Spotlight on Priory: Q&A With Oregon's Rising Dreampop Duo

Photo: Nick Walker

For kids of all ages, this week marks the beginning of the end of summer as schools everywhere start up classes again. Luckily, we got our hands on a video from incoming indie duo Priory that will make all weekends from here on out even more gratifying. Formed of a friendship between two roommates in Portland, Priory shuffles neon-hued melodies and angst-ridden beats for a jackpot of pop songs fit for joyriding through suburbia. You can look out for their upcoming album on November 3, and in the meantime, watch their new video below and read our Q&A with the band.  

Ones To Watch: How soon after moving in did you discover you two had musical chemistry together?

Kyle Sears: We lived in this old dilapidated house in outer Southeast Portland. The house was falling apart and had at any one time 8-12 people "living" there. Everyone in the house had thrown all of their musical gear into the basement, including us. My room was in the corner of that basement and was divided by a sheet. Brandon was lucky enough to have a room (with a door) upstairs. That first day Brandon and I played acoustic guitar in his room it just worked. Both of us had played with so many people that was incredible to find someone with instant musical chemistry. With all of our gear in the basement we were then able to create, experiment, and learn more about our musical characters.

Ones To Watch: What experiences shaped this album?

Brandon Rush: Kyle and I built a studio, quit our day jobs and began working 12 plus hours a day on the album. We were completely broke; Kyle wrecked his fixie bicycle 4 times and we both had a parent diagnosed with cancer going through chemotherapy and radiation. Life outside the studio was difficult at that point, but in some ways all the chaos helped us focus. It was do or die.

Ones To Watch: Describe the moment you decided to give up your day jobs and pursue Priory?

Sears: When Brandon and I quit our jobs to pursue music it was not an easy or even rational decision. Leaving traditional jobs made things tight financially for us: I ended up giving plasma for cash so we could buy groceries and Brandon taught bass lessons whenever he could. While it was a struggle, we both believed strongly in the idea that saying goodbye to your backup plan creates a state of urgency. We clocked in and out of the studio whether we were feeling creative inspiration or not. This really helped us focus in on our writing, recording, and production process. It also also gave us the space and time to look at the songs from every angle and create a body of work of which we are extremely proud.

Ones To Watch: If you could describe your music without using any kind of genre label, what would it be?

Rush: Go outside or prepare for some clean-up inside

Put the container into the volcano at the top

Add two spoonfuls of baking soda

Add about a spoonful of dish soap

Add about 5 drops each of the red and yellow food coloring

Now for the eruption!:

Add about an ounce of the vinegar into the container and watch your volcano come alive.

Ones To Watch: Who were some of your biggest musical influences growing up?

Rush: When I was twelve I was given a stack of old jazz and R&B albums from my grandmother. My collection is now around two thousand records. I grew up listening to everything I could get my hands on, but I have a soft spot for the great front men like, Mercury, Strummer, Bowie, and Biafra.

Sears: I grew up in a home that tried to shelter me from certain types of music. Every time I got a record it felt like I was breaking the law, so I treasured each one I could sneak in. Some of my favorites would be; The Clash, Ramones, New Order, U2, The Cure, and Rage Against The Machine. I am actually also a big fan of musicals like Singing in the Rain and West Side Story, which were totally mom-approved.

Ones To Watch: "A priory is a monastery of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress." - Wikipedia. Please explain.

Rush: The Priory is also a rehab facility in North London. Neither of these things influenced us.

Ones To Watch: What was the first concert you ever went to, and what was it like?

Rush: I think it was the Mount Hood Jazz festival. I must of been 8 or 9 years old. Late that night once all of the main stage shows were over,  Leroy Vinnegar and Mel Brown set up in a little courtyard. I remember being transfixed on Leroy's upright bass.

Ones To Watch: What's your least favorite stereotype of Portlandia?

Rush: I am a Portland Native and that show is pretty spot on. It is true that if you forget to bring your own grocery bag to a place like New Seasons, Zuppans, or Whole Foods you do run the risk of "You don't need a bag for this, right?"

Ones To Watch: That said, if your music could soundtrack any show on television right now, what would it be?

Rush: Some of our favorite shows are True Detective, Orange is the New Black, and, of course, Game of Thrones.

Sears: “Red Wedding” with a Priory song in the soundtrack - that would have been awesome.

For more on Priory, visit their Facebook here.