Megan James and Corin Roddick grew up in the frosty Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta, which, according to them, is the “kind of place you have to leave to do anything that isn’t involved with the oil industry.” But neither one of them had any intention of spending life on the rig. Roddick, 21, formerly of the band Gobble Gobble, had been drumming since he was 14, while James, 24, is a trained pianist who’s been writing her own lyrics for more than a decade. In 2010, they joined forces to form the medieval pop duo Purity Ring, whose sound follows a simple, addictive formula: Over jittery, hip-hop-inspired beats courtesy of Roddick, James lays down ghostly and energetic vocals. With no more than three orphan tracks, which have been circulating the blogosphere since last year, Purity Ring earned a Pitchfork nod and the hype that comes with it. A breakout showcase at SXSW soon followed, and now they’re putting the finishing touches on their highly anticipated debut, Shrines, out July 23.
Roddick, who currently lives in the music oasis of Montreal (James is based in Halifax), admits that Purity Ring takes up 95 percent of his time. If it didn’t, however, he’d satisfy his creative hunger with other pursuits. “I think I would be interested in carpentry and woodworking,” he says. “Before I got really into music, I was into drawing and painting, but I haven’t done that in a long time.” James, however, hasn’t quite given up on her extracurricular activities. “I love to pot, I love to draw, and I love to sew,” she says. “I feel like I’m in kindergarten.”