Interview: Alan Palomo of Neon Indian

While on the road to their next set our conversation kept getting cut off. So Alan Palomo the astoundingly approachable, “lovable deadbeat” himself, offered to call back while Neon Indian traveled on route to Chicago. We finally caught up the next day, with a couple more dropped calls, but hey, whatcha gona do? We kept up the phone tag and let the conversation flow. And so our talk delved from his family upbringing, listening to Luis Miguel in Monterrey, México where he grew up, to his college days in Texas, and of course the tantamount success of Neon Indian.

Asking Palomo how he feels about the recent success of Neon Indian vs previous projects, he was, “Surprised [Neon Indian] got so much attention. I didn’t want it to be construed as a trippier Vega or Vega to be a dancier Neon Indian.”

The industry buffs and genre junkies, Palomo feels, don’t affect his work or his creativity. “I don’t really feel restricted. I garner a lot from different types of genres. I think to classify things one way, to condense something to a three syllable word doesn’t do justice to the experience. I don’t really feel qualified to classify my music objectively. People certainly try to categorize the music but I don’t have that space, that distance.” Spoken like a true artists.

Palomo continues, somewhat exasperated by the topic. He expressed his frustration at the constant, genre goons and hyper-hyphenation obsessed reviewers to label and classify the music. Palomo critiques reviewers and claims they are, “Tarnishing [the music] by putting it into words, making it paletable. That’s the part I can’t really execute. I can’t look at it objectively. Talking about it now is a post-facto rationalization. If you want to call it electronic psychedelic-tape music or something, yeah you could definitely throw those words around. But that feels like I’m just putting it in forced words for you.”

Not wanting to push the topic any further, we shifted towards Palomo’s inspirations outside of music. I’m sure Alan, like many artists, gets tired of the same conversation, the same questions, the same old battles for self-identification in a world that loves to label and over-simplify.

Neon Indian – Deadbeat Summer from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.

On the vision or images his work, he hopes, inspire, Palomo explains: “There’s always these narrative, story driven lyrics. You could imagine the music as if it were in a scene you were watching in a movie… I think people are constantly bombarded by so much stimuli. Maybe that’s why music like this is being popularized right now with a lot of found visuals, and throwback styles. Part of our live performance is an hour projection made by Lars Larsen. It’s integral to the experience.”

And here’s where our conversation began to flourish. Delving deeper into Palomo’s art days in college and his deep love of film and experimental work, he hopes Neon Indian can one day work on a film soundtrack and put out a plethora of music videos. Palomo’s brain was like a film history bucket, you could just fish out titles and auteur names for hours. He describes one of his favorite films by Agnes Varda and the slow tempo classic My Own Private Idaho, as works he gravitates towards, works about “lovable deadbeats.” The words ring out like song lyrics or the title of Neon Indian’s next album. And, who could argue that Palomo’s trippy lowfi vibe wouldn’t bring anything but “lovable deadbeats” to their shows.

On this months performance at the Metro, Neon Indian kept the fans entertained, as they interacting with Larsen’s video projections making hand puppets galore. While Palomo rocked out on the theremin, vocals and synths, the sea of deadbeats fans were set in a blissful trance.

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