ABOVE: WHITE PRISM’S JOHANNA CRANITCH. PHOTO BY BENJAMIN STELLY
Dreamy, breathy vocals layered over uptempo beats and synthesized instrumentation that nimbly maneuvers between a sense of 21st-century melancholy and jubilation, without ever quite committing to either, characterize White Prism’s newest self-titled EP. “Dance On” has clear pop potential, while tracks like “Lover’s Dream,” a bold, ’80s-inspired ballad, bring a sense of the dramatic to the work.
But Johanna Crantich, the band’s lead singer and songwriter, hasn’t always been doing the synth-pop thing. She had actually written an entire EP of other, more “singer-songwriter” music, as she puts it. But after getting a call to go on tour with The Cranberries, she tabled that album, and when she came back to it nearly a year later, it had lost something. Tonight, after re-conceiving the EP, she’s performing at Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn.
CURRENT CITY: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
HOME COUNTRY: Australia
EDUCATION: Kodaly School of Music, Australian Institute of Music
MAD LOVE IN THESE BOROUGHS: I started out playing at Rockwood [Music Hall], and all of the people that I started out playing with are all touring musicians now, and I definitely feel like there’s a massive sense of community of New York musicians. Everybody knows each other, and if you don’t know the person, you know of the person—you know the name and who they’re playing with. I’m constantly getting people like, “Oh, I’m on tour with such-and-such and they said that they know you or used to play with you.” I actually just had this conversation with a friend of mine a week ago. I’m constantly feeling proud to be going on Facebook and seeing all of my friends saying, “I’m playing with Tegan and Sara tonight,” or “I’m singing backup for Sheryl Crow.” It’s cool. I feel like my generation is finally starting to get to a different level.
GLASSLANDS: I opened for Alpine there a few weeks ago, which was super cool, such a fun bill to be on. I love that venue. I think it’s an awesome addition to the Brooklyn scene. It’s been around for a long time. My ex-husband and I used to put on parties there before it was even legal. Before they even had a bar, we used to bring a cooler in with beer. I really am kind of sad that they’ve taken down the clouds. I haven’t seen it yet, but they announced that they were taking it down. When they first started, it was started as an art collective, so they would change it around all the time, and that was part of what was really charming about the space. So I’m kind of sad that they took the clouds down because they were so awesome, but it’s kind of good because they’re taking it back to what it started out being.
FRUIT FLY: I spent a year with The Cranberries last year doing backup for them. At the end of 2011, I recorded a whole record, and I was kind of ready to release it, and I got back from Europe in January to go on the road and it basically took up my whole year. It kind of stagnated that record that I did, 12 songs. It had to be put on hold because I wasn’t around to do any shows to support the release. I didn’t listen to it for a couple months, and when I was on a break over the summer, I went to visit my friend who was living in Iceland at the time. I went back to the record. I didn’t hate it, but it just didn’t feel right. So I shelved it and just sort of sat on my hands for a few days and thought, “Okay, now what am I going to do?”
A NEW DIRECTION: Iceland and I have a really great relationship. I don’t know what it is about that country, but whenever I go there, I just create. It’s really odd. I had two or three days where I was just sitting in my friend’s apartment and I was thinking, “Fuck, what am I going to do? I have to go meet the band and be in Europe in a few weeks.” I had this really weird dream one night and I woke up and all of a sudden all of this music flooded [in], and I did the whole record in a week.
NOW VS. THEN: It’s totally different. It’s really synth-pop. I was listening to a lot of Swedish pop groups—I know that’s really super popular right now—but also Icelandic bands like Bang Gang and also The Knife and iamamiwhoami. I think I was super influenced by those electronic beats. Usually with my other band, I would start writing at the piano and it would become this naturally singer-songwriter project. But when I started with beats, which this time is what I did, it took on a whole different role. I feel like it’s totally different. You can still hear that it’s me—I still sound like myself—but it’s totally different.