Pure Bathing Culture On Swiss Spas and Significant Others

by Elyssa Goodman

Perhaps fittingly, what's most noticeable about indie dream pop duo Pure Bathing Culture, made of real-life couple Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman, is their chemistry. Blending synths and keyboards, their songs have an ethereal quality, inspired, they say, by an interest in spirituality. Having recently moved from Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Portland, Oregon, the duo returned to the East Coast this fall for a string of tour dates and to play a few tunes in the Paper kitchen. We sat down with Versprille and Hindman to talk about their debut full-length, Moon Tides, Swiss spas, and what happens when significant others form a band.

Where does the name Pure Bathing Culture come from?

Daniel Hindman: My brother was studying architecture in Switzerland and he went to the Therme Vals spa. We were talking on the phone and he told me about the last session of the day, whose name, when translated from German to English, translated to the words Pure Bathing Culture. It was completely beautiful. You weren't allowed to speak during the session, you waded through a series of pools in different ways. It stuck in my brain and we Googled those three words and we found all these really beautiful images of bath culture.

Sarah Versprille: Also, at that time, we didn't have a lot of songs written and finding that name really helped us to say, "This project [has] a name, this is something." It brought it more into focus for us and resonated with some of the lyrical themes we were working with at the time.

What themes?

Versprille: Spirituality in general is something that's been useful to us, not necessarily specific to one type of spirituality but bathing for spiritual purposes, cleansing, transformation through that process. That was really interesting and inspiring.

What about spirituality is inspiring to you?

Hindman: It's something that human beings have been dealing with and have used to make sense of the world around them and their lives and the things they go through. Whether they choose to participate in an organized religion-type of spirituality or something more loose, it's something that's existed in the world for so long and something that everyone deals with in some way, even if they reject it. That's a fascinating part of the human condition in general. It's something we were thinking about a lot when we were working on the record.

What are your musical backgrounds? You were both in Vetiver prior to this, right?

Versprille: I started playing piano when I was really young, and then I played trumpet in high school, also went to college for music, studied voice and jazz. Dan and I both joined Vetiver in 2009. Pure Bathing Culture is really the first foray into songwriting for me.

Hindman: My musical background is mainly playing the guitar. I played guitar in a lot of bands and Pure Bathing Culture is the first band I've really been a prominent co-writer in. So it's my first creative project. I used to play a lot of jazz music and improvisational music.

How did you decide to go from being a couple to being musicians together?

Hindman: It wasn't a decision we made. That's why writing the EP and the record are coming full circle. The first song we wrote together was "Lucky One," which is on the EP. After we did that, it wasn't, "Oh, we'll have a band." It was more like, "Cool, we wrote a song."

What's coming up next for you? What's on the menu?

Hindman: We're just getting into writing and conceptualizing a new record that [we want to] put out in 2014.

You can catch Pure Bathing Culture on tour with La Luz this month and next

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