Pleasure Symbols’ Jasmine Dunn: “Colin Wilson’s The Outsider and.. Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help.. ended up proving to be great influencing texts”

Original photo by Pierangela Hidalgo. Handmade mixed-media collage by B.

Brisbane’s post-punk, ethereal, goth rockers Pleasure Symbols levelled up and really came into their own with last year’s release Closer And Closer Apart, a moody dream-pop affair. We’re excited to see where they go next, the band have been writing new material. We interviewed bassist-vocalist Jasmine Dunn.

How did you first discover music?

JASMINE DUNN: Slowly, it was always more of a background noise in my earlier years with some significant moments of discovery thrown in. I remember watching my parents dancing to Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ in the living room and realising that people can have sentimental attachments to music. On the flip side to that, I grew up in the 90’s so there was a lot of really cringe worthy pop music on the radio and on TV. I learned to dig deep!

How did the creative process begin with your first full-length, Closer and Closer Apart?

JD: I reached out to Steven to see if he would be interested in helping me record what I originally anticipated to be a solo body of work, we had only met once prior to that conversation so the direction for everything was still very unknown. The idea of a solo record quickly moved into talks of a collaboration between Pleasure Symbols and his project Locust Revival, which then evolved again into having him come on board as a guitarist to work on a Pleasure Symbols album, so we began writing and getting to know each other from there.

Photo by Pierangela Hidalgo.

Sound-wise Closer and Closer Apart is quite different from your first self-titled EP, you’ve gone from a more synth-based dark-wave style to a more guitar-orientated dream-pop, shoegaze style; what influenced this evolution?

JD: Four years between writing and then bringing in Steven on guitar meant Closer and Closer Apart was never going to sound like anything previously released under the Pleasure Symbols name. The EP is very primitive overall and I was keen to push the sound further to better represent our influences and songwriting capabilities. We still have a lot more to learn and a lot further to reach, but we’re getting there!

‘Image Reflected’ is one of our favourite tracks on C&CA; can you tell us a little about writing it?

JD: On the weekends I’d drove over to Steven’s place and we’d start with nothing, maybe a very loose idea and have a song or two close to completion in just a couple of hours. It was kind of surreal how easily we were writing together and I kept wondering if these songs were going to turn out horribly because of how easily they were coming together! I’ve never had such ease in songwriting before and I think a lot of that comes down to the trust and respect we have for one another. For ‘Image Reflected’ Steven had programmed the drums the day before I had come over and a good portion of the song really wasn’t changed much from the first take we did.

Do lyrics come easy for you? Who’s one of your favourite songwriters?

JD: Unfortunately not, I hesitate because I want the lyrics to perfectly articulate a feeling or a mood that’s driving each song. Sometimes there’s too many thoughts or it’s a lost moment in time and trying to catch those fleeting moments can be difficult. When it happens though, it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling. I mostly read to inspire lyrics and to get myself into the right headspace and I was pouring through a lot of Roland Barthes in particular while writing for the record. I came across a very well loved, second-hand copy of Colin Wilson’s The Outsider and my best friend had lent me Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help. Both of these books also ended up proving to be great influencing texts for me at the time.

We love the Closer… album cover; what’s the story behind the cover image?

JD: The photograph was taken by a friend of mine Haydn Hall who would hide out inside this restaurant on the Lower East Side in New York. The photo resonated with me as writing had already begun for the record so I had some idea in which direction we were heading sonically. It’s simple and unassuming with a soft focus. It feels like the calm before the storm.

Multiple Man did a remix of the song ‘Endless’; how did that collab come about?

JD: Chris Campion is an old friend from when we both lived in Brisbane, plus he recorded and mixed the very first Pleasure Symbols demos so there is a bit of history there! He asked to do a remix a while back but it took a little while for me to bounce it across to him in New York.

Last year PS toured Europe; what was one of the coolest things you saw in your travels?

JD: We drove the whole leg so we were exposed to a lot, but we saw so much and loved our time spent there, it’s hard to narrow it down! We hope to be back as soon as we can.

Is there anything you’ve been listening to a lot lately? We love finding new things to listen to!

JD: There’s some new Locust Revival tracks that more people should hear, as well as the new SDH record I’m really enjoying too. Still spinning the latest Tempers record too, that’s an incredible album.

Have you been working on anything new lately?

JD: Yes! We’re currently writing for the new record.

Lastly, what do you love most about making music?

JD: It’s a love/hate relationship for the most part, but it’s a vessel to create and a compelling medium to capture a moment in time and that has to be worth something.

Please check out: PLEASURE SYMBOLS. Closer And Closer Apart out via AVANT!

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