PVRIS’ Lyndsey Gunnulfsen: “Right Now, This Feels Like My Most Authentic And Expressive Voice”

With two new tracks out in the world, Lynn talks us through their creation, taking ownership of all parts of the PVRIS sound and what the future looks and feels like.

PVRIS have just released two brand new tracks.

There’s ‘ANYWHERE BUT HERE’, which is tender, dreamy and vulnerable, and ‘ANIMAL’, which is fiery, sporadic and caustic. Both songs show off a different sense of emotion as well as sound, but both are as vital to what PVRIS is in 2022 as anything. A reminder of how limitless Lyndsey Gunnulfsen is as an artist as well as a lover of music, it is the first step on a new adventure.

To find out more about the creation of the songs and where Lyndsey is creatively and emotionally at the moment, we had a sit down for a chat…

Where would you say that the life of these two songs first started? At what point in the last year or so did they become a part of this chapter of the band?

“Both were written around the same time, which was last September. So, a little over a year ago. It’s a full circle moment to be where I was then and where I am now, seeing how a lot of things have resolved on both ends of each song, what with the feelings they convey but also what they still represent to me now.

“We did both of them when we returned from tour, our first one since the lockdown and the pandemic. As weird and dystopian as some of those shows and days felt, not being able to do the normal little things that you are so used to whilst on the road, it was interesting feeling those changes. Mostly, they felt normal, though, and like we had a purpose again. It wasn’t just, ‘What are we doing in our houses? How can we provide to the world?’. But once I got home, I immediately went to the studio and started working on these two songs.

“In that moment of coming off tour, I saw and realised that this thing that used to be a bit of a safety net for me that provided me purpose and direction felt so different. Then how that felt compared to coming home and real life, and how jarring that still felt. All of these safety nets that I had built up, and other people have built up as well, of how to get through hard times just aren’t there anymore. For me, those things were friends and family and going out into nature, but during the pandemic, you could feel them being taken away, and then add in the way that we have been watching the news play out before us, and it’s all really scary. Seeing how fleeting all these things I love are and how at risk everything is. So it was a realisation of not knowing where to go anymore and not knowing what places would make me feel safe and at home. I just wanted somebody to take me anywhere but here, not just where I am but where the world is as well.”

In that context, if that was the feeling that inspired ‘Anywhere But Here’, ‘Animal’ almost represents the raw, unfiltered feeling that comes from being able to enjoy those things that make you feel alive. It’s two sides of two very strong emotions, but it’s a case of figuring out how to put those emotions down on paper and into songs, primarily when those songs represent two different sides of the PVRIS sound…

“It was interesting because that sentiment you meant there is the reason I wrote these songs in the way I did, but also the decision to put them together like this as well. It was this feeling of feeling displaced, experiencing the highest of highs and lowest of lows, and wanting to feel in the middle sometimes. But also, both those things are expressed musically and are very tangible, real, and relatable to my experiences as a human.

“I don’t know how true this really is, but I feel like sometimes there is this expectation of PVRIS that it is this one thing. That’s typically based on our roots and the scene we came from. The rock-driven world. With that, there is pressure just to be that. And though that side is very special and near and dear to me, this other part of me loves ethereal, experimental electronic music. Everything that is not just rock. I think that the band’s aggressive rock side represents those highs and the extreme energy that comes with them, like ‘ANIMAL’. Then ‘ANYWHERE BUT HERE’ is the dreamy ethereal soothing song representing the lows. The moments that aren’t high energy, but they are still beautiful and significant to me.

“Envisioning the future and how I want to move forwards, I had this moment of not wanting to do either side and start over and not have any of the expectations or pressures. Whether or not they are real or not, I still felt them and wanted to free myself from them. But saying that, both of these songs felt important to make, and, interestingly, they were made simultaneously. There is this expression of rage and frustration and wanting to defy, and then this feeling of peace and wanting to escape. Both ends of sound and feeling are authentically PVRIS, and that’s always been the case. One of the many themes of ‘ANIMAL’ is challenging the identity placed upon you, and I feel this release has highlighted that.”

Aside from these songs, you have always released a number of collaborations with other artists over the past 12 months, existing on the more experimental side of things. Would it be fair to say that the lessons learnt from those now directly affect how you write for PVRIS?

