The Profoundly Dark Pop of White Poppy

The sound of White Poppy may be the definition of “sweet surrender.”  It beautifully embodies all of the dreamiest, fuzziest, and gaziest sounds of the late ‘80s and early...

The sound of White Poppy may be the definition of “sweet surrender.”  It beautifully embodies all of the dreamiest, fuzziest, and gaziest sounds of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.  It also rings of the postmodern paranoia of Post-Punk.  It’s unquestionably haunting, but also works as a hypnotic sedative, as if you were facing the Apocalypse on all of the right drugs… Imagine if Factory Records had been contracted to score a David Lynch film… White Poppy is Crystal Dorval, a British Columbian musician who’s spent the past few years working on the ten avant-garde psychedelic pop gems that comprise her self-titled debut LP, which drops September 3rd on Not Not Fun.  She also has a handful of West Coast live dates planned for September.  I recently got the chance to catch up with her about the inspiration behind White Poppy, in addition to things like the beauty of cassettes and the artistic fruitfulness of a personality crisis.

Izzy Cihak: What have been the highlights of White Poppy, thus far?

Crystal Dorval: I feel like one of the most surprising and gratifying things about White Poppy is the connection I have been feeling with other people. I have always liked how music and art can connect people and bring people together, and I feel like this project is allowing me to experience that first-hand. I have been pushing myself to be more honest and open these days and, in turn, other people are being honest and open to me. It’s quite a beautiful thing.

IC: You’re about to release your first full-length.  How would you characterize the album?  What were its biggest influences, whether musical or otherwise?

CD: I think the biggest influences are less musical and more emotional. Though the album was recorded mainly over the last year, it actually contains bits and pieces from songs I have been working on throughout my early twenties. I feel like it is largely influenced by that early twenties identity crisis and aimlessness. But I think the album sort of works through those feelings and allows a sense of peace and calm to be felt.

IC: I quite like the music videos I’ve seen of yours.  They remind me of the late ’80s/early ’90s, early Gregg Araki, Cinema of Transgression, and the kind of cinematography that would be seen on 120 Minutes.  Are there any visual or cinematic artists or movements than you’re especially fond of?

CD: Thanks, glad you like the videos! The ‘80s and ‘90s video esthetic is definitely something I am fond of. A lot of it is humorous to me because it is so gaudy. I like that look. Also, on a recent YouTube binge, I discovered a bunch of early abstract animations and computer graphics. I’m pretty into that right now. John Whitney is one of the names that come to mind.

IC: I also really like that you embrace seemingly antiquated methods of music consumption.  Vinyl is one thing, but I think the coolest people are those that still dig cassettes (I’m yet to do digital music and few things excite me, existentially, more than cassettes and mixtapes.)  So I’m inclined to ask, what are your thoughts on the primary mediums of contemporary music consumption?

CD: I love the convenience and accessibility of digital music. I think it’s great to be able to search for music online and download new music all the time. That being said, I really love cassettes. I think I have a trivial infatuation with them. I actually just really love the way they look, especially in a collection. I stopped buying physical music for a while but have recently started collecting cassettes again.

IC: You’re playing a handful of West Coast dates in September.  What can be expected of the live experience?

CD: I hope the live set will be pretty psychedelic and entrancing. I am currently brainstorming some visual elements to incorporate in, and I will be performing with another member, so the sound will be pretty heavy and loud. I hope that it will be both visually and sonically stimulating for the audience.

IC: What are your most significant hopes and plans for the remainder of 2013 and early 2014?

CD: I am releasing the album, then going on the tour. I might head to the East Coast to play some shows in the fall, as well. I hope to focus on art more this upcoming year, and make time for my blog, Sanity Soap. I’m also looking forward to hibernating and working on new music during the winter. I have high hopes for 2014. 2013 was a really hard year for me, and a lot of people who I know, so I want 2014 to be happier!

Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.