I was keeping avid journals every day. I wrote poetry and whatever fell out of me, but now I feel like I can be more intentional with lyrics and still feel like it's me.”

James and Purity Ring continue on that path on the band’s latest EP, graves. Released this month, the album clocks in at just under twenty minutes across seven songs, and showcases the band’s signature sound.

“We put a lot of focus on our albums as a whole, so they're like a cohesive world that someone can enter into. I really hope that's what happens when people listen to them — like they’re delving into this strange part of Corin and I, that we turned into these beautiful sounds,” James says. “There are a lot of people who can write songs about other people and it can be really emotive and convincing. I've tried to do that, but for me, writing is very much something that comes from things that I experienced and feel like sharing. ... I just hope that people feel something that they’re connected to in this thing that we take so much care in making. It's a world that you could enter, down to the artwork.”

The real world is still a weird place right now, as the pandemic isn’t necessarily over, but Purity Ring is trying to navigate it during this tour as well as possible, which is why James urges fans to mask up during concerts.

“We're getting back into the wild, but it's truly the wild. This pandemic is not over. We put it off and put it off, canceling the tour so many times, entirely for safety reasons. Now we are in a position where we kind of have to go,” James says. “The longer we don't do it, the longer we aren’t working. As most people know, touring is the main source of income for artists.”

Purity Ring plays the Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop Street, at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 11. Tickets are $28.50-$83.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.