Neon Indian - Alan Palomo on “VEGA INTL. Night School”

After Dark

Jan 12, 2016 Photography by Pooneh Ghana Issue #55 - November/December 2015 - EL VY
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It's been four years since Era Extraña. The rigors of recording, releasing, and touring behind two albums in rapid succession had worn out Neon Indian's mastermind, Alan Palomo. To refresh, he took some time away from Neon Indian to explore other interests, mostly film-related: writing and scoring the short film Outer Osmo Ghost Mode, composing the soundtrack for the indie film Lace Crater, and even acting in a small role in an as-yet-untitled Terrence Malick feature. He also spent a lot of that time DJing, which Palomo refers to as the "reset button" he needed to hit in order to figure out what kind of music to write next. The eventual album wasn't actually intended to be a Neon Indian album, but a new record from his more dance-oriented project, VEGA.

"After working on it for a good while, I sort of realized that I'm really just splitting hairs, aesthetically, between these two concepts," says Palomo. "There was too much influence from Neon Indian finding its way into the VEGA demos and vice versa, that I ultimately decided I'd be better off merging them into one lane."

The new album's title, VEGA INTL. Night School, is a nod to the recently-assimilated project. The convergence of the two ventures felt like the ideal next move for Palomo, particularly because it reflected the musical interestsincluding Italo Disco and Belgian New Beatthat he'd cultivated while mining for material to add to his DJ sets. He also found unconventional inspiration for the record in horror and B-movies set in New York City, films such as Street Trash, Mutant Hunt, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, and trashy classics from the Troma catalog. The Texas transplant became fascinated by movies that filtered New Yorkthe city he's called home in recent yearsthrough a heavily distorted lens, and those ideas eventually manifested themselves in the new music.

"It was cool to play with this idea that this city is exotified, but at the same time seen as an encapsulation of the American experience," explains Palomo. "For me, [this record] was a great opportunity to be like, well, if I was behind the camera, what kind of New York would I try to capture?... In some ways it's like After Hours meets Airplane!. A screwball comedy about someone's nighttime misadventures in New York City."

Cool, moody, and a little romantic, VEGA INTL. Night School would be appropriate music for a late-night cab ride up the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. It's a new sound with unmistakable ties to the old Neon Indian. Most jarring, though, is thatfor the most partthe production is squeaky clean, which will surely surprise a lot of fans who had grown accustomed to the first two records' warped and faded vibe. Palomo chose to let evolution take its course, however, and not let others' expectations guide the course of his creativity.

"If you don't think the record's lo-fi enough, just dub it to cassette and you'll totally vibe with it then," says Palomo, with a laugh. "There's a point where you're just arbitrarily forcing things to have a certain fidelity.... Plus, there was no reason to do it, because I'd already done it. Why would I make a sequel to Psychic Chasms six years later? We've been talking about movies, and that feels, to me, like a reboot."

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's November/December Issue, which is still on newsstands. This is its debut online.]

www.neonindian.com

 

 

 

 



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