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INTERVIEW: Powder Pink & Sweet (LA dream pop)

Powder Pink & Sweet is a LA-based Dream Pop band. After losing her mother in 2015, Cris Verso started the project as a solo outlet. After evolving into a quartet, they just released their debut album, an ethereal, atmospheric blanket with layered textures and ghostly vocals. We interviewed Cris for the release of Little Stories.

photo credit: Piper Ferguson

First of all, congratulations on your debut album. Little stories is a beautiful collection of ethereal and haunting songs. We'd like to know how Powder Pink & Sweet started as a solo project and then evolved into a quartet.

Thank you! I am glad you like them. I started experimenting with writing songs after one of my former bands, The Sleeping Car, broke up. I learned a little about playing guitar from my former bandmate in that band, Rafe Mandel (who also happens to be the artist who created the artwork for Little Stories!) and I started trying to write songs in Garageband on my Ipad. I have co-written songs in previous bands, but never all on my own. The Sleeping Car was a little bit on the shoegaze/dreampop side of music, so I discovered that my voice and my guitar skills would work well with a lot of delay and reverb. I also started writing electronic songs at the same time. When the songs materialized I thought that I would love to play these live and with band members. I don’t like playing alone and like having the camraderie of a band, as well as ideas and input from others.

Your debut album Little Stories was just released. Could you tell us about the process leading up to it?

I contacted an engineer I had worked with years ago in another band and he helped me start recording and mixing. The songs took a a few years to materialize as I wasn’t in any rush and I was learning and trying to decide what direction to to. It was just for fun and then turned into something more focused and serious.

Powder Pink & Sweet is a nod to The Cure. It is named after the song The Caterpillar. Why did you choose this name and how has Robert Smith's music influenced you as a band?

Oh boy! Well…..I am a Gen Xer who grew up in Los Angeles and had access to a great music subculture! One of our locals stations, KROQ back in the 80s was THE station for new and different music. I got in to Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc…all the 80s New Wave, Post-Punk, Dance and Goth (before that term was a term) via that station. I started playing bass guitar at 15 and The Cure’s basslines are amazing so I would try to learn them. I love the whimsical sensibilty of The Cure. They mix whimsy, love songs and dark themes very effectively. They were essential listening in my teenage years…and throughout my adult life. I do love Robert Smith, but Simon Gallup is such a huge influence as a bass player. But as a rather new guitarist, I love the sounds and textures of The Cure’s guitar. I am a big fan of the chorus pedal in bass and guitar.

As far as the name, I chose it because I love the playfulness of that song and the phrase “dust my lemon lies with powder pink and sweet” was just a fun phrase, and the way He sings it. To me, in regards to my music project, the name is kind of ironic. I am not all "powder pink and sweet” and my songs always have some sort of melancholy or dark undertone.

Upon listening to Little Stories, I felt like every song could be the soundtrack to a David Lynch film. The layered textures you create around your ghostly and dreamy vocals remind me of Julee Cruise. If Powder Sweet & Pink could be part of a Lynch movie, what would it be and why?

Well I am not sure which movie our music would fit, but my favorite film is Blue Velvet. Maybe Dreaming of Leaving would fit into Wild at Heart….a driving scene? That movie seems to have more energy than some of the others and that song maybe would fit. I think Secret Garden could fit into some of his films as well. I need to write more moody and slow songs for them to fit in to his films I think! Funny- I am not very familiar with Julee Cruise and a few people have commented that we sound a little like her. I only have heard the instrumental part of the Twin Peaks song!

My Fragile Heart is my favorite song on the album. It’s a real tear-jerker. Can you tell us more about the song and the meaning of it?

Oh, I am so glad! I love that song as well. The song is pretty much about not wanting to be heartbroken. Carl, my guitarist, started playing some chord arpeggio progressions one day at practice and he sent me the changes and I took it and ran. For me, the notes and sounds of the music bring up thoughts, feelings and images and I write them out and they turn to lyrics. I also usually fit words into nonsense sounds, so I think the title fit into something I hummed and then I thought about that phrase, “my fragile heart” and what words go with that phrase and then I organized it into a story of someone warning and pleading to someone else to not break their heart.

We try to paint a picture of LA's indie scene on Hanging On Sunset. There does not appear to be one unified scene, but rather micro-scenes spread out across the city. How would you describe the current scene? Do you think you belong to a particular scene and if so, who are the other artists in your tribe?

I am actually not sure about the scenes in LA! I know there are a lot. I don’t think we are part of any scene yet per se, but definitley fit in with bands that have a dreamy quality. There are a few out there playing around town that are really good.

Indie acts and venues were already struggling when the pandemic struck. What is the biggest challenge you face as a local artist?

We played our first two shows right before the shutdown. We were starting out and trying to get a momentum and then poof! nothing. We also lost two members during the pandemic due to different obligations and had to find and work in people to replace them in our live band, which took time, while working on recording and getting more songs ready to release.. So its just been trying to figure out how to get back out and the timing and connecting with venues and building relationships.

Are there any concert dates scheduled for Little Stories' release?

We are playing on November 18th at Corbin Bowl in Tarzana next.

- Vincent Walter Jacob


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