A disarming reflection on the emotional resilience that’s required in the wake of a bad decision, Dublin-based trio Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra shared their single ‘Empty Envelope’ via Anon Records in September last year. The brooding, shoegazey lament was inspired by a dream that vocalist & guitarist Sarah Deegan had about receiving an empty letter in the post, and today (12th Jan) the band have shared an accompanying video, shot & edited by Irish artist Hollie Gilson, further exploring the song’s narrative of unsaid things.
We caught up with Sarah to talk about creating the new video, how Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra first came to meet and what we can expect from the band in 2022…
Can you remember who or what inspired you to start making your own music?
I remember CDs. I loved the tactile nature of it; putting the CD on and flicking through the lyric booklet while listening, finding your own meaning in the songs. I remember listening to the whole album and not just one song. I remember the music channels on TV, the emo ones of course. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the music video for Evanescence ‘Bring Me To Life’ or Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’.
Neither will we, that’s some iconic 00s imagery. For anyone who doesn’t know, can you explain how Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra first met?
The band has changed about 9 times since its original conception, so it’s kind of hard to say, but I first met Danni about 5 years ago through being friends with her brother. I was in their house and mentioned needing a drummer for some college performance thing I was doing. He said it to her at the kitchen table, and she said that she was up for it. About 20 minutes later I could hear Danni out in the shed playing the song. She’s just a legend. On bass, we’ve recently enlisted Sarah Michelle, who is well known for her guitar playing skills. She’s amazing at bass too.
You’ve teamed up with artist Hollie Gilson (who directed the video for your previous single ‘I didn’t love you when I said I did and I don’t now”) to create the video for ‘Empty Envelope’. Talk us through some of the highlights of working with Hollie again…
Me and Hollie are really good friends, so that makes the process a lot easier. We always do 4 or 5 drafts before a video is final. We spend time watching it, we show others, and consider their feedback. It’s important to have people around us that we can bounce off. This video is a lot more abstract than the last one, there’s no clear timeline in it. We focused more on letting the imagery tell the story.
When you released the single back in 2021, you said that the image of the ‘Empty Envelope’ was inspired by a dream you had, and the lyrics to the track are based around the “cyclical nature of bad decisions.” Talk us through how you chose to reflect these things in the accompanying video…
The start of the video is pretty much exactly like the dream. In the dream, I got a letter in the post. The envelope was painted with swirls of blue and pink. It was the most beautiful envelope I had ever seen. It was from my ex, I could see their name and return address in the corner. I opened it and it was completely blank. Just a really nice looking envelope with absolutely nothing inside. I thought that was a good metaphor for the relationship.
We used wringing hands in the video to portray anxiety and nervous energy. The protagonist attempts to write a response to the empty letter, but this only leads to more frustration. Frustrated and alone, they take their piles of paper and burn them, along with the letter.
The track is an ode to moving on, and this is reflected with the imagery of the train. But moving yourself physically doesn’t change anything, in a new place the cycle of bad decisions continues. It takes something a bit more dramatic (like burning everything) to really break a pattern.
PCRO are working on a debut album at the moment. What details can you tell us about the record?
We’ve been working on this album for the last 2 years with Sean Montgomery Dietz, who is an insanely talented producer/engineer/musician. We’re recording mainly in Crossroads, a studio owned by Shane Tobler in Kilkenny. Parts of the album were also recorded in Dublin, at the Annesley House, and in Clare and Drogheda. We teamed up with some really talented musicians who played orchestral instruments on a couple of tracks, Ali Comerford on violin and Karima Dillon El-Toukhy on flute. A combination which I can only describe as majestic.
Most of the songs were written in Mayo, where I’m from. The album takes you on a journey through growing up, the confrontation of idealism and the real world, asserting your independence and getting your heart broken. It’s an honest reflection on the confusion of youth, and talks openly with both sensitivity and cynicism.
We’re really taking our time with this, and I can tell you that, unlike a lot of new albums, every song is a proper song. Long songs, with long titles, that don’t really care for the modern lack of attention span. There has been some debate about whether or not the album will be uploaded to Spotify.
That sounds great, we can’t wait to hear it. Aside from releasing the album, what are your hopes and ambitions for PCRO for 2022?
To play as many shows as the pandemic permits, to just keep doing what we’re doing.
Finally, are there any bands or artists you’re listening to who you’d like to recommend we check out?
Another Anon Records artist to watch this year is OG CNT & the 1240. OG CNT is a WhatsApp famous counter-cultural anti-hero. Tracks like ‘HATE’ and ‘Everybody that I know’ are unforgettable. His album, The Memoirs of OG CNT, will be out this year too.
Thanks to Sarah for answering our questions!
Watch the new video for ‘Empty Envelope’ below.
Photo Credit/Video Still: Hollie Gilson