In the midst of a typical, misty Portland winter, we’ve found ourselves in the ideal listening environment for Pure Bathing Culture. Hungry for more hazy electropop, we couldn’t help but wonder what’s next for the Portland-based indie dream-pop duo, who told us they'll be tapping into their intuition to see where it leads them.
While that somewhat vague and mysterious strategy would make any Type A person crawl out of their skin, it makes perfect sense for Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman -- a musical pair whose evolution has been partially dependent on happenstance and an air of enigmatic coincidence. To fully understand why, you have to start at the beginning. Over bagels, coffee and loud ‘50s blues music, the Portland-based best friends-turned-partners unraveled the story of how Pure Bathing Culture came to be, and where they are now.
In 1999, Versprille and Hindman met at freshman orientation at William Patterson University, and the two jazz obsessed 18-year-olds became instant friends.
“I think we bonded over my need for a ride in her cool 80s Volkswagen,” Hindman recalls.” I needed her to take me to the train station really bad.” Whether it was Hindman’s transportation needs, the pair’s shared musical preferences, or a combination of both, the two became inseparable.
“People in college would always be like ‘Is that your boyfriend?’ or, ‘Is that your brother?’ because we were together all the time,” remembers Versprille.
Rides to the train station turned into playing in all kinds of bands together, which turned into being roommates, which turned into being partners, in every sense of the word. So, when Versprille stumbled onto Hindman writing a new song one night while the two were touring with the indie-band, Vetiver, the natural reaction was to start working on it together -- thus marking the beginning of Pure Bathing Culture.
“I feel like in a lot of ways, it happened to us,” Versprille says. “The music started to reveal itself and we agreed that we wanted to work on it.”
Talking with Versprille and Hindman, you can feel the ease of two people whose relationship is rooted in complete trust -- almost like they're sharing a piece of their minds. Perhaps this is what lends to their unique writing style, based on a sixth-sense level of understanding and slew of universally relatable mystical characters.
“There’s something about the music that we both like and about the idea that we both want to express,” Versprille says. ”We desire to experience the same type of things.”
The two also discuss how it’s easier to write in terms of stories, feelings and characters, instead of personal experiences. “It takes away the rules and you can feel free to be really emotional when talking about love or sadness,” Hindman explains.
“I feel like there’s a feeling or world that gets created when we’re making music, and we tap into that sound,” he continues. “We’re like, “Okay, this character is heartbroken, because he can’t travel back in time to before he was heartbroken, but he’s a wizard that can read people’s minds and was persecuted for it, now he has to live on his own on the run... and he remembers a time when they lived a normal life.”
“I would love to write a song about that,” Versprille adds.
The cosmic nature of Hindman’s description is an acute match for Pure Bathing Culture’s cerebral sound -- one that resonates with optimists, dreamers and, well, anyone searching for a little magic left in the world.
With two full-length records and an EP to its name, the ever-evolving group is preparing to release a third album, which Daniel says they hope sounds like “teenagers in Scotland in the 1980s became obsessed with Prince and maybe got ahold of some really early digital recording technology and made a record in their garage.”
While awaiting their next release, you can catch Pure Bathing Culture on tour with Death Cab for Cutie, check out their latest Elton John cover, or listen to their full songography here. See the full list of tour dates below:
03/10 Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
03/11 Phoenix, AZ @ VIVA PHX Festival
03/16 Reno, NV @ Grand Sierra Theatre*
03/17 Las Vegas, NV @ The Chelsea*
03/18 Tucson, AZ @ 191 Toole
03/19 Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues*
03/23 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
03/24 Seattle, WA @ Barboza