A few years ago, Lynn Gunn, front woman and principal songwriter for the Lowell, Massachusetts-borne electronic band, PVRIS, took a trip to the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. There, Gunn set up a small studio in the kitchen of a rental home. She began to work, experimenting and manipulating sounds, trying to capture something special from the sonic ether around her. Soon, a few compositions bubbled up and she got the beginnings of the tracks down. More recently, Gunn decided to dust off one of the songs from that retreat and give it a new look. She listened to it again and decided to send that track’s “topline”(or, isolated vocals) to her friend, the DJ and producer, Rezz (aka Isabelle Rezazadeh), to see what she could do with it. Gunn says she gave Rezz “total freedom” to work on the music and when Gunn got back the finished product and heard what Rezz did on the song “Sacrificial,” out today, she says she was floored.
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“It had been on the shelf for a bit,” Gunn says. “It just didn’t feel like the right time for it. The original demo had a different chord selection and beat. But I sent Rezz the topline just for her to jam over and write around. Shortly after, she sent back her produced version. I just remember receiving the link to Rezz’s production of the song, getting in my car, blasting it and loving it.”
For her part, Rezz says she was inspired by what Gunn had sent her to begin with. Her creative energy progressed as she endeavored to construct the constantly building track. The excitement she imbued in the music carries over into its muscular rhythms and melodies.
“When I listened to the topline for ‘Sacrificial,’ that PVRIS sent me,” Rezz says, “I was immediately triggered with an idea. Moments like that are really exciting. I’m so stoked to share this record.”
As a standalone track, “Sacrificial,” pulses. It’s the song in the dimly lit action movie where our hero begins to crash through walls, defeat the bad guys who stole the family dog and make sure they never come back. It’s an intense three-minute production that bridges the rugged nature of rock with the ethereal, ephemeral aspects of electronic production. It’s a Venn diagram of pensive beats and tension release in an era of almost insurmountable obstacles. It’s also a passionate song about risking it all for love.
“I’ve always loved dreamy, atmospheric and catchy melodies,” Gunn says. “I’ve always been a little emotional Pisces. I’ve also always had a deep angst, anxiety and feistiness. I think that’s where the rock [and] distorted elements come in. It’s almost like a sonic shield or protection from the ‘soft moments.’”
“I’ve been listening to bands my whole life,” Rezz says. “I’ve always been inspired in my own music by rock.”
While the seed for the new song began with Gunn, it’s officially out as a Rezz release with a PVRIS vocal feature. Gunn, as a result, got to sit back and play a bit more with her effort on the final product. While she is so used to putting out music under her own name, Gunn says it felt liberating to be a guest under another’s umbrella.
“It’s definitely a bit more freeing,” Gunn says. “I feel like walking in to create something without any walls or expectations always helps spark something totally unique and new. Sometimes that loosened grip on the idea can unlock something and it will circle around and end up feeling perfect.”
Rezz, who grew up in Niagara Falls but later moved to the city of Toronto, says she immersed herself in the electronic music scene in the city once she got there. For the artist, music is ultimately transportive. It takes her to both new physical locales and regions in her creative psyche. Rezz holds music in such high regard that, even as an established artist pre-COVID-19, nerves would consume her before performing live shows. Music looms that largely. But, she says, that’s when the excitement of performing would pierce through and she would embrace the rush of connections.
“I love that music can take you to another world,” Rezz says. “It’s pretty trippy how it can create such an intense feeling in yourself than you’d ever imagine.”
Gunn, who grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, has a similarly intense relationship to songwriting. She remembers seeing old home videos of her as an infant blowing into harmonics or banging on little Casio keyboards. As she grew up, she learned guitar, drums and other instruments, playing them in her brother’s bedroom before he got home from school. Later, Gunn joined various school bands and began making beats on her laptop. Gunn says music always seemed a part of her purpose in life. In some way, she knew it would always be part of her ambitions. Today, music represents even headier aspects of the world for her. In some ways, Gunn views it as an energy source ever circling, hovering. It’s up to each artist, she says, in how they choose to translate that energy to their audience.
“Music is medicine,” Gunn says. “It’s magic. It’s healing, truth telling and connective. When you can package that for others to enjoy, it’s the most powerful.”
To Buy/Stream “Sacrificial” feat. PVRIS click here.
Rezz photo by Nicole De Khors