LIKE ITS HOMETOWN of Olympia, Broken Water is regularly lauded for its DIY spirit. But that shorthand descriptor doesn't quite work for drummer Kanako Pooknyw.
"I think we have always been much more D.I.Together," she says via email. "I appreciate DIY, but really prefer not to have to be such a rugged individualist."
As Broken Water gears up to support its new album, Wrought, the three-piece is working with a booking agent for the first time, Pooknyw says. It's also releasing the new album through Night-People, the label that put out its 2010 debut Whet. (Broken Water's second full-length, 2012's Tempest, came out on Hardly Art.)
For past recordings, Pooknyw and guitarist Jon Hanna have always "squeezed the very most out of the least amount of time and fiscal resources" from studios, Pooknyw says. The band (along with bassist Abby Ingram) decided to bump it up a notch for Wrought.
"This time around we went all in, so to say. Or I guess I went all in," she says. "I had some money in savings and decided to spend it. I am 39 and have been recording in budget indie analog studios since 1996 [and wondered] what it would be like to approach recording without coming from a place of scarcity. I still had to hustle, but I decided for once in my life I wanted the finest recording experience the Pacific Northwest has to offer."
The band ended up at legendary Avast! Recording Company in Seattle (after a major-label project canceled last minute, Pooknyw notes), where Wrought was recorded and mixed by Steve Fisk, best known for his work with Nirvana, Screaming Trees, Beat Happening, and the like. Pooknyw worked with Fisk on Wrought's mix for 180 hours, she says.
"Steve was like the best older brother who is looking out for you and supporting you while you are trying to get a good take in the studio," she says. "He figured out how to capture us best in the limited time we had at Avast! We considered his every suggestion and he listened to ours."
As a result, Wrought is concise and comprehensive of what Broken Water is all about: beautiful, shoegazey indie-pop songs sung icily by Pooknyw, and strangled Sonic-Youth-ish noise-punk numbers sung by Hanna. The album alternates between the two, bridged by common elements: Broken Water's irrepressible melodies and an ever-present coating of grungy, Pacific Northwestern, Fisk-ian fuzz.
None of which means Wrought sounds particularly glossy, or that Broken Water is on the verge of shedding the label of DIY—or D.I.Together, or whatever.
"My music I make does not come from a place that is wanting or needing to impress everybody, more from a place of personal reflection and cathartic healing," Pooknyw says. "Super selfish, I know! If other people get it or feel it, great. If not, that is okay, too."