Ro Interviews: Neon Indian

For many musicians, their work is a labor of love but for Neon Indian it is a whole new level where you’d find them constantly buckled down working on something, if not on music. With a relentless touring schedule that’s not stopping anytime soon, I am grateful frontman Alan Palomo, took the time to discuss the future, his many other projects and some guy literally stabbing himself in the back.

TWYE: I was fortunate enough to catch you at one of your few Australian shows recently. How did the crowds respond to your sets because if I remember correctly, Psychic Chasms was yet to be released here?

Alan Palomo: It was definitely a pleasant surprise because there were people who were genuinely excited about it and even in Melbourne, where I’ve done some recordings with Miami Horror, I think it was a good segue way into my stuff because I remember I went on stage during Miami Horror’s set. But in terms of going to a new country, I think the objective is really to try and give people a solid impression of what it is you do in a live environment. From what I can tell, people were definitely fascinated.

TWYE: Do the reactions differ from place to place?

AP: Oh yeah, absolutely. We kind of hone in on our live show in a way where there’s a lot of experimentation, and that’s what the live show becomes about after a while. We have intro melodies as a segue to each of the songs where we’d take a component from the last song with the next one and have this weird modulus snyth duration and it seems like people get really into it. But yeah, it does show that once they’re familiar with your music, people really get exited and know what to expect.

TWYE: Hidden in the depths of my music collection I found a track from your VEGA and Ghosthustler projects and found parallels between them and Neon Indian, as if they were the build up to what Neon Indian sounds like today. Were these projects intended to be aesthetically similar?

AP: These projects had their own individual concepts and that’s probably because I get excited about one particular kind of sound and just focus on that one musical mediation. VEGA was pretty much that with a direct nod to disco, and we started pressing that onto tape. But then with Neon Indian it sort of became a memory of them and the goal completely changed but it’s weird because with Ghosthustler there wasn’t any real direction. I was just out of college and started working on music and the way I started working with members of Ghosthustler was like we had a few songs and we tried to collaborate but we had a lot of intentions…mostly trying to keep up with our peers and it became miserable after that. If anything, it became this electro bootcamp.

TWYE: Yeah, I guess that makes sense because I don’t think anyone heard from Ghosthustler for a while.

AP: I think after “Someone Else’s Ride”, everyone wanted to branch out and take it different directions and find some middle ground or some compromise and that’s when I started working on my own stuff.

TWYE: What are your thoughts on the whole chillwave genre people associate you with? It must get generic and tiring.

AP: It gets tiresome in the sense that before to be labeled a genre you would be like a group of 10, or a community, drawing artistic influences from one another and have similar musical objectives with a centralized venue but now it’s just like, where some blogger or journalist finds 3 bands spread around the world and tack on a movement. And we caught it at a very specific time, which I guess changes people’s perceptions about the music we’re shaping and I find it strange to get a theme from it. I haven’t met any other people or act with the exception of Toro y Moi who we only met just recently and it’s like “heeey, I guess we have a certain sort of kinship of predetermined course”. It kind of cheapens the music for me because its making music to me that was precedent and that reference of trying to ride on a genre. For the most part, I don’t try to let it affect me because I don’t want to alter the end product.

TWYE: I really appreciate the proposed art-music collaboration in Psychic Chasms. Do you have a favourite artist that you aspire to, or perhaps a muse that inspires you?

AP: I’ve always been a fan of multimedia artists like Chris Marker and Stan Brakhage who is one of my all time favourite artists. He’d make really opulent colour collages that happen incredibly quickly so it becomes this piece of bizarre paint abstraction that’s constantly moving and undulating. A lot of the visuals that we do for our live shows (which unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to do there in Australia) are influenced by his work. Oh and this other guy too, what’s his name?

TWYE: Is it another multimedia artist?

AP: Yeah. He was just using a lot of the technology available at the time where he’d used green screens and be facing them and kind of like, stab into himself. The name will come to me eventually.

TWYE: Are there other disciplines that you want to integrate in your music?

AP: I just want to go back into film and try that out for a while. Maybe down the line, write a screenplay and have the Neon Indian album be a direct soundtrack for that and it could be like the perfect conglomeration. It’s definitely the kind of stuff I imagine myself doing for a while.

Oh by the way, the guy’s name is Peter Campus.

TWYE: I read somewhere you got offered to play a fashion show. How did that turn out?

AP: We got asked last minute to play a show in Paris because we were there for the Austin City Limits festival, because one of the bands dropped out – The Raveonettes. So we got asked to play on their behalf, which was pretty amazing being surrounded by actual models and all.

TWYE: What lies ahead for Neon Indian in 2010?

AP: I think it’s far to say that we’ll be fairly busy with relentless touring and at some point work on a VEGA studio album, which should be out by fall as well as have a few Neon Indian EP’s floating in-between around the same time before releasing another Neon Indian record, which I definitely want to take the time to execute the best way imaginable.

Neon Indian’s latest record Psychic Chasms is out now on Popfrenzy.

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