2014 Artist Survey: Painted Palms

Reese Donohue on 2014's Best Music, Being Stopped at the Canadian Border, Conspiracy Theories, and His Childhood Celebrity Crush

Jan 27, 2015 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Reese Donohue of Painted Palms.

Top 10 Albums and/or Songs of 2014

1. SOPHIE: "LEMONADE" and "HARD"-Sometimes I see stuff and I'm like, "Wow, the future." I was lucky enough to catch SOPHIE at Hype Hotel at SXSW in March, and I can't remember the last time I was legitimately amazed by a performance like that. I was pretty hyped on "BIPP" before I got there, but something about seeing the stoic blacklight-neon mermaid in a baby pool of balloons brought the songs to life.

2. TALA: "Serbia" and "The Duchess"-I don't usually go for R&B, but I feel like this is pop first and R&B second. I think the production is executed really well. Everything feels very focused and powerful. Dark and bassy, really cool.

3. Les Sins: Michael-A lot of this album feels like it's designed to put people in emotionally ambiguous states, like freak them out when something weird happens in the dance tent. That's awesome and makes it really engaging. It seems like it draws from early '90s acid house, which I'm really into at the moment.

4. Saint Pepsi: "Fiona Coyne" and "Worst Behavior Remix"-We toured with Saint Pepsi early this year. When Ryan [DeRobertis] showed me "Fiona Coyne" in the van before it came out, I was immediately excited. I usually go for darker stuff (not exactly evinced by this list), but it's kind of an undeniable track. The simultaneous depth of sounds and smooth blending makes for an Avalanches-level mix of fun and engaging. Really excited for this guy.

5. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: "Kira Kira Killer"-I'll never forget miserably failing at singing this song at 7 a.m. in a karaoke bar in Shinjuku, after a night out in Shibuya at the most neon-lit bars in the world. I didn't really understand/have appropriate appreciation for Japanese culture until we toured there this year. Once I was more immersed in the culture, it sort of came on all at once and was like some sort of epiphany where I fell in love. I can't wait to go back.

6. Kero Kero Bonito: "Sick Beat"-It's not very easy to use a bunch of N64 sounds and make something sound badass, but their nonchalance is pretty endearing. 

7. Waveracer: "Rock U Tonite"-These globodigital.biz videos are like taking a bath in a rainbow. Kind of reminds me of a moving digitized version of NYC artist Morgan Blair's work. 

8. Charli XCX: "Boom Clap"-At first, most of her stuff confused me. I didn't really understand the fuss over these hybridized radio-ready songs, but I've come around and embraced them fully. Brilliantly executed and pushing boundaries. Glad I got to see her live before she moves onto arenas.

9. The Knife: Shaken-Up Versions-These songs are a bunch of remixes from their 2014 tours, and most of them are really intense. The remix of "We Share Our Mother's Health" is one of my favorite songs of the year. I would love to see these versions performed live.

10. Ty Segall: Manipulator-The production value of this record, in my opinion, surpasses anything Ty Segall has released so far. It feels really focused, way less fuzzy, and more muscular.

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band? 

Although it was great to finally get our first album into the open and was also great to play Treasure Island Music Festival, my favorite thing that I've done all year was go to Japan. I have to check myself when I talk about it 'cause I don't shut up, but it was the most inspiring, novel experience I've had in years.

What was the low point of 2014 for you? 

We were touring in a van with Saint Pepsi, trying to come back from Canada, and we didn't realize we were so close to the border when we had to pull over at a crossing station. We were all delirious from lack of sleep. Our bassist Patrick [Jeffords] was wearing a t-shirt that said LSD and had socks with weed leaves on them, and Chris [Prodhomme] was wearing a black mesh crop top and a Raiders hat. Naturally, we were searched and had to sit inside, and to pass the time we started lecturing each other in History Channel form about the important figures in this music genre named "doodle jazz" that we made up. We were laughing so hard that we pissed off the border police and had to stay about two hours longer than we needed to, because they thought we weren't cooperating. Almost missed our show that night due to the delay.

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

We're really excited to release another album. I feel like we're hitting a stride and can't wait to share.

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

It's hard to think about this without thinking about how much I already hate U2. I feel like if it were Beyoncé six months ago I wouldn't have had a huge problem with it, and might have liked that it made waves. But I think, in general, it was a completely tasteless and invasive abuse of position on the part of the band or whoever talked them into thinking that it was appropriate.

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

No, I didn't. She absolutely did not deserve backlash. 

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

Hm. I'm not really sure it was a "new" dialogue, since abuse of power and racism in America's police force (or just America) has been talked about so much and for so long that most people take it for granted at this point. I think it's extremely important to continually remind ourselves of the lethal repercussions and catastrophic ramifications of allowing authority to go unchecked, but it's terribly sad that it takes the shooting of an innocent person to distract people from things like the ice bucket challenge and actually examine the state of affairs in our country. Will anything change? Not overnight, and every little bit helps, but at what cost?

What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight? 

Craziest? Probably that the reptilians living at the center of the moon shot it down with lasers and put it in a giant underwater sonar-resistant crystal pyramid. You can read about it all at http://atruthsoldier.com/2012/11/29/two-giant-underwater-crystal-pyramids-discovered-in-the-center-of-the-bermuda-triangle/ Also, the moon is an incognito spaceship, as evinced by its perfect proportion to the sun as viewed from Earth, and it always has the same side facing us. 

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

Performers have no responsibility to be respectful. I think it's mostly a choice about what kind of fan base you want to have, if any, and what kind of relationship you want to build with a fan base. 

"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about?

I would be honored for "Weird Al" to lampoon any of our songs and would prefer that he determine the lyrical content.

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with? 

This may be a bit of a cop out, but we make a conscious effort to avoid reading reviews. A common problem we run into while making songs is getting bogged down in mechanics, but that is mostly intentional. 

What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had? 

There's this girl named Velma Spencer who comes to almost all of our shows in California. She's been a fan since our first release over four years ago, and she's a really rad person. 

What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be? 

Every once in a while you get interviewed by someone who probably hasn't even listened to the record, and that sucks, because you're both kind of wasting time. I can't say that I have a specific question that I wish someone would ask me, but I do wish we weren't asked questions that could be answered by reading a press release. On the other hand, it's nice that people are interested enough to interview us at all.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

I am? LOL.

Which musician or celebrity did you most have a crush on as a child or teenager?

Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation.

www.paintedpalms.net

 



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