We connect with the creative polymath, dissecting her past, present and future, and the making and meaning behind her superb new LP.

Photography by Ashley Osborn

Photography by Ashley Osborn

PVRIS is, like many creatives, searching for answers. Perhaps to the unanswerable. She’s in London on a press tour, playing a smattering of shows and doing the odd record signing, taking time out of her schedule to meet me in central London. She arrives early with her publicist, a measured yet dreamy essence lying in the wake of her presence. She speaks softly, gregariously, contemplatively open in her actions and opinions. We settle down for a revealing conversation, as I allow her to encompass me in the curiosity of her nature and the nature of her curiosity.

From humble beginnings riding around the American East Coast playing dingy shows every weekend, to unveiling her mature, provoking and engrossing fourth studio album, EVERGREEN, the last decade has been quite the journey for Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, better known by her alias, PVRIS. The producer, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is an explorative and passionate polymath who has fought her entire career to uphold a sense of individuality, respect and authenticity, and with this new album – her strongest to date – it feels like the balance is tipping further in her favour than ever before.

Controlling her own sonic and thematic identity through an increased hand in production and a sharpened lyrical focus, EVERGREEN is perhaps the truest form of PVRIS that fans will have witnessed. Succinctly blending electronic, pop and rock characteristics with effortless finesse, the album explores contemporary life through an objective lens, reflecting on society and culture both in a personal and overarching manner.

Juxtaposition of nature and modernism flows through the project, in the lyrical themes and the musical choices, signifying Gunnulfsen’s questioning of social media, post-pandemic culture, technology and fame. Cascading and striking, EVERGREEN is the work of an artist taking control of their own narrative, gazing simultaneously inwardly at herself and her surroundings, and outwardly at the wider, evolving world that she finds herself immersed within.

During our fascinating conversation, PVRIS delves into the ups and downs of her quest towards artistic greatness, dissecting her past, present and future in the process. We talk the message of her music, the pressures of relevancy, and the making and meaning behind her superb new LP.


Read the exclusive interview…

How did you first discover your passion for writing and creating?
As a kid, my parents pushed us to entertain ourselves, find our own passions and choose our own destiny. When I got into middle school, there was a bunch of after school music classes to do. That’s when I started actively playing, performing and making music. By high school I was in the marching band. I was very involved with music and art at school, bouncing between the two.

Did you have an idea then about what kind of music you wanted to make? What were you listening to at that point?
I was listening to movie soundtracks because my parents wouldn’t support anything with parental advisory. Naturally they are pretty eclectic.

How did you find your sound?
I’m still finding it. But I always follow what feels exciting, what feels interesting, but not just for the sake of doing something interesting. I like to play a lot with natural and organic sounds and how you can merge them together. I feel like that’s always kind of been the DNA for PVRIS. It’s still what inspires me now, how to accentuate different parts of production and mess with the balance of it.

Was songwriting natural to you?
I don’t think so, no. It’s something I’m still uncovering now. It was more producing and arranging, the musical side of it. I never, as a kid, sat down at an instrument and wrote. When I was in middle school, I’d hide in the back of computer class and focus on instrumentation and a track and take it home and listen to it. For me, the production and the energy of a song really informs melody and mood.

How did you first begin building your career?
Basically when I was in high school there was a scene on the East Coast where I grew up, that all the kids were into. I started with an early rendition of PVRIS. We’d play local shows every weekend and met a manager. Then pretty much as soon as we graduated high school, we had a couple of offers for record deals. We were sent out on tour pretty much as soon as we were signed.

That must have been intense, to be thrown into the industry straight away – was it intimidating?
Yes and no. I think now, at this stage of my life, there’s a lot of lessons looking back on that period and realising that you can say no to things, and you don’t have to compromise your well-being for the sake of opportunity. We were just so excited to being touring and playing in front of people. It was such an exciting thing, it was never hard, it was never scary, we were just happy to be doing it. We stayed in Wall-mart parking lots, slept at truck stops I don’t know how many times.

Do you miss that period?
I miss it all the time. Definitely not health wise or cleanliness wise. But doing it – I still try find ways to road trip sometimes to get that fix.

How would you describe your essence as an artist? How does that reflect who you are as a person?
I just like to follow what feels exciting to me. That can be anything. I think that’s the essence of it, following these inklings. A DNA of PVRIS is mixing organic and live sounds with electronic and synthesised sounds. That’s always been really fun to me.

Would you say there’s a profound, overarching message to your music?
Whatever feels most potent, whether it’s really serious or really fun. That’s something I’m being more intentional now. When you’re young, I think it’s natural to go into your feelings and talk about depression or anxiety, or talk about love. But especially on this last album, I’ve looked out rather than looking in, and figuring out how looking outward makes me feel inwardly.

