Section: Arts

From folk to power-pop, Carmen Perry performs it all

From folk to power-pop, Carmen Perry performs it all

Elana Spivack, Collegian

By Elana Spivack

Carmen Perry ’15, also known as Addie Pray, is not an ostentatious performer. No Mick Jagger walks, no rolling on the floor, no stage dives. She lets her music do the talking. The evening of Friday, Sept. 26, students wandered into the Horn Gallery and quickly became entranced by the easy beat of her music, their heads bobbing along in a metronomic sign of approval.

Addie Pray, accompanied by Jack Washburn ’16 on drums, opened for Mount Eerie, the project fellow slow-burning, low-key performer Phil Everum, this past Friday. Everum, like Perry in Addie Pray, is the principal performer of Mount Eerie, although he also collaborates with other artists.

Pray’s set list included seven original songs, which were like comfort food for the teen angsty soul. Her lyric-driven songs, embedded in an easy-going guitar line, were boosted by an upbeat drum line.

Jacob Hilmes ’18, who attended the performance, said, “I think [the opening] did what it needed to do. I think it really set the mood for what was coming afterwards. It was just impressive what they were able to do with just drums and her … singing. She was able to accomplish a lot with just her voice. I think everybody really enjoyed it.”

Perry’s musical history precedes Addie Pray. With self-taught guitar abilities and some piano lessons, she dabbled in music before college but never performed. While a first year at Kenyon, she began collaborating with James Karlin ’15 as an acoustic duo called Littless. Karlin said student band Kid Wizard in particular pulled them into the music scene back then.

Perry assumed her musical alter ego the summer following her first year at Kenyon. Her stage name came from her interest in the movie Paper Moon, based on the novel Addie Pray. “It sort of just started off as me not really wanting to use my real name because I felt weird about that,” Perry said.

Addie Pray’s music has a recognizable, simple indie-acoustic vibe with emphasis on poetic lyrics. Perry described her tendency toward expressive writing as follows: “I really like lyric-driven music. I guess that’s what you could say is my main inspiration because Addie Pray started as a way for me to deal with things and get words out of my head that I wasn’t doing anything with. That’s a pretty important thing, I think.” She cited Modest Mouse and P.S. Eliot as some of her inspirations.

Hilmes categorized Addie Pray as folk music; Karlin put her in the same vein, saying, “I guess her stuff as Addie Pray is … singer-songwriter music. Just acoustic. It seems mostly lyrics-based.”

Perry also fronts the Kenyon band SPORTS along with Washburn, Karlin, and Benji Dossetter ’15. “Power-pop with a punk kind of flavor,” Washburn called it. “Punky pop kind of stuff.” Perry started SPORTS in her sophomore year, with Karlin, Dossetter and Catherine Dwyer ’14, wanting to put some of her songs to good use and perform in a more energetic group.

While SPORTS differs from Addie Pray, their songs bear some similarities. “I think what [SPORTS does] is just flesh it out, add to it,” bassist Karlin said. SPORTS recently finished performing in different venues outside Kenyon, including Double Happiness, a club in Columbus, and shows at The Ohio State University and the College of Wooster.

With noticeable overlap, Addie Pray and SPORTS share some key features as artists. “[They’re] both me and my songs,” Perry said. “Addie Pray is a lot more quiet and sort of subtle, maybe … and SPORTS is definitely more energetic and definitely poppier. … Usually when I play with SPORTS, hearing the words I’m singing is usually the least audible part of the set. It’s really different for me just focusing on playing guitar and having everything sound good together, and then having the words come secondary.”

With most of the musicians graduating this year, they will focus on continuing to make music, though perhaps not together. “I don’t know where I’ll be after graduation and I don’t think they really do either,” Perry said. “Who knows if we’ll even be in the same place. I would like to continue with SPORTS and if not I’ll probably end up doing something either by myself or with other people,” she added. Karlin agreed that the members will continue their musical pursuits, saying, “I’m sure we will, whether together or not I couldn’t say, depending on what we do. But absolutely individually we’ll keep playing.”

Addie Pray and SPORTS both can be found on bandcamp.com, and have songs that can be purchased at a price the buyer sets.

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