by Julia Cirignano
Pale Dian is a fairly new band consisting of Ruth Ellen, Derek Kutzer, and Nicholas Volpe. I was given the chance to interview them before the release of their debut LP, Narrow Birth, on June 1st. Although this will be their first album under the name Pale Dian, the group used to perform as Blackstone Rngrs. A lot has changed since then. Kutzer says that, “I think the main thing we have come to a realization about since Blackstone Rngrs is that for whatever reason Ruthie and I have a sound or a vibe whenever we get together to play our instruments. It’s always been there, it’s just much more self aware now.”
The band has grown both as a whole, and on individual levels. Ellen comments on her development by saying, “Since then, I have developed my vocal style, started reflecting more on song structure, and learned through trial and error a consistent monitoring situation.”
The band is still experimenting with freedom of genre and style, yet they have honed in on one particular sound. Kutzer explains that they have now set solid guidelines for themselves through self discovery, “but we now know we are emotional, we know we want to replicate darker, melancholy moods, and we have full confidence to bring those things out and show them to our fellow humans.” The band is aware of what they want their music to sound like, and they have also accepted themselves for who they are: emotional, yet talented.
Now that the band has found their sound, they have matured on to a new name: Pale Dian. The meaning behind this new name is both comical and philosophical. Kutzer explained how the “pale” part stems partially from the fact that Ellen is pale, “She was born in Texas and has lived here her whole life, and we often joke about how it is completely the wrong climate for her! The harsh sun is going to shrivel her into a crisp!” As for the ‘dian” part, Ellen says “it has two meanings- moonlight or candlelight, depending on how you choose to pronounce it. Dianne vs Dēan. Either way it is a more feminine representation of our night dwelling selves.”
During the band’s transformation into Pale Dian, they started using both drum machines and samples (similar to a synthesizer, but it uses sounds that the musician records). Kutzer says that they first started using a drum machine after letting their drummer go, “After that decision we realized we did not want to “replace” him with another conscience, emotional being. We started playing with drum machines, [….] and we found that a drum machine delivers the sound we want.”
Ellen also comments on the positive outcomes of using a drum machine: “Our DM is consistent in every way. We don’t have to rely on the house to EQ our drums just right, they will always kick you in the chest and our snare will always cut your ears. There are some limitations but very few honestly.” Although the band still gets questioned on their decision to use a drum machine opposed to a human drummer, they know themselves well enough to be confident in their decision. The drum machines conveys the type of sound they like and want for the music.
When I ask Kutzer and Ellen about the main message of the band, they agreed that there isn’t one main, message, but they both had beautiful things to say on the subject. Ellen explains that while they have no goal in mind, “the more we perform the more I realize how emotionally intense some people react to us. It’s quite dignifying. People cry often, which to me means that we are authentically performing and have connected with someone in a deep way that conveys some beauty whether it takes form as sorrow, bliss, or rage. I find it unifying in human emotion. My music is definitely a form of therapy so if it helps release something in someone else I am very gratified.”
Speaking as a true artist, Kutzer says “it’s more like walking alone through a damp forest, or escaping to a serene high country lake. It’s like seeing people die and also seeing beauty. It’s about confronting beauty and decay. I would hope that the message means different things for different people, for it certainly means different things to us, internally, within the band. I know that is vague, but I feel that nature is vague, and it gives off many different messages depending on an individual’s mood and state of mind. It is definitely not here to coddle us. It will engulf you in a catastrophe and it will kiss you softly.”
Both band members agree that their goal for the future is just to survive, but also while writing “music that impacts people emotionally.” Don’t miss their show at Bourbon & Branch on Monday, July 11th. Enjoy the emotional turmoil that they are willing to go through for their music, and for the benefit of their fans.