That feels like a more instinctive way of creating.
Yeah it is, it’s instinctive, its reactionary. Following the first impression, whether it’s with something visual or musical.

Does that reflect who you are as a person?
No. I think in my personal life I’m really organised and cautious.

That seems like the perfect combination to me.
Maybe, but it might also be conditioning from tour since I was 18, and feeling that life is easier when you’re organised. I think I’m wired to be more instinctive, but to avoid many messy situations I always try to opt for the safe route.

Your sound has progressed a lot recently, and it feels like there’s a wider range of influences whilst being more succinct. How have you achieved that?
A big thing has been having a heavier hand in production, whether that’s me doing it directly or with another producer. I’m able to be a lot more intentional with it now that I’ve got the knowledge and terminology; I can hone in my vision.

Your sound is really encompassing. Do you think about that, tone and timbre wise, taking the listener away from their reality?
Definitely. I want to take them away from somewhere or slam them down in reality. Then I think there’s a dreaminess to a lot of it, being transported to somewhere. I think naturally that’s what happens. In my head, I’m daydreaming in a different world half the time, so I think my music naturally reflects that.

You’ve done this a couple of the times now, the album release cycle. Does it get easier? Is this the album you feel most confident about?
Yes and no. Confident in the way that I know what is expected from me as an artist from management and label etc, but I think it is harder on the artist/listener side.

There’s a part of me that’s very aware of the fact that I wouldn’t be here without people listening to my music, so in a way I want to make sure they’re happy. But there’s the other side where I’m not going to compromise creativity and art for the sake of selling it. It’s a thin line to dance on. I always try and block that part out and believe it’s going to resonate.

Is there a fear that the old fans won’t understand the new direction?
I try and think of it in the ebb and flow of life; it happens in friendships/relationships too, there’s just some people that you don’t resonate with anymore. It doesn’t have to be a harsh ending, it just isn’t working right now, maybe it’ll come back round. If I was to do one thing forever… what’s the point of that?

What was the process of creating the new album?
I went offline for like a year, just to absorb the world. The longer I was offline, though, the more anxious I got. Which was interesting and something dissect in itself and has merged into the album a bit – the pressure of algorithms and having to post regularly and exist online, but realising that you are happier offline and that’s more conducive to being human.

I also drove across the country three or four times alone. Just to get my head right. I worked with a lot of different producers; half was going in with collaborators and half was starting it alone and finishing it with different collaborators. A big shift with this one was definitely having a heavier hand in production.

What is this album about, conceptually?
Definitely a lot of processing the world and the interest versus real life. There’s a lot of emphasis on control and a lack of control. There’s a theme of abrasive nothingness, which to me represents the internet. Juxtaposing against nature, which really inspires me, but it doesn’t feel conducive with the other things, and figuring out how to blend those together. How to find that balance.

It seems like you’re asking a lot of questions on the album – did you find the answer?
No… I don’t know if I’m supposed to.

How does the name of the record fit into the ideas across the project?
EVERGREEN, to me, means timeless. The title track was the first song I wrote for the album, it was the first inkling of like – what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in the industry, how do we consume things, why do we consume things the way that we do. We are in a culture that is so gratification based, so content driven and so fast. Evergreen has the sentiment of wanting to make something timeless and from the heart, and hoping it stands the test of time. There’s the visual themes, the stark white, simplicity, mixed with an escape into greenery.

There’s a lot of juxtaposition around the album then.
Yeah, which is also really prevalent in the production. There’s organic elements, there’s a lot of aggressive synthesised components too.

What are you trying to achieve with this album?
This record was to have fun and go back to instinct. Not that things weren’t based on that with the last few albums, but I went into this one with a fearless approach. That was a big thing that I wanted to accomplish with the record. I hope it resonates with anyone that it’s supposed to.

Was that something that previously you were restricted in doing – making exactly what you wanted to make?
In a way yeah. We came up in a heavier rock scene, those were the tours we were playing on. As great as that was, I think there’s a ceiling on what you can do sonically. That was always a pressure – if we strayed too far away from that, we could lose the thing we built. It’s been checking in with myself, figuring out what we actually want to make.

Where do you want to take your artistry?
I don’t know, I can’t say yet. I want to have some type of project that is very collaborative, working with a different artist for every song. I’d love to produce for others too, I don’t know if that’s as PVRIS or something else. That’s something I’ve started doing in the last year, which has been a really fun release. It refuels PVRIS’ music in a way. When you go in with a clean state and no expectation, it gives you a freedom and teaches you to open up again.

Photography by Ashley Osborn
Ben Tibbits