Piera Klein says music is all about creating a community.
That is especially true during a pandemic, when music fans can’t congregate and enjoy live music. Klein, a singer/songwriter/producer, and Micah Plissner, songwriter/producer, did what they could to make the turbulent time easier.
Known collectively as Piera, the synth-pop duo recently released its latest single, “Unraveling.” The video sees the Downtown LA-based musicians confronting the dark, emotional landscape of a broken relationship seemingly without hope of redemption.
“This has been a crazy time,” Klein said. “Everybody’s hunkering down. Diving into another reality helps, and music does that.
“It’s been really fun having that outlet amidst this chaos and unprecedented time we’re all experiencing. Living Downtown, we’re in the epicenter of seeing things, just how the world has changed.”
A Southern California native, Klein has been creating music, poetry and art since she was young. At age 5, Piera sang on a children’s record. Two years later, she started writing music on pianos and her dad’s acoustic guitar.
By junior high, Piera went on to work with an Emmy Award-nominated songwriting team needing a singer for placements. She later broke out on her own, as a songwriter/producer, singer and performer. Inspired by truly independent musicians and artists, Piera decided to venture out into the uncharted waters of experimental sound design, lyricism and performance.
Plissner has been in California for some time. He moved from Manhattan to Santa Monica with his parents when he was 13. However, he still feels like a New Yorker.
His father, Martin, was the national political director for CBS news. Plissner was published in Village Voice magazine at 8 years old for a poem he wrote on the dark side of prep school culture.
He was scouted by agents to be in various shows and commercials, but it wasn’t for him. He enrolled in modern dance classes in Santa Monica and moved up to the pro classes, until a serious injury forced him to change course.
He moved his way into the LA punk scene, where he was eventually signed as an artist. He toured and charted in the top 10 on the college radio charts nationally. Plissner said he felt that the major label route was too commercial for his taste, so he started working as an independent musician and producer.
Plissner said the duo had cinematic desires to put to music. Klein agreed.
“We’re totally independent,” she said. “I think our vision is unique. It’s a fun experience to have the opportunity to create something and showcase it when everybody’s home and people are scrolling.”
Not only did fans have to pivot, but musicians did as well. Klein said musicians live for life on the road, so they had to find new ways to exist.
“One thing that’s really great is we do have all this technology and people are finding ways to connect,” Klein said. “This was a year when people really started connecting online now more than ever.
“I think it has its pros and cons. I’m seeing the silver lining of connecting. It’s interesting to see who we’ve been connecting with musically. It’s been global, and it’s all because of technology.”
That technology has played a major role in Piera’s career. Plissner said their song “As Good as You” hit No. 50 on the internet radio charts. He described the track as mystical and ambient but personal.
“It’s very electronic and ambient, with a lot of reverb and space in it,” he said. “Piera’s voice is so vulnerable and personal. When you’re dealing with songs, you’re really dealing with the singer wrapped in some kind of sound bath.”
Klein added, “It’s a simple message and it feels familiar. It’s simple and relatable.”
As for “Unraveling,” the catchy song layers classic synth-pop and new wave, a la Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins and New Order. The video is inspired by visual artists like James Turrell and Zaha Hadid.
“The Cocteau Twins doesn’t surprise me,” Plissner said. “I can sort of see New Order, with the heavy basslines. We didn’t aim for a genre with this song.”
Klein said fans instantly responded to the song. She hears from fans comparisons to Ladytron, Goldfrapp and David Bowie.
“There references are very diverse,” she said. “It’s good to know the music we enjoy listening to, fans are listening to as well.”
More music coming
Fans will have more to listen to by the end of the summer, when Piera releases an EP.
In the meantime, during the COVID-19 restrictions, Piera is soaking in DTLA.
“I love it here so much,” Klein said. “I spend tons of time in the Arts District. There are some really, really great restaurants in the area, and great galleries like Hauser & Wirth. That’s really fun. We enjoy Café Gratitude, too.
“I feel like we’re in an interesting world that doesn’t exist anywhere outside of LA. It’s just neighborhood after neighborhood and then you have the beach. Grand Avenue is grand and epic with all the buildings. You have that sense of Old World meets New World. It attracts all different people. DTLA has a different vibe and flavor than a lot of LA. It’s more multinational or diverse. I feel there are a lot of artists here.”
Plissner added, “I can’t wait for MOCA to reopen. I know that’s obvious, but that’s one of the things I look forward to the most.”
“Downtown LA has the most visceral art community that I’ve been around, though,” he added. “There are a lot of little pockets. There is an extreme amount of talented and powerful artists. The people I know in the music scene are artists I’m in awe of. They’re not so much affected by Hollywood. They’re just doing their thing. They’re committed to their life and art. It challenges me. This is for people who love art more than they love money.”