Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Music: Neon Indian

Alan Palomo is only twenty-one years old and he is already on his third musical identity. He currently works under two names, the fun hi-fi synth-pop of VEGA and the focus of this feature, the lo-fi synth-pop of Neon Indian. Neon Indian’s debut album, Psychic Chasms (album cover below), will be released on October 13th.

The album runs at just around thirty minutes, which at first glance seems a little short, but in this case only means that there is no filler. “Deadbeat Summer” is the first full song on the album and it lets you know exactly what you’re in for – thirty minutes of summery synths, liquid filters, and heavy beats. Songs like “Terminally Chill” and “6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know)” reinforce that Psychic Chasms is not an album that should be listened to on computer speakers, like any album really, because the bottom-end should be heard. Alan Palomo was nice enough to answer some questions over the phone:

Have you seen, heard, or read anything that you would like to recommend to our readers (film, art, music, literature)?

For starters I would say probably one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time is The Transparency of Evil by Jean Baudrillard. It’s a collection of essays on post-modernism and the fluctuation and the conglomeration of economics, sexuality, and aesthetics and how it’s integrated into everything. I think it’s really weird that I read a kind of book that’s more social criticism, but it’s always kind of impractical. It’s like these idealized perspectives, but it’s the first thing I’ve read in a long time that just feels like spot on. It’s completely transparent.

In terms of film, I actually got a chance to see Kicking and Screaming - the Noah Baumbach movie from the 90s that was amazing. It’s quite impressive that this guy wrote it so shortly after college when he was still in his mid 20s. I’m excited to go see that Coen brothers movie A Serious Man – it looks pretty awesome.

Recently I heard The xx and I know that they are getting quite a bit of attention. They’re probably the best recent band I’ve heard. There’s something to be said about their style – it seems like there’s a lot of reservation with what they do. It’s very concise and all of the arrangements are really pared down and minimal. You know it’s strange because they’re so young – all the members are about twenty years old and to have that kind of awareness of reservation in the execution of your music, there’s something to be said about that.

What is your songwriting process like?

I have different approaches for various projects. For VEGA, I usually go into it with a very finite set of influences and a very particular style of song in mind and it’s just a question of “can I execute it?” or “do I know enough about the medium to replicate something that would be evocative of these influences?” But in Neon Indian, there are no guidelines whatsoever – I generally start with a drum beat or something or a very simplistic sample and sort of begin building from there and it’s all about spontaneous ideas and finishing a song in no more than two days. I’ve learned recently that working under those timelines kind of opens up a lot of doors.

Are you working on a VEGA album in the near future?

Absolutely, I’ve already kind of started work and we’re in the process of signing to Fool’s Gold at the moment, so we’ve just been working from that angle. I think that we definitely have that in mind and I think come January, we’ll probably take two months aside from touring to sort of sit down and figure out what the full concept is going to be and how I’m going to execute it and right now I’m in the process of familiarizing myself with a producer. Yeah, there will definitely be one and I’m really quite excited to start working on it. I’m kind of a workaholic when it comes to planning releases. I like doing that a lot more than touring, but touring definitely has its charms as well.

You just played your first Neon Indian show, how did it go?

Yeah, I think it went quite well. We definitely exceeded our expectations. Everyone was kind of new to the material and writing it is one thing, but being able to reinterpret it live and have it be true to the original sound is a completely different ballgame. So yeah, we were all really happy with how it went.

What’s the origin of the name Neon Indian?

I actually can’t take credit for the name given that it was actually originally a band name that Alicia [Scardetta, the artist who has created the visual component for Neon Indian] had come up with back in high school and it was kind of a mock band. You know, sort of just like Neon Indian was this band that didn’t exist. It wasn’t until years later that I started writing songs that were kind of evocative of that name and I actually just asked her “Hey, remember that myspace account that’s been sitting for four years? I can do something with it."


Derrick said...

I'm kind of surprise he likes the xx, i though he might say washed out since they basically do the same thing in terms of musical style. Psychic chasms was a great album tho, i think 2010 will be the year for lo-fi, "chill wave" or bedroom synthpop(which ever fits for a genre. aritst like washed out, neon indian, toro y moi, dog bite, small black, memoryhouse etc are all releasing seriouly good stuff

Anonymous said...

music's getting good again. bands like vivian girls and all this surf and summer stuff is finally gonna push out all the post-libertines skinny denim shite

Tupac420_206 said...


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