Lynn Gunn's Honest Portrayal of PVRIS' Past, Present and Future Plus Details on New LP 'Use Me' [Q&A]
Did you know that quicksand cannot really sink your entire body? Hollywood renditions of this frightening occurrence showcase "Indiana Jones" type heroes desperately reaching for a branch or a vine to evade being swallowed whole by the muddy foe. In real life, however, quicksand is much denser than the human body - namely your torso and lungs. So, although you may sink to some degree, you'll only be engulfed to about your torso region. That being said, to escape the hold of this mucky captor, you're called to utilize, not a vine or a stick, but a natural aspect of yourself - in this case, the buoyancy of your torso and lungs. Doing so allows you to adjust your positioning so that you are on your back and are therefore more easily able to free your legs and eventually, yourself.
During moments of crisis such as this, it is not often that we think to use what comes most natural to us in order to overcome difficulties. However, as PVRIS frontwomxn Lynn Gunn discovered, tuning into your natural inclinations can be exactly what sets you free.
After battling debilitating health issues, anxieties, and multiple album delays, the refreshingly new album Use Me is here, and it has the empowered LGBTQIA+ artist plastered all over it. From the distinctively raw lyrics, impassioned vocals, dexterous commixture of that classic PVRIS Alternative Rock and new-aged Glitch-pop, and even a 070 Shake feature, this new album is taking everything we thought we knew about PVRIS to much higher heights. Use Me serves as the first release since Gunn followed her heart and came forward as the sole architect behind PVRIS back in March. After listening to all 40 emotion-inducing minutes of this cinematic project, it becomes clear that Use Me is so much more than an album, it is an unapologetic reclamation of power.
We were able to speak with Lynn Gunn before the release of the album and gather her perspective on this new era of creativity, utilizing her natural abilities for this new project, and even on supporting social justice causes.
All quicksand jokes aside, sink into this interview with Lynn Gunn below:
Ones to Watch: Although you've been making music for quite some time, this new era seems to be of a new bloom, not only for PVRIS, but for you. As you have stated, PVRIS is still very much a collective, but you have decided to shed the skin of "band culture" and from it emerge as the sole vocalist, lyricists, and creative director of PVRIS. How has that transition been on you all? Are people taking to it the way that you imagined?
Lynn Gunn: I didn't really imagine anyone taking it any way, to be honest, it's happening regardless of what others want to say or feel about it. It's felt great personally and as a unit. I've seen mostly support but obviously, with anything, there's always going to be people with the opposite. At the end of the day, this is what this is moving forward and works best for us, I know my truth and what this journey has been and looked like so far. I've seen so many insane and comical theories and conspiracies about the transition/negative comments... but ultimately I think anyone who decides to wastes their energy like that might find their life to be much more enjoyable if they channeled that energy back into their own life as there's clearly a lack/wound somewhere within themselves. If that seems sprinkled with "shade", it is, but I mean that with the most sincerity as well.
The saying goes "you can never really outrun yourself", and from White Noise to Use Me, it seems that you've left a bit of a breadcrumb-trail leading us to this point. Although PVRIS has primarily been recognized as an Alternative Rock "band", we can hear tiny glimpses of the sound that best encompasses PVRIS now throughout your entire discography. Was this glitch-pop, disco-esque sound something you were intentionally experimenting within your previous projects?
To be honest, this is always where I imagined PVRIS's sound living and the type of production I'd heard PVRIS songs being told through. I think in the past I didn't fully know how to communicate the little production nuances that would have taken some tracks from point A to B, there was also a fear (that I now regret having) about straying from the "rock" production/experiencing rejection from the "scene" we initially started playing shows and touring in.
For the most part, and I truly mean this, there really isn't that much of a difference in the instrumentation and sonic choices of this album from the first two, it's still a very even play of organic instruments and electronic/synths, it's just being produced through a different lens that's a bit cleaner, crisper and crunchier in some areas. It's a new interpretation of the woodwork that's always been there.
