We spoke with Sarah Versprille of Pure Bathing Culture about touring with Death Cab and Chvrches and recording their newest record Pray For Rain.
You just went out on a big tour with Death Cab for Cutie and Chvrches, two very established groups. How did your time with them help you grow as a band in terms of creativity, band dynamic, and playing on the road?
It was truly an honor to open for two totally incredible bands - seriously inspiring! It was exciting to get a chance to play in such huge spaces and feel the energy of the crowds that fill them. The audiences were super welcoming to us, which was awesome. It was interesting and really edifying to get a chance to feel how much needs to come from us as performers to impact spaces that large. Also, on that same note really inspiring to see how Chvrches and Death Cab work within those spaces to connect with the people in the audience. It really helped us to understand how much we can do and also what we might be able to achieve from a performance perspective.
How has your time in Portland impacted your creativity? Is there an element of the city that's reflected in your songwriting?
We get this question a lot! I think we used to feel like it was a hard one to answer because a lot of how we feel about being here and being held by this city is super personal and hard to put into words, but it’s really been an amazing container for us to develop. We’ve been here for 6 years now (which is crazy to think about!) and we have really grown incredibly attached to most everything about living here. There is something about this place that allows for what feels like a deep connection to our surroundings. It’s almost like the birds sing louder and sweeter and the trees whisper intangibles clearer.
I discovered your music through your video for "Ivory Coast." The video is absolutely beautiful and one that stands out in my mind as a perfect complimentary visual component of a song. What role do video/visuals play in your songwriting?
Thank you! The video for "Ivory Coast" stands out for us as well in so many ways. Making it was definitely an example of a group of really talented people coming together on a vision and working intensely to achieve it. We’re so grateful to the team that worked on it and we are super proud of it. Sometimes when we’re writing a song really clear visuals come through. For example, sometimes we get a really clear picture in our minds of something from our past - the way the alley behind the house looked with the basketball hoop or the way the two twin maple trees in the front yard were so similar but one was way harder to climb than the other. We hope that people who hear our music feel like they can see something in their minds that reminds them of simpler time in their lives where the things that mattered most were smells and sounds and freedom and love.
What moments have made you believe you could really move forward and make this project something serious in a career sense?
We’re lucky to have had a lot of people support and encourage us along the way. The first person was Richard Swift. We played him an early demo of our song "Lucky One" and he encouraged us to write more songs and also offered to record us. This encouragement led us to the West Coast and started us on this path. Just a little bit after that was Jessi Frick from Father/Daughter Records who took a chance on us and released our EP back in 2012. As we’ve kept going, it feels like we are supported more and more by people who discover our music and let us know how much it means to them. Getting a chance to connect with people and to hear how they feel about the music is pretty much the most rewarding thing we’ve experienced.
What things would you say motivate or inspire you to write? What ways do you motivate yourself to be creative?
Daniel is our motivator. The songs come from him and when he has one, he brings it to me and we work on finishing it together. From my perspective, he is always motivated to be creative and his brain works in ways I can only begin to comprehend. It is endlessly inspiring and exciting to work with him on our music.
You've worked with some great producers like Richard Swift and John Congleton. I assume there were some big differences recording with them for Moon Tides and Pray For Rain than for the recording of your first EP. How did working with those guys impact your sound, songwriting, or career in general?
One thing that was consistent in working with both Richard and John was how quickly we recorded and mixed both Moon Tides and Pray for Rain. Both of those records were completed in about 10 days, recorded and mixed. We’ve learned so much from both incredibly talented guys! It’s really inspiring and interesting to make something in our little incubator and then bring it to someone else and have something reflected back. We talk about completion a lot between the two of us and looking back on the recordings we’ve made, we just feel really proud of the work and really fortunate to have worked with people who brought so much talent and perspective to our music.
You've played some big festivals, gone on lengthy tours with great acts playing in the best venues around, and released several well-received albums. What's next for a band that's achieved these milestones? Any new releases you're working on? Tours planned?
We’ve finished writing our next record! We’re going on tour in March on the West Coast, playing some headlining shows and also three shows with Death Cab For Cutie. We’ll hopefully be finishing our next record in the spring and also maybe some more touring this summer. We’re excited for what the future holds!