When The Sun Hits Interviews
Ruth Ellen Smith of Pale Dīan
Ruth Ellen Smith of Pale Dīan
Pale Dīan is an Austin-based trio that delivers dream pop of the highest quality. Their shimmery, spellbinding sound is very much in the vein of classic Cocteau Twins. While the comparison is inevitable, the band offers far more than that to the listener, putting their own unique spin on that definitive sound. Soaring, pitch perfect vocals, sparkling textures and dreamy pop hooks are descriptions that only scratch the surface of what Pale Dīan has to offer.
The time has come for you to get to know this band. Their debut LP, Narrow Birth, is set for release on June 1 via Manifesto Records and the lead single, “In A Day”, is the perfect introduction to their sound. Enjoy the following interview with the band’s lovely vocalist, Ruth Ellen Smith.
Pale Dīan performs TONIGHT in Los Angeles as part of a Part Time Punks show at La Cita Bar with their label mates PURO INSTINCT, so if you are in the area, don’t miss that. View the event here.
When was the band formed?
Pale Dīan was formed in 2015.
Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (any new releases, tour, etc.)?
We recently released our single “In A Day" on our forthcoming debut LP Narrow Birth, which will be released with Manifesto on June 1st. We touring the west coast right now – I'm actually in the van heading to Albuquerque at this moment. We will be back in Austin on the 16th of March for SXSW, then we will be back out for a whole US tour in support of our album in June/July.
Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene?
Yes and no. The press certainly does, but after hearing our album in its entirety you'll hear the conflict we have with genre loyalty.
Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre?
Well, that is hard to answer because we write so many different genres of songs. I personally borrow heavily from a post punk beat when I write. Post punk holds the pulse that I live comfortably in. Lately we've been borrowing a lot from dub drums and putting our own spin of noise and dark bass rhythms to glue the songs groove together. Our guitar tone is definitely shoegaze derived and the vocals are dreamy but the pop element is the one that we always incorporate. I enjoy and always appreciate bands that claim noise or ethereal genres, but I think the substance in a whole album of ambiance or noise can be lost.
How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
I feel like the best artist is able to genre bend and can move with the times.
What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
I honestly think the OG's are my faves. Not a big psych fan – especially upon moving to Austin – but Derek (guitar) has definitely been on a Brian Jonestown Massacre kick, Suicide, The Jesus and Mary Chain...It's hard for me to listen to genres that were defined by their originators, the OG's are OG for a reason, because they're fucking good. One artist that I think really reinvented one of my favorite bands, Nine Inch Nails, in an excellent way is Soft Moon. There is also this band Broken Water out of Olympia, Washington that I absolutely love and recommend anyone checking out on Spotify.
What is the most important piece of gear for your sound?
The transition from a live drummer to a Roland tr8 drum machine was a huge sound definer for us.
Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer? Fender and Roland all the way.
What is your process for recording your music? Well, we recorded this upcoming album with Alex Bhore at Elmwood Studios in Oak Cliff, TX. They used a Neve console to record, but our demos are all home recorded.
What gear and/or software do you use? We record into Ableton for demos with a Presonus interface.
What would you recommend for others? I recommend Ableton Live to any songwriter. It's is such an excellent writing tool, the way it is laid out for writing is very maneuverable and has the best live capabilities. Such a good feat in music production software. The recording capabilities are adequate, as well.
When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
If you want people to hear your music, you're going to need to know people that know branches of other people. Just how we are talking with When the Sun Hits a trusted blog for good music, latching on with a label and getting under their umbrella of contacts and listeners will only benefit you.
Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music?
I prefer vinyl, mainly because I feel the artwork should be appreciated for an album cover secondly because it sounds good. But nostalgic purposes aside, I mostly stream music, like the rest of the world.
What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work? I hesitate to say Cocteau Twins because we are compared to them so often, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that Liz Frazier's voice allows me escape into another realm. David Lynch is also a big influence on the upcoming album.
What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
That's always changing. A couple months ago all I wanted was to find true love, now I think love is not real, and that I am the human reincarnation of Satan. When you’re in those points of your life all the self-help videos in the world say to live in the moment and I think that is all bullshit to disguise the fact that you are born and die alone, and it doesn't matter how much you move or stand still. It's what you leave behind that matters. Your art, your music, work in your community, friendships, memories as a mother or father to your kids (if any). I'm always planning on my next move, and I am very goal oriented – that's what keeps me going. And even though I sound kind of like a bummer, my number one rule is to always always be thankful for everything you have.
Any additional comments?
Make your parents proud, brush your teeth, and never let anyone discourage you from doing something because you are a girl!