Promo photo by Jeaneen Lund.
With an essence that drips like molasses and drags like perfect trips, the impression created by Puro Instinct lingered.
The Kaplan Sisters, Piper Kaplan (lead vocalist) and Skylar Kaplan (lead guitarist)– who as of 2011 changed their name from Pearl Harbor to Puro Instinct, go from an eerie and compelling duo to a lucid and haunting six-piece dream pop band. The sisters are wild eyed and sharp tongued and encompass both the heart of a child but the fierceness an ’80s rockstar as their lyrics weaves in and out of profound wisdom to amusing vulgarity.
Recently having toured with Ariel Pink one of the band’s largest influences, Puro Instinct released their latest album in February 2011, Headbangers in Ecstasy. After touring the United States and Europe, Puro Instinct has been maintaining momentum and cultivating buzz around their psychedelic, dreamy sound.
With a name like “Puro”, meaning pure in Spanish, and with the previously mentioned Russian Typography, enhanced with a surprising Russian follow, it is not coincidental that some of Puro Instinct’s influences are based on Russian and Mexican backgrounds.
“The thing is, when I was growing up in L.A., all of my friends are either Mexican or Russian. I was in the best of both worlds, “ Piper said. “I got to watch a lot of great Spanish soap operas, music and television. Also, I watched a lot of Russian soap operas and pop videos. I was lucky to grow up with all of those influences around me. The elementary school Skylar and I attended curriculum was kind of chalk-full of opportunities to experience both cultures, because it was composed primarily of those two cultures.”
With musical influences flowing from jazz to classical and The Beach Boys to The Velvet Underground, Puro Instinct has already begun to incorporate new styles into their music. Since the release of their EP, Pearl Harbor, their full-length album, a few tours, and a name change, the growth of the band has been noted as exceptional.
“I like the allure in ambiguity and confusion,” Piper Kaplan said in regards to the band’s name change from Pearl Harbor to Puro Instinct. “We do what we want. We like to confuse people. Which in this case means we can sell records under the name of Pearl Harbor and under the name Puro Instinct. We’re just maniacs.”
Piper goes on to explain that style changes overtime and never really settles.
“You realize that all of those changes and things are you, you just haven’t realized how to encapsulate all of these different perspectives. Your perspective is so multi-faceted.”
“You can hear something, one way, one day, and then two or three weeks later, you can hear something and be like “No, that doesn’t make any fucking sense at all.” The songs kind of grow and breathe on their own. That’s the idea, allowing them to kind of develop and become what they want to become,” Piper said.
The primal haze created by Puro Instinct is generally a creative team effort, unique in each creation and modest in attempts.
“Each song has a different, weird story on how it came about. It’s hard to say at this point, ‘Oh, these two people are writing all of the music together,’” Skylar said. “Sometimes we get ideas from different band members. It’s just about listening to good ideas and developing them,” Skylar said.
“It’s really about figuring out a way to seamlessly connect all of these ideas in a way that isn’t monotonous, but makes sense to ears other than your own. That’s a tough one for us, because a lot of shit that makes absolutely no sense to anyone else makes perfect sense to us.” Piper said.
One thing that strives to make little sense, but serves the purpose of simple playfulness with an essence of dreaminess is Puro’s music video for “Silky Eyes,” featured on their latest album, Headbangers in Ecstasy.
“The initial thing was that I wanted it to be this really teenage, lusty, smokey, glittery, fantasy-disco-slumber-party. I wasn’t going for a serious, heavy video at all. I wanted something really fun and visually appetizing. I want it to be ear candy and eye candy, with lots of encounters with feelings of floatiness; The visual brother of the feelings you get when you’re really giddy about someone. I love that, that’s my favorite feeling in the world. It’s the flirtyness and the giddiness,” said Piper.
This lucid creativity highlights the dreaminess in their psychedelic orchestrations, lacking boundaries in regards to imagination, featuring interesting use of paint, and encompassing an alluring 80’s-glamour atmosphere. Puro Instinct intends to create a music video for “Slivers of You” now that they’ve returned from their European tour, and Piper would love to shoot a dark and edgy video to compliment “California Shakedown”.
Despite living in the new millennium and proving they can rock harder than the boys, female musicians, whether it she’s a singer-songwriter or fronting a band, will run into the undeniable issue of constantly being undermined in musical talent and abilities due to gender. Skylar has come across this difference during routine sound checks.
“Me and Cody both play guitar in the band,” said Skylar. “Some sound guys are really cool and have listened to your stuff ahead of time so that they know what to expect, but a lot of sound guys don’t do that. It’s kind of funny, but kind of weird that they always assume that Cody is the lead guitarist– not that it’s a big deal, but it’s funny to us, because we always have to explain, ‘Hey, by the way, can Skylar be a little louder than Cody, because she’s the lead guitarist.’”
For many bands rapidly gaining momentum, the primary focus after releasing an album is this inevitable cycle of steadily touring, creating and releasing. Puro Instinct intends to continue their musical career by continuing to tour and creating music. However, the sisters are willing to currently shift focus after this last batch of touring.
“I think right now, we’re trying to reconfigure and refresh our perspective on what actually matters, and what we love and what we want and where we want to take it. That kind of takes longer than some of these labels like, but you’ve got to fucking do the right thing. I don’t believe in carelessly tossing songs into the world, as if they’re sneezes. If you’re going to throw it out there, it’s got to mean something,” said Piper.
Watch Puro Instinct’s music video for “Silky Eyes” below.