PVRIS’ Lynn Gunn: "There's a lot of external pressure on things that really don't matter"

A portrait of PVRIS' Lynn Gunn
(Image credit: Sasha Samsonova)

PVRIS have been keeping busy since releasing their highly anticipated third album, Use Me, in August 2020. As well as unleashing a deluxe edition of the album at the end of last year, they’ve been holding a virtual concert series via the Pillar platform, playing each of their albums in full, starting with their 2014 debut album White Noise, last November. 

Continuing the trend, on January 9 they kicked off 2021 with a livestream (yeah, they're not going anywhere for a while) of 2017 album All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell

Beyond the livestreams, Lynn Gunn – the creative force behind PVRIS – has also been staving off lockdown boredom by remixing music for artists such as US indie rockers Joywave and actor and musician Kat Cunning.

Here, we speak to Gunn about PVRIS' livestreams, releasing music during the pandemic and the reality of connecting with fans virtually.

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Pandemics, having to release albums without touring... how has the last year been for you?

"I think it took a bit of pressure off everything. It has had everybody really just do it – put an album out and share music, and that's what it should be about. I think a lot of the time with album releases, there's so much pressure; around release numbers, the charts, what your touring numbers are. There's a lot of external pressure for things that really don't matter. When someone releases music, it's for people to listen and enjoy and take it for whatever they want If someone wants to listen to the album, they're gonna listen to it. And if they don't, they don't. It felt really good just to get to release the album and have it live."

I also wanted to ask about the deluxe edition, because that came out kind of by surprise. What made you decide to release that?

"There were just a lot of leftover demos and songs that we wanted on the album – or were kind of debating being on the album – such as Thank You and the alternative version of Things Are Better. There's still a lot of others that didn't make it onto the deluxe as well, but it gave us a chance to kind of showcase different sides of Things Are Better and Loveless… We wanted to give a little bit of extra love with what we could."

What made you decide to do the full album play-throughs for the livestream series, as opposed to a more traditional setlist?

"Right now we wanted to find the best way to stay connected with our fans and the community within that. We thought, what better than just kind of revisiting everything and going back down memory lane? Obviously it's been a crazy year and a crazy time. I think a lot of people are reflecting on their past, their present, their future, and it's been cool to just revisit everything and give those albums their moment in a modern virtual show context."

A lot of people are talking about the future of livestreams and whether they'll stay around after shows come back. Both because it's a way for artists to make more money but also it makes shows more accessible. Is it something you'd be open to even after tours start back up?

"Definitely. We can only do so much with the resources we have and the budget we have at this time, but hopefully, when the world turns a little bit back to normal, we can continue to do the streams. I definitely wanted to do more, as far as lighting and production, but we can only really do so much right now. But that would be my one thing with it – if it's a thing that continues, I want to make sure we can do something that's unique and elevated from the ones we're doing right now."

What's it been like, connecting with fans and interacting with them online?

"Our fans are so fun, and funny and amazing and sweet and talented. I'm just really grateful that we have amazing people supporting our music. I go through waves where I feel really weird about the internet. I'll just leave it and vanish for a month, or not go on for weeks. But I think especially when we launched Pillar and started going into a little bit more of a tight-knit setting to interact with our fans, it's been really, really nice and I love it."

How have the virtual meet-and-greets been?

"They've been so fun. I was really sceptical when we were first discussing doing it, because I really felt that it might not be as fulfilling or as high quality of an experience as an in-person meeting. But in my opinion, I've enjoyed it more than when we do in-person. When we did it online, we were doing like 20 people a day versus on a normal day on a regular tour, where we would meet about 100 people in a day. And typically, just because of circumstances and how scheduling is and how venues are, a lot of the time we'll have to rush because the doors will need to open and they need to let people in or there's some issue with security… and we can't spend too much time. So the virtual meet-and-greets have been really great for having extended time to talk to everybody. I also think that because I'm in my home and people are in their homes, it's really disarming and casual and comfortable. I've gotten to meet people's families, people's pets, their partners, and it's just really wholesome and awesome. I love it. I want to do a lot more."

You've been doing a lot of producing recently, was that something you always wanted to do?

"I've always been doing it under the radar, but haven't really released anything or had the confidence to really fully go for it. The pandemic was definitely a nice time to actually sit, take the big gulp and go for it."

Have you been working on any new PVRIS music?

"Yes. It's hard to get stuff completed right now just because part of the process that's really fun for me is taking whatever I'll make at home and bringing it to somebody, and then getting to go crazy on instruments and synths and have that studio exploration time. That's obviously hard to do in a pandemic. There's ways you can kind of make stuff work via Zoom, and it’s definitely been a learning curve to adjust to as far as writing and producing at the time, but it's fun. It's been cool to have downtime to really dive in."

Use Me is available now. You can find details about PVRIS' livestreams on their official Pillar page