Purmamarca - No Battles
Got this letter from songwriter Ryan Henry:
i’m writing to you about my band Purmamarca which began as a solo bedroom and basement recording project but has now developed into a trio and has also expanded to being recorded in the kitchen, too.
i first learned about your blog through my friends softspot with whom i shared a home/practice/performance space, HAUS1025, in bushwick for over two years. i love their work; they can do no wrong. you also recently wrote about another good friend, workman song, who was actually part of an earlier lineup of my band.
Purmamarca is very different from both of those projects. it’s ambient rock or indie psych or post pop. i actually don’t know what it is. after we self-released our debut record, Summer Air // Night, last march, we’ve been likened to kurt vile and tame impala and the shins and a modern day jefferson airplane, all of which are probably pretty accurate to some degree but also not accurate at all.
the idea of a record that embraced classic songwriting with a chill vibe started over three years ago. a lot of the songs gestated over that period of time, but the story of the band really begins when i began meeting the collaborators with whom i made the record:
re: Martin Jorgensen: in the winter of 2012 i was working part-time as a tutor to some kids in bed stuy. as i was leaving the brownstone where one of the kids lived, i reached for a cigarette and realized i was out. a really tall dude headed in my direction was smoking and i asked him if i could bum one. he said it was his last, but that i could have the rest of it if i wanted. which sort of blew me away given that so few people are actually that kind. he was carrying a casio keyboard under his arm and we talked about music briefly before i had to get to my next tutoring appointment. as i hurried off, i realized that he had said he was a drummer. i had been looking for a drummer for my band and in the flurry of the moment, i didn’t think to exchange any information with him. the next day i returned to the same street and went to the brownstone where the tall man said he was living. i didn’t really expect to find him but i left him a note on the front door and asked him if he wanted to jam sometime. unexpectedly, a few days later i got a call, and we’ve been playing together ever since.
re: Colin Alexander: in the winter of 2011 i moved back to brooklyn after having spent a half a year in california getting reacquainted with my family after having lived at college. before i found a place to live in BK, i crashed on a couch in the house where my best friend JT lived in bushwick, sort of before bushwick was bushwick. i met his roommates who were in a band called softspot and their collaborator colin alexander who also lived there. the first day i was crashing there we all had brunch together and that night we saw their friends future islands play at 285 kent. a month later one of their other roommates moved out and i was asked if i wanted the room. i lived there for the next year and a half - colin and i and the others watched episodes of twin peaks to get us through the winter, we endured the terror of finding a bedbug and the chaos of getting the house fumigated, and once colin accidentally dropped his AC from his second floor bedroom window and it came crashing down a few feet from my head as i stood in the backyard. it was actually after colin moved out to his own place that i approached him about mixing my first EP and we’ve been at it since.
re: Hannah D’Amato: though we’re both a little shy about it, Hannah and I are both musical theater nerds deep down. we certainly don’t pursue it as a career choice like some of our friends, and we actually think most musicals suck. we did, however, meet when we both were working on a production of les miserables. my alma mater, the orange county school of the arts, asked me to come direct the production for the 25th anniversary of the school, given that i had had some success as a director in new york (i had assisted the legendary hal prince and was mentored by sondheim.) anyway, i cast hannah as eponine, being totally struck by her dreamy pop voice and also noticing she was one of the only ones at the school that seemed to play by her own rules. we actually both felt a little awkward to be there — i had pretty much given up theater years before, and she was wanting to play in bands more than anything else. we worked through our awkwardness together, talking about a mutual admiration for bon iver, jamming after rehearsal one night, and sharing new songs we were working on with each other. after she moved to brooklyn two years later, i asked her to be a part of my band.
re: Brian Bishop: after Hannah joined the band, we started playing little gigs together around the city, including one at a bar in which no one seemed to really be listening as much as they were drinking and talking. which is fine. our friend tara had booked us on the bill that night, and another friend of hers, brian, played a solo set after us. hannah was, like, “that cover of the fleet foxes song is good”, and i was, like, “yes, it is”. she said, “i’m maybe going to ask him if he maybe wants to jam sometime”. so brian started coming to our apartment soon after that, they started working together at first and formed a band called All the Parts of the Buffalo, and then brian started playing with Purmamarca as well, first as a euphonium player, and later, more significantly, on the lead guitar parts.
re: Gabriele Grassia: early in 2013 i worked as a busser at northeast kingdom, an overpriced but delicious farm-to-table restaurant in jefftown. i got a job opportunity to lead a band for a night of short plays at a theater called ars nova and i took it. unfortunately, i couldn’t get my shift covered at the small-staffed NeK, and they fired me. they actually really don’t know how to be flexible or understanding with artists at all there. it sucked. i finished the short plays and i was without a job and i was broke as fuck. soon enough, though, i got a job delivering pizzas at verde coal oven, another spot in bushwick that might double as a mafia hangout. while i was there i met Gabi, a recent transplant from Italy who moved with his band Late Guest at the Party to pursue music in the big city. him and i would trade off playing music in the kitchen as we worked there and we had a mutual affection for chill, electronic stuff like Air. we ended up producing a track together and he’s become one of my very closest collaborators and friends. i’ve worked in a dozen restaurants and this was the only time i ended up jamming with another musician i’d met in one. everything happens for a reason.
did you make it through all of that? it was a lot to write, and i’m not surprised if you’ve skipped ahead. but really the story of the band is just that - it’s me and these dear, talented people who have joined me in creating these songs. i love them all so fucking dearly. and i figured that with your affinity for stories, you wouldn’t mind all the detail.
in regards to Summer Air // Night, we were so lucky to have portals premiere our first two singles "stay tomorrow" and "don’t need your love". them getting behind us was a huge step forward and also totally unexpected. i’m still so fucking grateful and surprised at how it all went down. subsequently, dots & dashes and the line of best fit wrote about our track "spring", goldflakepaint included "abandon shake" on their recent compilation, nothing if not loved, bandcamp featured our new release "no battles" on their weekly playlist, bandcamp weekly, and rough trade reached out to us and is now selling the record in their stores. all of these were actually totally unexpected steps forward, and we’re all stoked about the support and so grateful.
now we want to try to just keep getting the songs out there! if you’re interested in writing/sharing about any or all of them, we’d fucking love it. your blog rules.
we also have a show tuesday, august 26th at radio bushwick.
thanks so much for your time, man. we look forward to hearing from you.
ryan henry and purmamarca
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