Piper Durabo Talks Maraschino, Collaborations, and the Future
Piper Durabo has long been a favorite artist here at WMF thanks to her stellar work as one half (along with Skylar Kaplan) of sibling duo Puro Instinct. 2016's Autodrama was a standout release that year, and we were fortunate enough to catch the band on tour in support of the album. We hadn't heard much in the way of new music from Piper since then, however, so we were delighted when news of her latest project Maraschino surfaced. As if that weren't enough, Maraschino debuted as a live act recently at Deno's Wonder Wheel in Coney Island (as part of a stellar lineup consisting of John Maus, Tommy Wright III, Geneva Jacuzzi, Gary War, and Superstar & Star at the Red Bull Music Festival). Eager to touch base with Piper and get first-hand info on that event, possible new music, and past collaborations, we fortunately caught up with her and discussed all this and more.
Bobby Weirdo: Puro Instinct is one of my favorite bands. I've enjoyed seeing Puro play over the years, and Autodrama is one of my favorite albums from 2016. I'm afraid to ask, but is Puro Instinct over?
Piper Durabo: Thanks, Bobby! Glad to hear there’s a place in your heart for Puro. We’re on vacation right now, but maybe we’ll go back to work...it’s just so peaceful out here in the Dalmatian Islands. Hard to imagine leaving, you know?
BW: You played a show on May 4 as part of the Red Bull Music Festival, debuting your Maraschino project. It was a great lineup on that bill, with artists that really make sense together (John Maus, Tommy Wright III, Geneva Jacuzzi, Gary War, and Superstar & Star). How did that show come about?
PD: I’m guessing Red Bull approached John to curate a show and I was lucky enough to get invited. I think it might have been the raddest show I’ve ever played. The lineup was insanely killer, a bunch of the rides at Deno’s were scored by John, and it was just really nice to be able to perform by the beach at sunset, you know? Everybody put on such a great show and the vibe was awesome. I kinda felt like I was in a scuzzy Coney-via-Jodorowsky fantasia.
BW: You've been on the same bill as John Maus in the past, and he even analyzes a Puro Instinct song in his doctoral dissertation, Communication and Control. What's the background to your connection?
PD: Ariel indirectly introduced us at some point before John and Puro co-headlined an Altered Zones showcase at SXSW 2011. That’s where we officially met, and we really hit it off from there, toured the U.S. together along with Geneva Jacuzzi, and have been good friends since. John and his crew are like family; I really love those guys.
BW: You mention Ariel Pink, and over the years the two of you have had several creative intersections: He's on the Puro track "Stilyagi", you appear in the video "Only in My Dreams", and you contributed vocals for Pom Pom. I've also seen him perform live with you. Those are just off the top of my head, and I'm sure I'm missing other collaborations. How far back do you go with Ariel?
PD: Ariel and I go way back. Apparently he used to go to my mom’s goth clothing store Quasi Glam in the early 90s. It was on Melrose Avenue and I guess he would go there after school with his girlfriend or something. I was around four or five at the time, most likely drawing or playing with Barbies in the dressing room, completely unaware that one day we’d be twizzling into the sunset together.
BW: Is Maraschino an extension of your work in Pearl Harbor/Puro Instinct, or is it a break in a new direction? As a solo project rather than a duo, how has the process writing and recording for this project been different?
PD: There’s some natural overlap between Puro and Maraschino... they’re definitely from the same Venusian-Uranian love asylum. The writing and recording process differs mainly in that I do all of it, at least for now.
BW: Is there a significance to the new project name, Maraschino?
PD: Sure - It's playful, sexy, artificial, high fructose...a mixed bag of bubblegum, glam, and trash - just the way I like it.
BW: Was most of the material you played at the Coney Island show part of the new project?
PD: Yeah, I played all new songs and a cover of Delta 5’s “Mind Your Own Business”. My friend Courtney Garvin [a.k.a. Toucan] joined me on flute, Jason Klauber [of Acrylics] played guitar, and Jonathan [Thompson] from John Maus’s band was on drums. They are all so brilliant, man. I’m so lucky to have been able to share the stage with them.
BW: What can we expect from Maraschino in the near future? Will there be additional upcoming live dates?
PD: I’m working on a full length right now and lining up some more live dates soon.
BW: Franco Falsini made an appearance on Autodrama. Were you familiar with his work before his visit to L.A. during that time, and what is your recollection of working with him?
PD: Yeah. I actually met Franco in 2012 through my friend Josh da Costa [of Confusing Mix of Nations]. I was already a huge fan of Sensations' Fix and The Antennas, so it was kind of a massive deal for me. We'd cruise around L.A. in our friend Jamen's (Confusing Mix of Nations) van to run random errands and hang out at my old place in Glendale and Josh & Jamen's place in Highland Park. It was a really fun period in LA.
In August of 2012, Franco, Sky and I performed a lost Puro song called “Stillborn in the USSA” with a senior contortionist named Amazing Amy at Body Actualized in Brooklyn. Sky and Franco were doing insane guitar dueling while Amazing Amy twisted herself into a variety of very impressive pretzel shapes. It was fun and the audience was satisfyingly overwhelmed. For the Autodrama record, I hit up Franco to see if he wanted to record some guitar for "Panarchy" and to our delight he was down and sent something over in like a day or something. He's a truly magical dude and I wish I could see him more often.
BW: Are you in New York or L.A. these days? What has been your experience in recent years in both cities, as far as your involvement with music, ability to create, etc.?
PD: I’m in L.A. for the foreseeable future. I was in New York for a while and will hopefully bounce back and forth indefinitely because I love both places for different reasons. They’re equally fun, inspiring, and twisted with plenty of songs to squeeze out of them.
BW: Besides live dates and a Maraschino album, what else will you be working on in 2018, and 2019?
PD: Who knows, but ideally more live dates and albums?
WMF will be sure to check in with Maraschino in the coming months for updates on new music and live dates.