In My Room
Nov 06, 2015
Photography by Ray Lego Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
Following the sepulchral, reverb-laden 2010 debut The Waves and the doom-shimmer ripples of 2012's neo-shoegaze Tender New Signs, NYC via New Zealand songwriter Tamaryn Brown (who releases music simply under her first name) felt an impulse to change. After a decade of working with guitarist/producer Rex John Shelverton, she initially sought out Shaun Durkan of Weekend for what was originally conceived as a side project. After demos were fleshed out, and further collaboration with Jorge Elbrecht (Violens/Lansing-Dreiden) ensued, she was eventually inspired to forge those songs into the newest LP under her own name, the kaleidoscopic Cranekiss. It's a marked departure from her prior two records in that it embraces an '80s pop ethos indebted in equal measures to The Cure and Depeche Mode, without sacrificing the steadfast songcraft that's always been the name of the game on her albums.
Speaking in a rapid-fire burst while on a drive to a Brooklyn photoshoot, she says, "I want to have the freedom to sound however I want, just to make something fresh and new. Even up until I finished the album, I was toying with the idea of having it as a new band, but I made the choice that if I was doing a reinvention with the Tamaryn project, I could do it for the rest of my life. It's my name, and I looked at people like Kate Bush and David Bowie and all the collaborations they'd done.... I'd like to continue collaborating with different people and not having to come up with a new band name every time I take on some new creative turn, especially in this day and age."
Brown claims that Durkan brought a "more textural, emotional, and intuitive" feel to songs, while Elbrecht took them into "the world of free-style pop music." "Hands All Over Me," with its ebullient, surging chorus, is emblematic of the latter direction.
"When he brought it to me, I was like, 'Ah, I dunno if this is what I wanna go for.' But he was like, 'No it's gonna be amazing, when you sing, you sound like Madonna sometimes. Just sing and trust me,'" she recounts. "So I did, and we sort of interpreted the sonic palette Shaun and I had already started. It's a great combination, because you get these intensely textural things happening, but then they're organized into more developed pop sounds. The three of us all brought something to the table, and they complemented each other really well."
She admits that she agonizes over her lyrics, taking months after the instrumental tracks were completed to finish them. "I'm not of the school of Kurt Cobain when it comes to lyrics," Brown says resolutely. "I think it's cool to care about things and to put your heart and soul into things."
And she's indeed created a record with tremendous heart in Cranekiss, its songs cohering into what's become an anomaly in a digitally inundated music world—an LP best heard from start to finish, free of extraneous fat and filler, with a few pop songs rife with a keen sense of melodic urgency to rope in the listener.
"When you have a nine- or 10-song album, you allot an amount of space for pop songs, and then there's room for this whole other territory," she says. "Maybe that's not the headspace of people today. But I sit around listening to albums over and over again, and my favorite songs are rarely the singles—they're the songs you totally lose yourself in while you're in your room alone."
[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's August/September 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is its debut online.]
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