If you go
What: Pure Bathing Culture
When: 9:30 p.m. Jan. 31
Where: hi-dive, 7 S. Broadway, Denver, 303-733-0230
More info: hi-dive.com
Music is often the product of an environment or the sound of a transition. In the case of Pure Bathing Culture's Moon Tides, both were true.
In 2011, guitarist Dan Hindman and keyboardist Sarah Versprille had a couple songs written, and they were planning trip to Oregon to record with producer Richard Swift. The lease was up on their Brooklyn apartment, and touring was keeping them away from New York most of the time, so they decided to just move to Portland.
"It wasn't a goal or a heavily preconceived thing," Hindman said. "It was just a moment where we were like, let's move out there. When we came out here is when the ball started rolling heavily. It just worked out really wonderfully."
The result was an EP and a record, Moon Tides, that sound warmer than the indie pop of Pure Bathing Culture's peers on the East Coast. It's in the clear tones of Versprille's voice and the dreamy guitar and keyboard work, but it's also very much in the lyrics. There's a sunny West Coast attitude instead of gloomy East Coast cynicism.
Moon Tides is a somewhat literal title, it turns out. There's mysticism all over the record — the sort of thing that has to be inspired by nature.
"The meaning, for us, is something more general than a super specific thing," Hindman said. "It's kind of two things coming together, really. We were thinking a lot of about the moon and symbolism involving the moon and the sort of mystery that can go along with that, and we were looking for some relationship: to come back to water, and we were thinking about the tides.
"It's a cyclical thing, and the record is about transition to us and coming full circle."
The not-quite-hippie vibe does set Pure Bathing Culture apart, which is pretty important as the pool of boy-girl duos making electronic pop or dream pop gets bigger. Still, they struggle like any other band to block out comparisons and categorizations while they write, trying not to let it influence the music they make.
"We understand why people look for certain catch phrases to refer to music, whether it's genre references like dream pop or the concept of duos, boy-girl duos, all kinds of things that can be useful to describe it. But at the same time, as an artist, you don't want your music to be pigeonholed in any way that's not just about the music," Hindman said. "We definitely struggled with comparisons to other bands, the duos. I don't know what to do about that."
As for how they maintain a distinction — well, it's murky. They try and they don't. It's intentional and it's natural.
"I think we are trying to find a way to convey warmth," Hindman said. "We're basically just trying to be honest, and there's something specific that happens when we work on music together. We could do a lot of things, but when we work together to write, there's something about that warmth."
He and Versprille are four or five songs into writing the next record, though he said he's not yet sure what direction it's going. This time, it'll be a product of experience instead of environment.
"Through doing the last batch of songs, we learned a little bit more about ourselves," he said. "The next record is going to be the result of that."