What has kept you motivated to continue creating and sharing your truth with the world?
That's a great question because I go back and forth with that feeling sometimes... Ultimately seeing comments from fans/listeners and hearing everyone's stories and ways that they connect to PVRIS's music is the most motivating thing in the world. I also feel that no matter what type of obstacle course the universe wants to throw me through, I'm always going to be grateful for the bruises/lessons and always going to feel compelled to create and share those truths through music.
I understand you've run into a deluge of unfortunate health issues the past few years that have affected you and the band greatly. If you feel comfortable sharing, could you talk a little bit about these illnesses and the ways you have had to overcome the obstacles they brought forth to get you to where you are now?
Totally comfortable sharing! I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) about two years ago and then about a year ago was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. AS is an inflammatory disease that mainly attacks the lower back, hips, and ribs, but it can also manifest in a lot of other ways as well such as joint pain, chronic fatigue, and even eye issues. Sometimes when my AS is really bad, I can barely get out of bed or even roll over in bed. Over time, if not treated properly or managed, it can cause your vertebrae to fuse… I've heard that's super rare though. Crohn's is chronic inflammation in the digestive tract and is a little more embarrassing but pretty self-explanatory haha...
They definitely taught me (and by taught I mean forced me) to take time in caring for myself and caring for my body. Resting properly, staying in shape, eating super healthy, setting boundaries with work, etc. It's also just made me really appreciative of the moments when my symptoms aren't as bad/just happy to be alive and not have it worse. I'm determined to manage both diseases holistically and through integrative medicine, so far I've seen great progress.
Do you believe these difficulties aided in your journey towards this self-actualization that listeners are able to distinguish in this new era of PVRIS? If so, how/in what way?
Definitely! There are definitely some references to those difficulties in a few of the songs. I think outside of the music, it's given a lot more self-love, strength, and patience. It's also just created even more urgency to live my truth and to live it unapologetically in the way that I want, which naturally extends into PVRIS and the art that I want to make.
If you had to use one word to describe each album thus far, what words would you use and why?
White Noise - Freshman - everything was so new and exciting and there was so much eagerness with it, like a freshman walking through a high school for the first time haha.
All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell - Bootcamp (haha) - creating it and touring it were both pretty hard experiences BUT incredibly strengthening.
USE ME - Upgrade - despite all the chaos around this release, this is the freest I've felt and the most confident I've felt about a PVRIS album.
All the visuals and music video treatments that you have conjured up have a strikingly symbolic and cinematic feel to them. However, the symbolism and tone of the music videos tied to Use Me seem to take on a different nature. Can you talk about this shift in creative expression?
Mostly just working with new collaborators (Yhellow, Katharine White and Griffin Stoddard). I feel a lot less precious about things (to a healthy degree) and much more open to letting others run with the concepts as they wish! So many fun new exciting perspectives have been able to shine through.
I know you are a film fanatic and dabble in cinematography. Do you have any staple films that influenced the creation of the last five music videos?
The Holy Mountain was a big influence for the "Hallucinations" video, as well as [for] "Old Wounds". For "Dead Weight", I was actually inspired by the opening credits to That 70's Show and Saturday Night Fever haha.
In July, you announced that the album was being pushed back so as to allow the floor for the amplification of Black voices, and to generate events in support of Black Lives Matter. Do you believe artists have a responsibility to take steps such as these to create a better future, regardless of whether or not these issues directly affect them?
Absolutely. We all need to be educating ourselves and actively doing the work to demand and create change towards a future that's equal and just for Black lives.
Fans have been clinging to the edges of their proverbial seats waiting for Use Me in spite of all of the justifiable album delays. If you could relay one message to all the fans who have been patiently waiting, what would it be?
Please enjoy/connect, be good to each other and please please please vote if you are able!
Who are your Ones to Watch?
DRAMA, Jax Anderson, HDBeenDope, Royal and The Serpent, Nikki Hayes, Kat Cunning and LEXXE!