PYYRAMIDS is the dark and mysterious union of two beautifully creative minds joined together from great distance. Improbably comprised of Tim Nordwind and Drea Smith – he from the indie rock band OK Go, she from the electro-pop outfit He Say/She Say – the duo initially bonded over an affinity for first-wave British post-punk and 80’s Manchester bands. The beauty of their music overwhelmed us from their early singles to the present. In my mind, this reminds me of the feeling I got, upon first hearing Massive Attack. Beats, beauty and mysticism combine to mesmerize anyone that hears them. With their debut album, Brightest Darkest Day scheduled for an April 9th release, we talked to Drea about the process for crafting her beautiful music.
Todd: In interviews, there’s been some discussion of how this project differs from your previous work. What led you to move in this direction?
Drea: I think it was a natural progression . Tim and I both wanted to do something different from what we’ve done before . I think we were both just looking to expand on what we’ve already done musically, add some thing new to our respective repertoires. The fact that we both loved a lot of the same things and wanted to draw from what we loved made for a super easy transition into a new project.
Todd: We’re always fascinated by the songwriting process and the story of how these songs were created is interesting. Are we correct that these songs started with just rhythm tracks? Can you talk about how songs like Human Beings were created?
Drea: They started off as skeletons, kind of bare bones references that I added words and vocal arrangements to. The first songs started off that way . Human Beings was one of those songs . That was actually the first track we worked on via email. Tim sent over a very minimal version of it and I added tons of vocals using Garage Band, seeing what kind of mood could be created that way and from there Tim built it out to be a finished song.
Todd: As you move forward, will this continue to be your approach? I can’t imagine Pyyramids as a “let’s get together and jam” kind of group….
Drea: We try our best not to limit our process. Sometimes we exchange info via email and work separate, sometimes we’re in a room together with a guitar and recording device writing together . We welcome however a tune comes to us.
Todd: I’m personally annoyed by the Fleetwood Mac references I keep reading, in describing your music. Do you share my sentiments or do you hear and embrace the comparisons?
Drea: I personally love Fleetwood Mac . That being said, I definitely didn’t hear that in the music while making it with Tim. It’s flattering though . Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham are legends.
Todd: I love that you share a fondness for Joy Division and The Smiths. Is Pyyramids your vehicle for channeling those influences?
Drea: Absolutely! Along with a bunch of other bands, sounds, and genres . We definitely are leaning towards the darker side of music with this project.
Todd: I love the video for Don’t Go. Can you talk about how you came upon the premise for this video? I almost hate to ask, but do you feel added pressure when making videos for Pyyramids?
Drea: Thank You! We wanted to keep a theme going with Millie , the little girl in our video . She was in our first video for “That Ain’t Right” . We liked the idea of her just being in her own little imaginary world singing along with the song . We don’t really feel pressure making videos for PYYRAMIDS. Whether it’s music or videos we’re making, we just hope to be communicating ideas that make people feel and think.
Todd: Lyrically, can you talk about what has been inspiring your music?
Drea: I draw a lot from real life. Things I’ve experienced or seen other people experience. I admit , the lyrics get pretty vulnerable at times . Some things are lifted from journal entries. I like to be as honest as possible in the lyrics I write.
Todd: I desperately wanted to be at the show you just did with She Wants Revenge and Gliss (who are a personal favorite of mine). Can you talk about that show, a bit?
Drea: That was a rad show! And we were so honored to play it. I hadn’t heard of Gliss before that night , but I’m definitely a new fan. I must say, it was a tad intimidating to open for She Wants Revenge. They have a huge LA following and The Roxy was packed out with people waiting to see them . We had a lot of fun and the crowd was amazing and super receptive.
Todd: Live, you play with a full band. Are these permanent members of the band who play on the album?
Drea: None of our live band plays on the album. Tim plays all of the instruments and handles the production on the EP with the exception of our good friends Brandon Tomas (from the band Future Ghost ) and Dan Konopka (OK Go). Brandon played the guitar solos on “That Ain’t Right” and “Human Beings” and Dan played drums on “Animal”. We’re working with Dan again on production for the new album , and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Tame Impala) has signed on to mix. Dave also mixed our EP . We adore Dave.
Todd: What’s next for Pyyramids? When will the new album come out and do you plan to tour?
Drea: We’re planning to release a full length album in early spring with a tour to follow. Super stoked for all of that!