This week: Brite Futures shave their past off

When Seattle and music are mentioned together, obvious Nirvana and grunge comparisons are unavoidable. But arising from the smoke of long hair and flannel is a group of sprite young keeners, armed with a multitude of synthesizers, wild costumes, and quirky lyrics. Brite Futures (who, just after this interview, changed their name from the slightly more hilarious Natalie Portman's Shaved Head) sat down with me during the Vancouver stop of their Western Canada tour this summer. Promoting the re-release of their album Glistening Pleasure, the group were excited to be touring, pouring plenty of sweat, face paint and Cristal bottles filled with confetti into their performance.

The group was started by co-vocalists Luke Smith and Shaun Libman, and expanded to include keyboardists Claire England and David Price, and drummer Liam Downey Jr. The members all attended The Center School, an arts-focused prep school in Seattle. Sean recollects, "The school had an off kilter culture. There weren't really popular kids." Claire adds, "Our high school still is relatively new. Our class had 42 kids. You'd have to go out of your way to not know someone's name at graduation."

This lack of pretension pays off in their music, as their die-hard fans show up in droves to their shows, modeling themselves after songs such as "Beard Lust" and "Sophisticated Side Ponytail", and donning their own face paint.

On stage, Brite Futures tend to let loose and invoke their inner animals, but backstage before the show, the five demure individuals show a more introverted and self deprecating side that showcases their true identity as a group of friends just having a laugh. Half of their answers turn into inside jokes, but in the most endearing way possible. It starts to feel like more of a hangout than an interview. Every remark is laced with humour: when I ask how they'd explain their sound to their grandparents, Claire chimes in with, "I would say 'I gave you a CD a year ago, why haven’t you listened to it?,'" and the guys crack up.

When the word “influence” comes up, their faces light up as if they've heard this one a thousand times (and let's be real, they probably have.) Luke starts with "Sixties girl groups, The Beatles, classic pop songs under three minutes: the perfect gems. That’s what I really dig on." David sees a blend of "Curtis Mayfield and Black Sabbath," and Luke reverts to "Miley Cyrus and Miles Davis." Claire throws him a stunned look and says "Miley Cyrus? Really?" to which he responds, "They're next to each other in iTunes!" In reality, their songs are all of these and none of these at the same time.

Discussing their home of Seattle, Luke says, "We’re probably not part of the bearded indie-rock scene that is the most prevalent there. We're in a more brewing electro scene that never took off." Strangers and new fans assume they're from New York. Claire remembers the first Seattle shows: "People would say 'You're good, come back to town!'
We want people to know we’re from Seattle. It's important to us! We’re ‘new grunge!’"

With that thirst for acknowledgement in tact, Brite Futures kicked off the summer in a big fashion, alerting their fans literally overnight about the name change. As a method of reinvention and to shed their old band name, Brite Futures posted a video diary entry of themselves “breaking up” with Natalie Portman. In an email follow-up to our conversation, Luke explains, "We didn't want our band to be about the name, we wanted it to be about the music."

Ever changing, Brite Futures is on a path filled with surprises. Luke mentions, "We can kind of draw from everywhere because we don’t fit one specific thing. If we want digeridoo music, we'd do it." David's eyes perk up, and he says, "I can play the digeridoo! Next album?"

//JJ Brewis

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