Pure Bathing Culture’s partnership sprung from Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille’s stint as part of Vetiver. But since meeting in 2009 the pair has distanced themselves from their beach folk roots, relocating from New York City to Portland, Oregon, and burrowing deeper into their stripped-down dream pop. Their debut full-length Moon Tides follows in the footsteps of last year’s self-titled EP, teasing out the duo’s bucolic sound with 1980s-influenced flourishes, subtle dance beats, and unexpected drones.
Laura Studarus caught up with both Hindman and Versprille. They told her about the strangest part of their cross-country transition, making the most of brief studio time, and why they’re keeping their fingers crossed for the existence of little green men.
On driving and surviving — New York versus Portland:
Daniel Hindman: There’s total culture shock here in Portland. Driving is just so different. People drive so slowly and carefully.
Sarah Versprille: It’s almost that they’re considerate to the point of being a little bit dangerous.
Hindman: You’ll be going 40 miles per hour on a road and somebody will just stop because they see a pedestrian on a sidewalk. It’s crazy. It’s super kind. It’s very compassionate. But it’s also dangerous.
On making their minimal studio budget count:
Versprille: I think there’s a certain amount of freedom to know that’s how you’re working. You’re not going to do 25 takes. You’re not going to do 25 vocal passes. You’re only going to do a few, and one of them is going to be great, and that’s the one that you’re going to keep. I think it’s an interesting way to be able to trust yourself and trust your ability, and document where you were at, at the time that you made the recording. In that sense, it’s a really neat thing to be able to go back to and think things like, “I did it that way, because I didn’t know that you could do it another way, and I was just at that point when we made the recording.” I think that’s a special part of making records in that way.
Hindman: It helps it to be really real. That record was recorded in 10 days. Nothing before that, nothing after that. That what we were doing for 10 days, and then we were done. It’s funny, if we were allowed to go back and work more on it, maybe we would have.
On believing in aliens (maybe):
Hindman: I hope there are. I actually like that aspect of the title too. The title for us became a concept that we were riffing on creatively. I like the idea that Moon Tides is a fantastical thing. It doesn’t need to be translated in some literal way to have some exact, deep meaning. I think for us it came to represent the overall ambience of the experience that we had making the record. I like that there’s such a strong relationship symbolically and scientifically between the moon and the tides, which is actually a working title we had originally for the record. But we wanted to strip it away from being so literal and maybe allow it to be something more fantastical that was a combination of the two things. To just be a little bit more open.
On their fascination with the moon:
Hindman: We have been for a while, really interested in the moon and all of its meanings. Scientifically and astrologically. We were really inspired by the relationship of the moon to the earth, and also the way the moon affects the tides and water. Water, as a representation of human emotion, and how the moon’s energy really effects, or could really affect us. Our bodies are made up of mostly water. The moon affects the ocean. It’s reasonable to think that perhaps it affects us in that same profound way. We’re really interested in that, and really inspired by that relationship.
Versprille: I think our interest in the moon, for me, initially was interest in the symbolism. Through different cultures and history there’s so much symbolism and meaning behind the moon. Eventually that does translate and resonate with the spirituality of the moon. At some point, it had a meaning. At some point from all the reading and thinking about it, it started to mean something a little bit more to me. It takes on a different meaning when you think about it a lot.
On water imagery in their music:
Hindman: It’s similar to the concept to the moon. The was one of the reasons that we were attracted to the name Moon Tides as well, because we did want to deal with the theme of water. For us, we think of water as emotion. We think a lot about rebirth and transformation. Those are sort of the themes. It sounds really strange. But it’s a means to an end. We’re musicians we’re not gurus. It’s stuff that turns us on and informs the songs. We’re just songwriters — we’re not new age freaks. The thing is that we’re really turned on by all that stuff. But we’re not out there, telling people that crystals will change their lives. That stuff functions as a muse for us. Maybe the next muse will be something completely different.
On soulmates and the song “Twins”:
Versprille: It’s about deep human connections. More so than predestine soulmates, it’s about when you do have that person, whether it’s a romantically involved relationship, or a relationship between mother and daughter or father and son. Those connections in life are the most tangible, real things that we have. That song is about the beauty of that connection.
Hindman: It’s also about how far someone would go for that. Being willing to transcend all things or transform to maintain that connection.
On looking on the bright side of life:
Hindman: I consider myself to be an optimist. I believe in positively. Again, not in some kind of preaching way. We don’t want to be gurus. But I believe in positively. I believe in optimism. I believe in trying to do the right thing for the right reasons.