When you talk about must-see bands in Portland, Skull Diver definitely deserves to be in the conversation. They don’t just play their music; they put on a show! It is an experience that will take you on a dark head trip, full of heavy, cinematic ebbs and flows.
“Skull Diver is very much an extension of myself and Ally and we’ve tried really hard to keep that kind of close to us,” says vocalist and bass player Mandy Payne of her and her sister’s spellbinding metal, electropop and psych project.
The multi-instrumentalist Payne sisters grew up playing music together from an early age and have really never stopped exploring their art, but it is their relentless work ethic over the past couple of years that has propelled Skull Diver to become a staple in the Portland music scene so quickly.
“Mandy and I work incredibly hard at everything we do, not just from a production standpoint, [but] from visualization to branding to marketing to everything,” Ally Payne explains. “We work really hard on all of that, to the point where it’s literally all we do.”
Their new album Chemical Tomb exemplifies the fluidity and visceral experience of their live show and is a full realization of the ideas in their heads. The sophomore record is a peek into the creative minds and spirits of Ally and Mandy Payne, and it displays the powerful dynamic these two sisters have between them: Mandy bringing the dark, intense, poetic songwriting, while Ally puts a little sparkle on everything with her beautiful work on the keys and her screaming guitar licks—and it’s all anchored by their technically sound drummer, Zanny Geffel.
But don’t be fooled by the darkness of the music: The women that make up Skull Diver are the sweetest of individuals. Often smiling, being incredibly goofy and giving glittery hugs, they just happen to dig the sounds of doom metal and deftly mix those influences with their dreamy pop music.
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