Purple Pilgrims wear Checkers dress & Checkers shirt dress.
What are you looking
forward to in 2019?
We’re really looking forward to the release
of our second album. We feel like we’ve grown in so many ways since our last
body of work and we’re proud of the development, personally and creatively. We
recorded and produced the majority of the album ourselves at home - there’s
always a certain amount of trial and error that goes along with that - and it’s
that experimentation that we love most about making music. We’ve always been
very DIY, and quite insular in our process, but this time around we were lucky
enough to collaborate with some amazing musicians and an actual sound wizard.
This new approach was a great lesson for us in being slightly more malleable
and open with our work.
We’re very excited for her to be out in the
world soon, it feels as though it’s been a long labour!
Listening to Purple Pilgrims is like stepping
into another world, tell us about your sound and the experience you want to
The juxtaposition of reality vs. the unreal,
and blurring the lines between, is a theme that we’ve always been fascinated
with. We want to invite the listener into a dream space, and hopefully evoke
something akin to magic in a general sense. The meeting point between ancient
imagery and futurism is an idea we’re endlessly enamoured by, and is a
recurring theme our work too. In terms of interpretation we wouldn’t really
like to suggest/impose any particular feeling on the listener by over
explaining the music (we’d rather the listener decide on that themselves) - but
the goal would be for whomever listens to have some emotional reaction to the
music - whatever that might be.
You live in the Coromandel, but keep one foot
in the city. What does the contrast of living between two places offer you
From a young age we grew up between Hong Kong
and Christchurch, so the contrast between Coromandel and Auckland feels quite
natural to us. In Coromandel we live in a very isolated bush setting - out of
cell tower range and 40 minutes from the closest town. In the city we live in
the middle of town, in a converted office building, surrounded by the constant
hum of people and traffic. Extremes seem to suit us. I think this contrast
manifests itself in our work in the sense that our music is often either quite
meditative, or rather chaotic. There’s also no time to feel uninspired by our
surrounding as we’re moving back and forth all the time! Once we get sick of
the quiet, we’re ready for the noise - and vice versa.
You have a new album releasing this year, is
there anything you can tell us about the inspiration behind the album?
We wrote and recorded (most of) the album in
the deep Coromandel bush, the isolation of this environment has no doubt found
it’s way into the themes of the songs. We moved out here from Hong Kong a
couple years ago now and it was quite a shock to begin with - not being able to
pop out to the shops at 3am (Hong Kong truly never sleeps) etc. took some
adjusting. But we both discovered, that after a certain amount of time, that
internal white noise (that we never really realised was there) seemed to
subside and we found ourselves to be more at ease with our own thoughts. These
songs feel more at ease than anything we’ve made in the past, and so think our
environment - or rather the embracing of our environment - is the reason behind
How do you approach getting
dressed for a performance? And what are your goals in
terms of feel and function?
Clothes can be so conducive
to confidence, if we’re feeling uncomfortable with an outfit it’s possible that
that might reflect on our performance - so we try not to rush getting dressed
if at all possible - although there are always a million things to think about
before a show! Often clothes don’t translate the way we think they’re going to
on stage - we’ve found that thinking in terms of ‘costume’ is more helpful than
anything - along with dramatic silhouettes and block colours. What we like to
wear on stage is constantly evolving, but we are always drawn to things with
length - appearing to be less connected to the earth seems to make sense with
Do you have any rituals before a
We try to stay as calm as
possible, sometimes this requires homeopathic tinctures - though if nerves are
really present whisky is the preference! Yogi throat comfort tea is good, and
making tea does somehow always feel a bit ritualistic. I think like every
performer, we try to inhabit the worlds we’re attempting to create with our
music - and for us, that’s a pretty calm space, so we don’t really get hyped up
for a gig. Letting too much into your head before a show can be dangerous, so
we try to avoid being social until after the show!
What are you currently reading/watching/listening
We’ve always had a mutual fascination with
mythology and folk storytelling, and have a pretty extensive shared library of
this genre. Currently reading a $2 treasure picked up outside a dairy/book
stall on Manukau Road (right next door to a spot with the best seafood Laksa in
Auckland!) - ‘Celtic Mythology: The Nature and Influence of Celtic Myth from
Druidism to Arthurian Legend’. The guy who owns the dairy is really sweet and
super enthusiastic about the varied titles he’s acquired.
Interview & photography by Greta van der Star.
Check out Purple Pilgrims here.