„I want to work fast and momentarily“ – Palmbomen II Interview
Dutch born and Los Angeles based artist Palmbomen has just released his exciting new album Memories Of Cindy via Beats In Space Records!
Kai Hugo creates an utterly mysterious and spaced out world full of tasty instrumental excursions, thematic video installations and cross references. His second album under his Palmbomen II moniker contains haunting soundscapes and a rather surreal feeling, summerizing the odd Californian vibe in an inimitable way. Being an idiosyncratic producer that relies on spontaneity as much as structure, his work ethos is as much admirable as it is enviable. Plus, he is able to craft special moments with his live set consisting of analog gear, classic sequencers and retro drum machines. Follow him into his own rabbit hole which is the world of Cindy!
You have already lived in various big cities in your life. Growing up in Holland, living in Amsterdam, moving to Berlin and later to Los Angeles. Do you feel restless in a way?
No, I feel very chilled. It is nice to change sceneries because different cities give me different possibilities. I go back and forth a lot between Los Angeles and Holland now and even got an apartment in Holland again which is great but strange somehow. Living in two places at the same time. I notice that it is nice to spend a lot of time in the open though which I lately discovered in mostly sunny Los Angeles.
Does changing your direct surrounding affect your approach to music?
It is a very practical thing. Living in Los Angeles means living with my doors open and spending more time in the sun. Plus, working on film projects, scoring things and being able to play U.S. shows easier. Moreover, I stay in Holland when I play shows in Europe. I can work on music wherever I want. I developed a way of working with my live set for creating new material, songs and scores for films and I always have that with me, in every hotel room for example. I feel pretty free in that. I like to collaborate with friends using this setup now as well. Renting a house and making a record there, being a little more remote with my live set and a drum machine of a friend combined with my setup for 5 days for instance.
I guess it was through friends and the people I gave my first demos to, multiple people actually passed it to Tim and that is how it started. I release on other labels as well but the BIS/RVNG combination feels very good and solid for my albums.
How differs the club scene in Los Angeles to the ones in other parts of the country regarding culture and music enthusiasm?
Well, I find that the U.S. have a completely different club scene than where I am from. In Europe, I can play in maybe 70 cities and there are multiple clubs in each city to play at. Many festivals as well. In North America, I feel that it is more like 15 clubs, including Canada. Each city has a small scene, too, except for maybe New York City. Moreover, the scenes are quite young and fresh with no established underground like a lot of European cities have. But that is refreshing because I like the small scene that Los Angeles has with a lot of little warehouse parties. Furthermore, it seems that all the people making electronic music are friends. On the other side, there is the band scene which is huge but operates in a completely different universe than the electronic scene. My band friends do not really understand electronic music but they are learning slowly I guess. I like the band scene though. It is one of the reasons why I moved to Los Angeles in the first place.
You have produced every song on your self-titled debut album as Palmbomen II in one day and recorded it straight away completely live within one take. Is spontaneity an issue for you and how are the songs on Memories Of Cindy made?
Yes, spontaneity is very important to me. I want to work fast and momentarily, especially in electronic music with computers giving you endless total recall. Instead of working a 100 days on a song inside your computer, making 100 times a song a day seems more compelling to me and I am pretty sure that there is something pretty good in this kind of working process.
Your music also contains a lot of voice samples but you are not using your own voice. However, do you see yourself as a songwriter as language transports another layer of substance and content of you to the listener, no matter if it is your own or not?
It is not really voice samples, these are pieces I score and write and have a friend sing or talk over. I just really like girls’ voices so I let them say a minimal message that I want to offer. My previous Palmbomen II outlets had no samples at all. It is just another layer, but stripped down in a way. I definitely see myself as songwriter but the core of song writing is in the harmonies where special stuff happens to me. Then comes production and lyrics. The voices are flavours to me enhancing the harmonies and never the other way around. I hear that same songwriting in let’s say electronic pieces from I-F or in pop songs from Cocteau Twins.
Memories Of Cindy comes along as a huge package perfectly designed for raising every collector’s heartbeat as it contains three previously released EPs plus the fourth part one will only get when buying the whole album. Moreover, it is limited to 350 copies. Is vinyl highly important to you and how do you feel about the presumably high prices on Discogs and other reseller platforms?
No, I do not really do much with vinyl. The high prices and the collecting mania is kind of what made me stepping back from it. This craze feels a bit out of place and out of time. Maybe it exists to prove something? To prove love for music? I do not know but it seems to be a rather strange way to express love for music. I just like to create nice things. A world. Videos are part of this, a box of vinyls as well combined with the art. It is just nice to have something more than ‘song 01.mp3’. To really have something special. But especially traveling a lot with my live set makes it nearly impossible to take other things with me. Collecting vinyls is something that I can still do when I am older.
Besides you being a musician, you are also interested in filmmaking and you have produced videos for numerous songs of yours. Please tell us some insights about the Memories Of Cindy installations, which are your latest videos and got released via Beats In Space’s YouTube channel!
I felt like I wanted to dive deeper into the world I created before. Especially Cindy Savalas seemed appealing. I became friends with the actress who played Cindy and she started to sing for me. I wanted to imagine what this town where Cindy and the other characters lived in was like. I really appreciate local cable access television and wanted to work with something in that concept. The 3D commercials gave me the possibilities to dive into it and to create little artworks where I could combine images, logos, music and a written narrative. It is just all exploring.
What are you up to in the following year, is there anything you are really looking forward to besides the release of the album?
There will be more Palmbomen II records with my buddy Betonkust but I mainly look forward to finally finishing my band album as ‘Palmbomen I’. And for this I dive deeper into the world of Cindy…
Palmbomen II – Memories Of Cindy (Beats In Space)
VÖ: 26 January 2018; 12″, CD, digital
Interview: Tim Schulze
Text: Tim Schulze
Photo: Beats In Space
Diese Episode wurde veröffentlicht unter der Creative Commons Lizenz Namensnennung 3.0 Deutschland (CC BY 3.0 DE).