White Poppy: The Wavelength Interview

File next to: Peaking Lights, Walter TV, Maria Minerva
Purveyor of: Gritty guitar, distorted dreams

Crystal Dorval’s Bandcamp page for her musical project White Poppy proclaims: “EXPERIMENTAL THERAPEUTIC POP.” Based in Vancouver, she is signed with west coast DIY, cassette-tape gurus Not Not Fun Records, who release a lot of her music, including her first full-length and self-titled album last September. White Poppy’s sound is defined by its repetitious, sometimes guttural, sometimes psychedelic guitar rhythms, and the ghostliness of layered vocals. Crystal’s voice makes her music gentle even at its heaviest. The videos that accompany her tracks are appropriately lo-fi, superimposing images on other images. Some comments on YouTube include : “very trippy” and “I’m 20, but this makes me feel 15.” Nice! Crystal has been touring around Eastern Canada leading up to NXNE, and Emma Fox asked her questions about stuff.

Hey Crystal, how is the tour going right now? Is the experience different from your recent European tour?

The tour is going good! It’s nice to connect with the other side of Canada in person finally. This tour, however, is part vacation, so I have a lot of time off, which makes it a very different experience than when I was in Europe playing a show every night in a new city.

Going back in time, how did you start out making music? What drew you to Not Not Fun Records eventually?

I started out playing guitar as a teenager. I found out about Not Not Fun from getting into albums they had put out.

Where did the name White Poppy come from?

The White Poppy is a symbol of peace. I thought the name was fitting for the project, since I aim to create music that induces a sense of inner tranquility and peace.

You describe your music as “experimental.” What kind of experiments would you say are going on in it?

Well “experimental” has become a bit of blanket term. I use it as an easy way to sum up that the music isn’t just straightforward pop or rock music. That being said, I do enjoy keeping my creative processes playful. I think that is the same as experimenting. Trying new ways of doing things, exploring, and finding ways to think outside of your own box.

You did a collaboration tape with Samantha Glass over the Internet. What is a long-distance music relationship like? How did you deal?

It’s pretty normal to me now, because I have met lots of musician friends over the Internet who I end up working with on projects via the Internet. Many of them I haven’t met in person even. The whole concept is very sci-fi seeming to me. Computer alias friendships.

Videos and visuals seem to be an important part of what you produce, e.g. the video for “Wish and Wonder.” To what extent are you involved in these?

I am usually very involved with the visuals for my music. I like to make music videos and collaborate with filmmakers. The ‘Wish and Wonder’ video however is very much Pierce McGarry (Walter TV)’s thing. I love all the videos he does, so I trusted his creative vision and left it up to him to do his thing.

What is great about cassette tapes in your opinion?

They are cheap to make and buy and they have that lovely warm sound.

Are you working on anything currently?

I am basically a creative project-a-holic, so I am never really not working on “something.” When I get home from this tour, my plan is to record. I feel very inspired to work behind the scenes and take a break from playing shows for a while.

White Poppy plays the Wavelength NXNE showcase tonight at The Great Hall tonight at 11PM