If you go
What: Purity Ring
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: The Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood, 303-788-0984
Cost: $18-$20
The negative stereotype of an electronic show involves musicians bent over laptops and synthesizers, absorbed with hitting the right buttons at the right times and unengaged with the audience. Not so for Purity Ring.

Any electronic act will compensate for a rollicking stage presence with lighting, but it's usually nothing you haven't seen before. Corin Roddick and Megan James thought a lot harder about it, got creative and did it themselves with mesmerizing results that match the hypnotizing effect of their music as Purity Ring.

“From the very beginning, lighting has always been a really important part of our show,” Roddick said. “We wanted to have a way to make the show entertaining and to create a mood for the audience, so even before our first show, we were kind of brainstorming this DIY method that we had to use lighting to create these moods. As time has gone, on we've gained more resources and grown the overall goal of that.


The current manifestation (which you can get a detailed exploration of in their Creator's Project video) is an elaborate, on-stage display that surrounds the pair with a display of “cocoon-type things” that are responsive to the music.

Oddly enough, the professionally constructed display is not far from Purity Ring's original lighting. It doesn't look the same, but the music-responsive, DIY aesthetic remains.
Purity Ring.
Purity Ring. (Courtesy photo/Kate Garner)

“Behind us, we had these big sheets of particle fabric with construction lights behind it. They were programmed with Ableton so they'd respond,” Roddick said. “It was really simple but effective and people seemed drawn to it. We had a bunch of copper and brass tubes attached to it and I was able to play the songs using that.”

But enough about the lighting. It makes for a heightened experience at the shows, but Purity Ring's music is enthralling on it's own. 2012's Shrines was very well received by critics and fans. It's dreamy, electronic pop infused with hip hop and R&B that their 4AD label pegs as “lullabies for the club.” It's no surprise that the duo is influence by hip hop.

“I've always been really drawn to the rhythms in hip hop music -- the use of certain drum sounds, 808s and things like that,” Roddick said. “But I was also listening to other genres at the time that weren't hip hop.”

That love really shone in Purity Ring's recent cover of Soulja Boy's “Grammy.” He might not be a highly regarded rapper, but the track was enough to capture Roddick and James, and they created a beautiful cover that they're still playing on tour.

The key to keeping Shrines from sounding derivative was experimentation. Those copper and brass tubes on stage are just one extension of that. The toying around that goes on in the studio is what makes the record interesting.

“When we made Shrines, we were experimenting as much as we could and trying different sounds. We created a sound palette and we've done a lot with that,” Roddick said.

They'll keep it up when they get to work on the next album. Roddick says the ideas are floating around, though because they're touring, they haven't sat down to really start working.

“I've been thinking it could go one way or another. I think, generally, we'll really build on what we've already done, but also try and experiment a lot more and create a lot of new sounds that we haven't tried yet,” he said. “Next time around, we're going to do something differently for sure. You'll be able to tell it was us because we wrote the melodies, but from a production standpoint, we're going to try different things.”

Once the tour ends -- and it only just began this week -- Roddick and James will head back toward the studio. For now, though, there's no rush when they can put on the kind of show they do. Don't miss the otherworldly set at The Gothic Theatre this Monday.