Puff LP: In the air without a shape, out May 25 via Arts & Crafts, is Bernice tackling pop minimalism; the stripped-down album touches on jazz as much as the enigmatic mix of pop, electronic, and R&B with their unique air of playfulness. Sitting between Enya, Julia Holter, Chairlift, and Deerhoof where clear vocal melodies fly kites over spare arrangements, Bernice’s new album attempts to mimic the playful intimacy of the band’s live show.
“Our goal was to capture how we really sound,” says songwriter/vocalist Robin Dann of the new album, “Some people in a room, playing music together.”
Recording the album to tape at Breakglass Studios in Montreal, the band fell in love with the open spaciousness of the studio and how much it allowed them to connect whilst performing. “The vocal booths have sightlines to the band room through windows. We did live takes of each song to tape. We could look at each other, try different things, mostly we got each song in a few takes,” said Dann of the recording process.
Born to a musical family, the daughter of a symphony harpist and the former Toronto Symphony Orchestra's principal violist, and a graduate of Goldsmiths' MA in Music, Dann's background, formal training, and experimental sensibilities developed into Bernice's sparse arrangements and pop-minded songwriting, often following curious and unexpected paths.
Bernice’s members and collaborators include longtime Owen Pallett collaborator Thom Gill (keyboard/sampler) as well as Daniel Fortin (bass), Philippe Melanson (drums), and Felicity Williams (supporting vocals). All are professional musicians from Toronto's music community and members of Owen Pallett, DIANA, John Southworth, Bahamas, Martha Wainwright, The Barr Brothers, and many others.
Bernice have been performing actively since late 2010 and have released one full-length album (what was that, 2011), an EP (when I know how to climb, 2013), and a “cassingle” in 2015, all released independently. Bernice’s 2017 breakout Puff EP on Arts & Crafts was praised by Pitchfork (“intricate, dream-like music from deeply emotional lyrics and woozy electronic beats”), NPR ("deeply textured, largely experimental songs filled with wondrous and mysterious sounds"), Stereogum (Best EPs of 2017), Exclaim (#1 EP of 2017), Pigeons and Planes (“one of the most interesting bands out of Toronto right now”), The FADER, Noisey, Zane Lowe, and more.