Megan James and Corin Roddick, ages 24 and 21 respectively, formed Purity Ring in 2010. Both grew up in Edmonton, Alberta. James played piano and Roddick played drums prior to the band's inception, but neither now plays them as a primary instrument for Purity Ring. During live shows, Roddick uses a custom-built, tree-shaped instrument to drive both live sound and lighting. Additionally, during live appearances both wear clothes custom designed and sewn by James. James uses written work which she originally did not intend to release to the public for many of the band's lyrics.
The duo were originally two of several members of the band Born Gold (previously called Gobble Gobble). While on tour with Gobble Gobble, Roddick began experimenting with electronic production and beat-making. James was asked to sing on a track called "Ungirthed", thus forming Purity Ring. The song was released in January 2011.
On April 3, 2012, it was announced that Purity Ring were signed by media company 4AD worldwide and Last Gang Records in Canada. Later the same month the band announced their debut album, Shrines, subsequently released on July 24, 2012; they also debuted the first single from the album titled "Obedear". On June 20, 2012, Purity Ring released another single from the album titled "Fineshrine".