Dancing in the dark

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.”


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.