Hailing from Edmonton, Canadian electronic pop duo Purity Ring made a splash with their debut album Shrines. The release was a document of Corin Roddick and singer Megan James’ long distance collaboration, as well as Corin’s electronic music experimentation and exploration. Made entirely at home, the band’s third (and most recent) release, WOMB, debuted at number one on the electronic music charts. I sat down with Corin to discuss the making of both Shrines and WOMB, as well as his experiences with long-distance recording and happy accidents.

What was your first experience recording? Were you in bands in high school?

I first got interested in recording around the age of 12 or 13. I had some janky software on my terrible computer. I started trying to do remixes of whatever music I was listening to at the time. That didn’t work out very well; I was so limited with what I was working with. From there, I wanted to check out some microphones and how to use a proper DAW. I played in a lot of bands and was making music through junior high and high school. A lot of my friends knew me as the guy who had some recording gear in his basement, so I ended up being the person who was recording all the demos and various things for people I knew in my school and around the city. I kept going with that, and after I graduated high school I started working at a local studio as an engineer, even though I didn’t have any formal training. I was still trying to figure it out as I went.

Were you recording whatever came through the door?

Whatever was available. A lot of it was word-of-mouth from friends of mine who were in bands. This was in Edmonton, Alberta. There’s a decent local music scene, but it’s quite isolated as a city. It’s not like people are going to travel there to work at a studio. It was slim pickings, in a way. I would record anything that was willing to pay the bills. I ended up working on a lot that I wasn’t exactly excited about. But, from time to time, I would get to work on some music made by my friends that I would be more excited about.

Was Purity Ring’s first album, Shrines, your first attempt at making an electronic-focused record?

Well, yeah. I had a background already in recording, but it was almost entirely based around recording acoustic drums, guitars, pianos, and that kind of thing. I had always been interested in electronic music. I’d admired sounds that I’d heard in records and didn’t know how they were made. But once I got my hands on a copy of Ableton [Live], I started dabbling with that. I was on tour with my friend’s band at the time, when I was 18 or 19, and I had a lot of time to myself on the road. As we were driving from city to city, I was trying to learn the ins and outs of Ableton; messing around with making some beats. I knew a little bit about how to use EQ, reverb, and compression, which made it so that tracks started to sound passable more quickly than if I had no prior experience with working with audio. I started to get into electronic production and scratch the surface of it. Some of those first tracks I made ended up on the Shrines record.

What were you listening to at that time?

I loved Björk. Her album Vespertine has a lot of glitchy, textured synth mixed with more organic harp and piano. That’s a record that I listened to all the time when I was in high school. I was listening to a lot of Radiohead. The Kid A record has a lot of unique electronic sounds. I had never heard anything like that before, so that made me want to get into it. I love a lot of R&B and hip-hop, and all of that was made on [Akai] MPCs and samplers, so that general workflow of chopping sounds up and programming drums appealed to me.

Were you creating your own samples? What was your approach to making Shrines?

It was honestly a lot of experimenting with not much of a plan. I was using manipulated vocals as samples to create the backbone and texture of tracks. That was the first breakthrough I had, that I could take little snippets of vocals and chop them up and turn those into pieces that stitched the beat together. The other component of it – and it took some messing around to get there – was realizing that it worked well with more...

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