LYNN GUNN: FROM PVRIS WITH LOVE

Lynn Gunn
 Photographer: Michael Williams
Stylists: Farah Alimi and Tiffani Williams
Hair and Makeup: Sacha Harford

(Interview follows photo series)

T-shirt – Guess

Jacket – Joe Fresh

Blazer – Guess // Pants – Guess

T-shirt – Guess // Pant – Guess

Jacket – Joe Fresh // Pant – Guess

INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY RACHEL L. BERGMAN

Lynn Gunn calls herself an ‘art-maker for the eyes and ears’. She is mostly known for the music she makes with electro-pop/rock trio PVRIS, made up of Lynn (real name Lyndsey Gunnulfsen), Alex Babinski, and Brian MacDonald. Their sound has gone through a metamorphosis through the years starting as a hardcore metal band, switching over to more pop/rock and eventually adding the more electronic sounds they use now. This gradual change can be attributed to the wide variety of influences the band uses to craft their sound.

Here Lynn speaks with Imagista’s Michael Williams about the band’s evolution and art-making in general (you can see some of Lynn’s own artwork above) while on the band’s European tour in Germany.

Imagista: You’re on tour right now, right?

LG: Yes, We’re in Germany right now. We’re doing a bunch of shows in Europe.

Imagista: What has the response been like to your music since you’ve been there?

LG: It’s been pretty shocking. This is only our second time over here in Europe and a lot of the places we’ve been going to for the very first time. We’re touring with a band called Bring Me The Horizon. Usually with European tours it’s all about the headliners, so it’s weird being the no-name band and still seeing people singing along and getting into it. It’s been really crazy to see. And we’re going to be going back soon, so it’ll be cool to see the difference between now and then.

Imagista: That’s amazing! It must be really exciting for you. So how long is this tour you’re on?

LG: It’s about a month long. We head back home for the beginning of December.

Imagista: Tell me a bit of history about the band. How did you guys all first meet? Tell us a bit of the story of how you all came together.

LG: I started out in a band prior to this and I met all of those band mates in art classes and through marching band and concert band in high school. They kind of introduced me to heavier rock music and I started going to shows with them. Eventually they asked me to be in their band and I was like “hell yeah!” I played guitar and did a little bit of singing but not a lot. It was a pretty heavy rock band and through that I met Brian and Alex. They would go to shows at the venue where most of the scene was where we’re from in New Hampshire. We’re based out of Boston now. That older band used to play local shows all the time and eventually we went to make an EP but we lost a member, which was when we added Brian in. When we were in the studio we ended up going more towards the pop/rock route and we shifted the sound and shifted the members. It sounds like it happened very abruptly but it was actually quite gradually. Eventually that band turned into PVRIS as it is now, and here we are.

Imagista: How do you think the music scene where you come from influenced you in the long run? You either hear of bands that are very plugged in to the music community or bands, like Radiohead for example that exist kind of on their own. How do you think you guys fit into that?

LG: I think we took a lot of influence from our local scene growing up mentally, but definitely not sonically. We’re very isolated in that sense. Not a lot of people sound like we do now. We kind of came from a pop/punk/hardcore scene, essentially, and our manager is from a pop/punk/hardcore band and he kind of took us under his wing when we were first starting out. That was before he had even started managing us. A lot of other bigger bands at the time took us in and sort of watched out for us. There was definitely the mentality of being a family and having each other’s backs but still having to earn our stripes and prove ourselves while being the underdogs. We all have that mentality and carry it over to now when we tour. Our crew is very tight-knit. We took that influence with us mentally and I think sonically, we are inspired by our own interests and by what we listen to individually.

Imagista: What inspires you as an artist and what other musicians do you feel have influenced you and are sort of reference points for your music?

LG: I think we are a mix of different sounds. I think a big influence on all of us, unanimously, in terms of getting into music and picking up guitars in the first place is definitely this band called Moving Mountains. They’re a rock band that uses a lot of cool sounds and reverb. Another band that we all really loved is called Saosin and they had this awesome vocalist at one point called Anthony Green. Those are two huge influences on us as a band, as a whole. Personally, I really enjoy Florence and the Machine and Ellie Goulding. I like a lot of pop music, but also a lot of instrumental music like This Will Destroy You. What we listen to and take references from is kind of all over the place because we like to combine a lot of organic sound with electronic sounds. It’s hard to find that combination.

Imagista: On your Instagram your little tagline is “art-maker for the eyes and ears.” The ears part is obvious, but I really love your Instagram as well. Are these all your photographs?

LG: Yeah, everything aside from those that are credited to Sam, who is our tour photographer, are mine. I don’t consider myself a photographer whatsoever, but I do a lot of graphic design and sketching and pen and ink stuff when I have free time. I do all of the visual stuff for PVRIS, all our artwork all our t-shirts, and I come up with a lot of the visual concepts. I usually collaborate with our photographer.

Imagista: Is there anything coming up that you’d like to talk about?

LG: Well, we have a record out right now called White Noise that we’re really excited about.

Imagista: Where did you record that record?

LG: We recorded in Port St. Lucie, Florida where our friend has a studio. It was tiny, basically the size of a closet, but we made some magic in there. We worked pretty much nocturnally when we were making the record. We completely flip-flopped our sleeping schedule.

Imagista: What was the recording process like? How much time did you spend recording this album?

LG: We had a couple of months scattered out. We started it November into December 2013 and then went back in January and February, so it was probably about 3 months collectively.

Imagista: What is the writing process like and what is the arranging process like? Do you do that in the studio or before?

LG: I had a bunch of demos and snippets of songs on my laptop that I had been working on and I went to the studio about a week prior to the boys getting there and worked with Blake Harnage, our producer, on narrowing down which songs to use on the record and kind of finished them up and polished them off a bit. I actually did a lot of writing lyrically and vocally while in the studio but a lot of the instrumental parts were done that first week. It was kind of done backwards, but I think that gives the record its genuineness and rawness because a lot of it was done on the spot. We kind of had time for everything to breathe and happen on its own. It was really jumbled and weird, but I wouldn’t want to write any other way. That was something really cool about working with Blake. He really influenced us creatively to not box ourselves in or be afraid to take risks and really write what makes us happy. He really got us to not worry about expectation or how things are classically supposed to be structured. It has been really awesome working with him.

Imagista: Were there any challenges in transferring what came out of the studio to your live performances? Is there any discrepancy in the sound?

LG: That was a really big concern when we were making the record, because we have so many sounds layered in, and a lot of the sounds were very processed to get what we wanted which would just take forever to set up live. We all kind of jump around on different instruments live. The boys each play keys as well as guitar and bass and our drummer obviously his drum kit, but also a sample pad with a lot of electronic drum sounds. We also have another sample pad loaded with a lot of the sounds on the record that we can’t recreate live. There is a lot of switching around.