Dancing in the dark

Dancing in the dark-attachment0

Though Exitmusic is just one of a handful of female-led projects at Moogfest, singer-keyboardist Aleksa Palladino says that, while she identifies with being a woman more and more as she gets older, “I don’t write anything out of that.”

“We’re finally at a place where women don’t have to write as women,” says the musician. “We don’t have to write about boys, or relationships and love. We’re at a point where we can move past that and write about things that are going on in our heads.”

What Palladino and her husband/ bandmate Devon Church write, she says, are emotional stories. Not linear stories or prose, but evocative soundscapes and dreamscapes culled from internal worlds and the fertile creative space that the couple shares.

According to Palladino, she and Church met on a train while they were both traveling across Canada. Their band developed along with their romance, and they write all of their songs together. “It’s been sort of the central part of the relationship from early on,” Palladino says of the band. “I can’t imagine doing it any other way.”

Another art-reflecting-life aspect of Exitmusic: The band’s videos. Palladino and Church recently released a darkly dreamy visual for “The Modern Age” off their album Passage. Palladino is an actor as well as a musician (she most recently appeared in the TV series Boardwalk Empire) and says videos “come more naturally to me, because I’m more used to the camera.” But she’s cautious about attaching images to songs that could change a listener’s initial impression of the music.

Then again, says Palladino, everybody watches videos. “So a lot of people get introduced to your song with the visuals there. It’s a tricky thing — what are those visuals that can still allow the song to be heard?”

She adds, “I never like revealing too much of what our songs are about.”

Considering the obscurity of lyrics and imagery, it’s probably not surprising that fans of the experimental/atmospheric duo aren’t likely to cut a rug at a show. Really, this is music that makes you close your eyes and maybe sway a little bit. Palladino and Church aren’t necessarily looking out into the crowd, either — it’s an introspective experience all the way around. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a connection between band and audience. Palladino says, “You definitely feel who you’re playing to. There’s something that separates each show: It’s the audience and how they respond to us.”

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts writer and editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs.

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