Standing apart in a genre as progressively popular as psych-rock isn’t an easy feat. With more and more artist elbowing their way into the mix, local band Snow White is angling to stand out among the crowd.
All the customary traits are there: a dream-like, experimental sound paired with passionate melodies. Not so customary is Lauren Hay. With hair glimmering every shade of blue and deep mauve lips, Hay reaches into your soul with her haunting yet tender voice.
“Lauren’s lyrics are very coherent and dark,” bassist Max Knackstedt says of the band’s frontwoman. Knackstedt was the third to join the band, after Hay and guitarist Tim Khadafi.
“I feel like we’re the underbelly of psych-rock,” Hay adds. “A lot of the genre right now is super poppy and dance-y, and I think we explore deeper subject matters and more serious tones and feelings.”
Emerging from limbo after the departure of their drummer, Snow White finally found its groove within Eugene upon the arrival of the band’s current drummer, Katelynn Erb. Covering the head of her drums in glitter, Erb waits for the opportune moment to hit the shit out of them, sending glitter flying through the air (check out the band’s live recording of “Glitter”). But the drummer brings more than just a mesmerizing sparkle to the stage.
“When [Katelynn] joined, at that moment we kind of became a different band,” Knackstedt says. “We went from having this subdued sound to having this new life. We definitely started letting loose and found what we were looking for the whole time.”
The band has taken advantage of Eugene’s buzzing music scene, gigging at venues such as Luckey’s, The Wandering Goat, Sam Bond’s Garage and The Barn Light. Even so, they can’t help but realize the limitations that arise with any smaller city.
“Eugene has so much creativity and so many people creating art,” Knackstedt says. “We’re trying to find our niche in where we play. There’s just not a ton of outlets here.”
Again, the band finds itself caught in a limbo: thriving in Eugene, yet waiting for an opportune moment to make their music accessible everywhere they possibly can.
“I know so many people in bands that have moved to Portland because they think that’s gonna do it for them, and they get lost in the mix,” Hay explains. “It’s small enough here that we have a pretty good draw, and we’ve had the chance to play alongside great bands that if we lived somewhere else we wouldn’t have had that opportunity.”
That’s not to say the band has settled down.
“I’ll be a broke artist for my whole life, but I want it to go somewhere,” Hay says. “I see the path and I want it to go further than Eugene. I want our music to go further than it is right now.”
Snow White is traveling that path to success with an EP album currently in the works at Eugene’s own Track Town Records (the band’s first album to be recorded in a professional studio).
Also in the works is a collaboration with bluesy psych-rock band Pancho + The Factory at Old Nicks Pub on Wednesday. Oct. 21. “It’s going to be a very theatrical show — what we do now times a thousand,” Erb says. “Kind of like a witchy ball.” With this “Electro Seance Promenade,” the band hopes to present the most sensory show possible, complete with spooky creations from local artists.
As the band moves at a steady incline and solidifies its distinct sound, it’s bound to break through the Eugene barriers and onto something bigger.
“I think we’re a forever growing band,” Hay says. “I imagine it as sculpting something out of a large block, and you’re carving away the excess and becoming a work of art.” She continues, “You can see it but you have to pull away the layers to find out just what that work of art is.”
What’s left will be something beautiful.
Catch Snow White with Pancho + The Factory for the Electro Seance Promenade 8:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 21, at Old Nick’s, 211 Washington St; $5 or $3 with costume. The following night, Canadian pysch rockers Cult Babies join Snow White at 9:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 22, at Black Forest; free. Snow White’s live album can be found at snowwhite.bandcamp.com, and you can hear the band 4 to 6 pm Sunday, Oct. 18, on KWVA for a live set (featuring songs from the new EP) and interview.