Good Things Still to Come from Portland’s Radiation City
Since their formation in 2010 up until their unfortunate and untimely separation in 2016, Radiation City made a name for themselves as one of Portland’s premier synth-pop outfits. The group released a trio of well-received records on PDX label Tender Loving Empire and Illinois-based Polyvinyl, and they’re currently finishing up a fourth studio album that has yet to be released. The band started working on the fourth EP a few years ago with producer Sonny DiPerri, and the record is expected to be out sometime this year via Polyvinyl.
We sat down with former Radiation City bandmates Lizzy Ellison and Cameron Spies to discuss what’s coming up next for each of them.
MIP: What are your names and what instruments did you play in Radiation City?
C: My name’s Cameron Spies, and I played guitar and sang.
L: My name is Lizzy Ellison, I played keyboards and sang.
MIP: Are you planning to play the same instruments in future projects?
L: No, not as a primary instrument.
MIP: Before the breakup, how long had Radiation City been making music together?
L: We had been making music for the project for 7 years.
C: Yeah, we started in 2010.
MIP: What was the biggest difference in your experience working with Tender Loving Empire vs. Polyvinyl?
C: The team is bigger at Polyvinyl, and I think Tender Loving Empire has since grown, but there’s a bigger national awareness at Polyvinyl.
L: But honestly, not a whole lot of difference.
C: Totally. We had hoped that being on Polyvinyl would be like, “now we’re famous and rich!” But it wasn’t a huge difference in that regard.
MIP: Name three of your biggest musical influences.
L: I guess I’ll go chronologically: Mariah Carey, Cocteau Twins, and Bjork.
C: I have kind of an outside of the box answer. I would say childhood, then high school, and then, honestly, playing in Radiation City. I feel like I’ve delved into more music and gotten a better understanding of music whereas before I was kind of myopic about what was interesting music.
MIP: Tell us a little about what’s next for each of you.
L: I just finished a record, under my own solo project called Cardioid. I’ll be doing some minimal touring, but really just trying to get back to what’s fun about music, not just arduously touring or expecting some label to save the day.
C: I’m playing guitar in AAN, and playing bass and producing a record for a band called PG-13. We have our first show at Holocene in May. I also have my own project that is tentatively called Night Heron. It’s kind of a “Lee Hazlewood meets 80’s Leonard Cohen meets Gorillaz”.
L: I also want to mention Randy Bemrose’s solo project, Because (playing Doug Fir May 24th), and Patti King touring with the Shins (playing keys, violin, and vocals), who will be touring across the U.S. and Europe all year.
While we look forward to the new EP from Radiation City coming out sometime this year, you can grab Radiation City’s third album “Synesthetica” right now, available in vinyl, CD, and digital formats.
Photography by Sebastian Neri / NOVEL Creative Agency