Welcome back to The Singles Club, where I introduce you to bands and artists you probably wouldn’t come across without some direct and deep trolling. (I’m doing the work for you. You are welcome, pal.)
This week I decided to catch up with Vancouver-based artist Quinne Rodgers. I first met Quinne when she was one half of the post-punk art duo MYTHS. Fresh off a tour supporting Grimes (which meant crazy fashion parties with Donatella Versace and weirdness like that), Quinne and fellow MYTHS member Leif came over to join me on my old VICE podcast, Delicious with Mish. Both girls charmed me. So I decided to hit Quinne up, and I found out she’s got a new solo project called Ivory Towers.
Why did you decide to start Ivory Towers?
I’ve been wanting to work on my own music for a long time. MYTHS was wonderful, but it was narrow in its focus. I imagine this happens to lots of artists, where you work on a project for a long time and you start craving an aspect that it doesn’t touch. MYTHS wasn’t personal at all. It was very focused on a particular political agenda.
So Ivory Towers is personal and cathartic thing for you?
Yeah, it’s a manifestation of me wanting to address some stuff ... I feel like there’s a bit of a gap in music right now, actually, with earnestness. I spill my guts. It’s so nice to feel total creative freedom like that, but it’s also terrifying. Working on music on my own has been just like fighting with my own self-deprecation.
I really feel like lyrics and what the artist is saying have fallen completely off the wayside. Like, it's pathetic.
I have a bit of a theory that the rise of, well, kind of the coolness or irony or something has made honest displays of emotion [in music] feel really cheesy.
What kind of things are you confronting with Ivory Towers?
I think one of the biggest things is just talking about stuff. I think a lot of people don't have spaces where they can express things. We're still so tightly wound. When you don't talk about pain it just festers, [and] you end up turning it back on yourself. That's what I think depression is. There's a lot of themes of what we do to ourselves in that way. I've been fascinated by the effects of abuse in that way. Even a MYTHS song is about it: How an abused person will turn it back on themselves later, or become an abuser. The more we as a society just talk about this stuff the more we can destigmatize it.
I had a rough childhood and I notice that I carry the people who hurt me around with me in my head. They kind of end up living there and you just continue what they started.
With MYTHS the visual was really important to the performance. Is this the same with Ivory Towers?
The visual will always be important to me. I’m a visual person. It’s been quite a challenge to switch from one project to another in that aspect, building a whole other visual world.
Why did you call the project Ivory Towers?
We were visiting my mom, who lives on Gabriola Island. We were taking the ferry back, and it was one of those days that was overcast, but there were rays of sun just hitting downtown Vancouver. The sun hitting the high rises just makes them glow white. And I said, “It looks like a city of ivory towers.” And it is, right? Vancouver is a city of ivory towers. It's so expensive to live in. There's such an obvious gap between rich and poor.
Completely. Visually and figuratively.
I think it's good to remember who is living in an ivory tower. Who's got the privilege. And then I found out that the princess in the Neverending Story lived in the Ivory Tower, and I was sold.
Do you feel like it's getting harder to be an "artist" in Vancouver?
I get asked this a lot during interviews, and now I live in Los Angeles. It's just something I think about. I think it is getting harder to find affordable housing, but I see myself as lucky in a lot of ways. After I toured the States I really came to a new appreciation of how great it is here, that people go out to shows and they're willing to listen and appreciate what they're hearing. Everyone has to fight the city every step in every direction—maybe that's brought everyone together more. But it’s a treasure. We have universal health care and a fairly good social safety net, so I think we actually have a leg up on, say, poor Americans.
Mish Way likes listening to music with good lyrics and also singing music with good lyrics for her band, White Lung. She's on Twitter - @myszkaway
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