Bouquet is an L.A.-based electronic duo composed of members Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs and Max Foreman. Later this year, the band plans to release their debut full-length album, Spellbreaker. Today we are premiering the song “All Living Rooms” from the record. It is also featured in an episode from the third season of Transparent. (Amazon Prime-ers: The season premiere of the show is today!)
I recently emailed with Carolyn about being a versatile artist, finding creative balance, and the inspiration behind the songwriting for “All Living Rooms.”
ALYSON ZETTA: You do a lot of [scoring] work for TV shows and other projects. How do you balance creating for yourself and creating for others?
CAROLYN PENNYPACKER RIGGS: I’m still trying to figure out the golden ratio. The cool thing is that I learn something new from every project—maybe a new sound, EQ recipe, or chord progression—that I can keep in mind for future compositions.
I’m working on a handful of projects right now aside from scoring to picture. Bouquet, of course, with my excellent bandmate, Max Foreman. Song of Eurydice, an all-female-identifying choral/movement ensemble with Mecca Vazie Andrews [of Sex Stains] and costumes by 69. That takes place in more of an art/public outreach context. And I’m working with fave podcast, Call Your Girlfriend, to create an original, comprehensive score for the show.
What has been the vision for “All Living Rooms” and the upcoming album that this track will be on?
The narrator of “All Living Rooms” is a ghost telling a living person to “just do it”—based on an amalgam of friends and family members who have passed in the last few years. It’s the first single from our first full-length, Spellbreaker, which refers to breaking the “spell” of dumb paradigms, destructive patterns or perceptions, modes that should be outmoded. A lot of the songs nod to physical and metaphorical death—transformations, the moment before a big change, and the moment after.
You’re a visual artist, in addition to being a musician and many other things! Do you think your visual work correlates with your musical style?
Yeah, they’re different limbs of the same beast. I try to maintain an openness to synchronicities and archetypal influences in both visual and musical approaches. Both rep some low-key humor.
Have you ever used your music to inspire your art, or the other way around? If so, can you think of an example?
I make a lot of visuals to support the music: album art, videos, posters, projections, fliers, tees. When I write songs explicitly about art, it’s always been about other people’s art.
“All Living Rooms” seems somewhat sentimental, like seeing something or someone that you haven’t seen in forever. What are you reopening? Or are you saying goodbye?
“All Living Rooms” is set in my mom’s childhood home. It was a spooky house and the last time I saw it, it was completely empty. I spent summers there as a kid staying up ’til the early morning, reading my grandma’s mysteries and blasting my Discman in the sunporch that was my mom’s childhood room. When I perform the song, I imagine walking through the empty rooms, so my personal experience of the song is a return to a goodbye.
On the track, you mention being surrounded. What are you surrounded by?
Living rooms: Walls that have absorbed so thick a patina of daily life—all built-up, kind of crusty—that they are able to recreate some of those impressions and sensations, and live and breathe.
Is the “return to living rooms” you sing about in the song a happy or a sad return?
It’s both. It’s kind of sad: Maybe the narrator didn’t get to have all the adventures they’d hoped for in their lifetime. But, they’re more focused on transmitting an imperative message to the living listener: Life goes by very quickly. The spirit is like, I’m going to come back, and make sure you’ve followed through on your desires. So it’s also kind of hopeful, and a little bit freaky. It’s a command—almost a threat—from an (after)life coach. ♦