“Yeah, so there’s ‘WICKED’ with MILKBLOOD and ‘Maybe You Saved Me’ with Bad Suns. ‘WICKED’ was written years ago, something I initially wanted for PVRIS. It just felt too weird, like it wouldn’t connect the right way at that time. It’s cool that it was able to come out in the way it did during this time of reflection. It’s really important to me that people know that PVRIS is all of these things, and it’s important for me to try and emphasise and highlight that at the same time. Being able to show that in different contexts, such as songs like this, is really important as well. I love and appreciate the freedom and ability to play and have fun and connect with these other styles. It felt right to be able to create music like this in the in-between period and show even more so what PVRIS is.”

And those songs being presented to different audiences as well, audiences that may not have been familiar with you before, opens up so many other doors. From people who have been with you since ‘St. Patrick’ to those joining the adventure now, how has it felt seeing so many people be so engaged in what PVRIS is in 2022?

“It’s interesting because PVRIS has always been about all-encompassing versatility and the dynamic of creative freedom. But, circumstances and the opportunities we took when we first started made it feel like this could only be one thing. I think a lot of people have really evolved with the band, though, and they can see that this is something that I want to keep on doing and evolving and growing. But right now, as new listeners are coming in, seeing the band at this point, in the form it is now, is really comforting and freeing. At this point in my career as an artist and a writer, I feel the freest. I don’t care what people think anymore; I just want to do what feels good and exciting. As long as somebody out there is connecting, whoever that may be, and whenever they have hopped in, that’s all that matters. Because right now, this feels like my most authentic and expressive voice, and the most I have been able to feel that.”

So as we look to the next step in this, that’s a new full-length album. At what stage is it at right now? Is it close to finished, or are you still working away at making it what you want it to be?

“It’s definitely in the final stages. The overarching themes and concepts are all in there. I think with every album, it’s like building a house. You want the pillars and the framing to be in place, and they are very much there. ‘Anywhere But Here’ and ‘Animal’ are two of those frames that are going to be supporting the house. I think I have established that PVRIS is everything all at once in these songs, alongside the other handful of songs confirmed for the album. I think there is some decorating to do right now. There’s some exploring of ideas and finding a couple more throughlines to connect it all and put the bow on it until it is done. The finish line is in sight, though. The visual, lyrical and production concepts are established and stated by these two songs, they really set the tone for the whole thing.”

You took it upon yourself to take a step back to ensure this upcoming album and everything around it was exactly what it needed to be, something that many other artists probably wouldn’t have done off the back of two years of uncertainty. But it feels as though this has not just allowed you to make it a reality but also help find yourself in a better frame of mind. How does it feel to have taken that step?

“I think the way things have been set, an artist is supposed to move through the industry and from release, has changed. I know and appreciate that I have had the privilege and foundation to take a step away from social media. I consider it a luxury, something I know not everybody has. And I know we didn’t have the luxury of our first three releases because we just had to take every opportunity and go for it. But it was tricky, just because there is still this pressure on releases. Releases are happening faster than ever, and albums are being made quicker. In some sense, it’s cool and serves people hungry for their favourite artists and the art they create. If it was normal to do back when we put ‘White Noise’ out, I think we would probably have done it. But I guess it depends on where you are as an artist. If you’re feeling super inspired, it’s beneficial. But at this point in my career and PVRIS’ career, when I was feeling confused and lost, it was essential to take a second and figure out exactly what I want and what I think and what has been put on me to enjoy and think. But in stepping away from the Internet, the initial parts of it were really scary. Everything doesn’t stop just because you have. But I just knew I needed to go inward.”

“When you’ve been doing this for nearly a decade, and realise just how young you were when you started, you realise how much you deserve the time to consider that journey in whatever way you see fit. And that consideration may throw up realisations on things that help you as you move forwards…

“Yeah, and that’s so much more than just dropping off things to be mysterious. It was truly a moment of self-care and something I had to do. It would have felt strange, inauthentic and uncomfortable to have been creating content and sharing myself during such a period of not knowing how I felt about many things. And as a person with a platform and a person who people look to in this community PVRIS has created, I didn’t think it was fair to those who see me as their security and safety to send out the wrong feelings. At the end of the day, I’m a weird, spacey artist, and even my creative voice felt confused. But now, I feel like I can say that this is how I feel about everything in a way that I want to. It’s messy, and it may change, but that’s okay. And I’m okay with that.”

More like this