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(All photos courtesy of Mark Squires. Styled by Courtney Lynne Garvin.)



“So rainbow-sided,
touch’d with miseries.”
– John Keats, Lamia, 1884

Hollywood is a devil of a town. To grow up there is another story altogether, the isolating
echoes of hollow dreams howling down your own street—into your home. Trouble will find you
if you grow up here, there’s no question of that. It’s what you do with that trouble that makes
Hollywood natives such an interesting breed. The avant-pop composers Piper and Skylar Kaplan
a.k.a. Puro Instinct pay homage to that Hollywood on their sophomore LP Autodrama.

The story of Puro Instinct is an unusual one: on a visit to New York, Piper befriended
reclusive outsider musician R. Stevie Moore, who showed her that making music shouldn’t be
intimidating. Full of ideas and inspiration, Piper headed back to L.A., where her 13-year-old
sister Sky—who was about to start studying experimental theatre at the performing arts incubator
L.A. County High School for the Arts (LACHSA)—had been teaching herself guitar since age

Broke and bored, the sisters started jamming on the “borrowed” instruments their
musician friends had left around their house. It was evident early on that Skylar’s trembling
guitar would perfectly complement Piper’s physical, Nicks-ian vocals. On hearing their demos,
Mexican Summer records quickly signed them, and released their debut EP, Something About
the Chaparrals, in 2009.

Soon, they were on a national tour with Ariel Pink—Skylar just 15 years old, and Piper
22. Puro Instinct’s debut album, Headbangers in Ecstacy, was released soon after the tour. The
single “Stilyagi,” which loosely translates to “outsider” in Russian, featured Ariel Pink on
backing vocals, and an easy, swirling chorus. In support of the Headbangers LP, Puro Instinct set
out on an American tour with John Maus and Geneva Jacuzzi in 2011. The sisters brought their
sound to Europe shortly after.

House producer SFV Acid joined the group for a brief period, and French electro
producer Strip Steve invited the sisters to guest on a 12” single, “Astral Projection,” in 2012.
Pharaohs’ Alejandro Cohen produced a balearic new single, “Dream Lover.” Puro Instinct took
this new confident sound to Australia in 2012, where they toured, and played This is Nowhere
Festival in Perth, to great acclaim. The sisters ended up spending a month in Australia, where
they began recording their latest album Autodrama.

During this period, Puro Instinct was reborn, reenergized, refocused. “Headbangers-era
was about being sucked into the flames, and Autodrama is about rising from the ashes of that
experience, with the lessons in tact and our ‘demons’ working for us, instead of against us,” says

Autodrama sees Puro Instinct return to their roots, telling the story of a youth spent in the decay
of Hollywood. “The infrastructure of Hollywood that people have known for years is this inflated
egotistical, hedonistic wasteland,” says Piper. “There’s an awareness of our responsibility to
create more meaningful works of art that don’t satisfy the immediate thirst of Hollywood
popcorn. Lyrically, one of my goals is to get into that psychology, to push myself to talk about all
the things that hurt me about living in Hollywood. I’ve never allowed myself to play along
because of my values, for better or for worse. What we’re going for is pop music to not be
about vanity and wealth, but still pop music nonetheless.”

For Skylar, the album’s recording coincided with her graduation from LACHSA. “As
soon as I was out of school, I found that I was inspired by sound in an entirely new way,”
Skylar says. “We decided to spearhead the production of the record ourselves and it was
interesting how the arrangements helped convey aspects of ourselves that weren’t easily
expressed through language. I was drawn to the spatial relationships between the sounds, the
warped rhythms, the melody ideas. It was important to produce everything in a way that felt allencompassing,
like peering into a diamond of our truths, recollections, worries, fantasies.”

The results are a purified, more self-assured Puro Instinct. Featuring instrumental
performances by Ariel Pink, Franco Falsini of Sensations Fix, and Richard “Sax” Ross,
Autodrama is not only lush, but danceable. Skylar’s guitar skills have been given the room they
need to create the shimmering planes and ringing angelic textures they always needed. “Six of
Swords” is spacious, space-age pop, like Kylie Minogue in zero gravity—but with cryptic,
vulnerable lyrics not usually imbued in pop music. “We’re using the vernacular of pop,” Piper
says, “but with our values and our soul.”

Embodying their vision, the song “Babylon” touches on Puro Instinct’s desire to be a
ghost in the pop machine. “We want to change the rules of what the pop world would want from
us,” says Piper. “The sound is inspired by this whole rebirth of values within us, which is a result
of us dying in 2011 and having to rebuild everything. Everyone was telling us what to do, we
were really young, and we were trying to take it to extremes to please everyone else. No more.”
No more indeed. Autodrama is defiant, bittersweet, strong, otherworldly, and perhaps the
most surprising album of 2016. The sights and sounds are but a spec of time, yet the dream is
forever. The quest is eternal.

Over their career, the band has received praise and features in the pages and on the
websites of Vogue Italia, French Vogue, Teen Vogue, GQ, Flaunt, Interview, Dazed,
NME, V, Paper, Nylon, Spin, Rolling Stone, Fader, and Pitchfork Media.

Current Release


Puro Instinct
Release Date: June 24, 2016


1. Panarchy
2. Peccavi
3. Tell Me
4. Six of Swords
5. What You See
6. Scorpio Rising
7. Babylon
8. End of an Era
9. Autodrama
10. Want Your Love