“I got to get up and perform a song with The Lips off that EP we did a little while back. It was a crazy and eventful New Year’s. If there’s anyway to start the year with a supposed celestial shift that’s going to bring on the end of the Mayan calendar and some sort of strange dramatic change you might as well do it on stage performing with The Flaming Lips.”
Since releasing the debut Neon Indian record, Psychic Chasms, in 2009, life has been hectic for Palomo – touring, collaborating and writing in some rather unusual places. For the act’s sophomore outing, Era Extraña, which hit shelves last September, Polomo hid himself away in an apartment in Helsinki; an experience he isn’t keen to repeat.
“When I got to Helsinki and remembered what it really felt like to be by yourself for an extended period of time I think I had this sobering reminder that, ‘Oh yeah, this totally sucks’. As interesting an experience as it was, I don’t think I’ll do something nearly as capricious next time. When I went to Helsinki it was to give myself some time to digest everything that had happened. Since Pyschic Chasms came out I’ve really been non-stop wrestling with the narrative of this project in particular.”
In the time since escaping his self imposed Helsinki hideout, Polomo has played shows here, there and everywhere, and will continue doing so until mid this year.
“I’m touring pretty relentlessly until the end of May but after that I’m kinda shutting everything down and being a hermit for a while. I’m trying to finish a VEGA record [Palomo’s side project] and write another Neon Indian record and I’ve been trying to finally set up some releases for my imprint with some weird electronic acts from Austin. I see myself putting out two records this year and after that I’ll focus on some filmmaking for a while, or just change my creative output altogether.”
One person who is sure to lament Palomo’s temporary departure from the music scene is the musician’s father, who was a Mexican pop star in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
“I didn’t really know that I wanted to do music until the beginning of college. I experimented with it in high school and did some really terrible songs. Indirectly I absorbed influences from my dad as far as musical sensibilities and I definitely grew up watching my brother and my dad dedicate themselves to their instruments. By the time I got around to writing music there was a strange ease in terms of it being a relaxing thing because it was always going on around my house on any given afternoon. My dad was always trying to put together some kind of crazy family band. Everyday my dad would have a different idea, none of which ever came to fruition.”
Though music occupies much of his time these days, film has always been one of Palomo’s passions and as such Neon Indian live shows are never just about sounds – utilising tripped out visuals created by Palomo in partnership with visual artist Lars Larson to set the scene.
“I just gave myself a Christmas present which is a modified Atari Video Music which was released in the ’70s. One side connects to your eight track player and the other goes to your TV and does these goofy Atari graphics that respond to the volume and frequency of the music you’re playing. My friend Lars modified it to do all sorts of glitched out stuff and it doubles as a distortion peddle too. So I’ve been running a guitar through it and any other instrument whose sound I just want to destroy. That’s been pretty entertaining.
“We have been trying to figure out some new and interesting things that we can incorporate into the live show. At the very least the fun thing about having this Atari Video Music, and we tried this during The Lips show, is plugging it in and feeding it a signal from a couple of our synthesisers and watching it go.”
BY EMMA BERGMEIER