Ellen Kempner of Palehound – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, May 27th, 2024  

Ellen Kempner of Palehound – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In

“The fact that our government is obviously more focused on reopening the economy than protecting its citizens is disgusting and very par for the course.”

Apr 28, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

We are checking in with musicians during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to see how they are dealing with everything. What has their home quarantine experience been like so far and how is the crisis impacting both their career and art? Here we check in with Ellen Kempner, frontwoman and songwriter for Palehound.

We’re living in future history right now, unprecedented times that will define our era. At some point we will be living in a forever-changed post-COVID-19 timeline, but right now we’re deep in it. Many have had their livelihood interrupted by the pandemic and included are most musicians, who make a lot of their money by touring and performing, two things they can’t do right now. Most record stores are closed and vinyl factories are shut down, so album sales are depressed too. Our intention with this series is to highlight the challenges musicians are going through right now to hopefully encourage our readers and their fans to rally around and support each musician (financially if you can, but we know it’s tough out there for many people).

We’re all in this together, a whole planet united in this fight, and we hope these interviews will help illustrate that. We put together the same set of questions about the current crisis and emailed them to several musicians and will be posting their responses as they come in.

Palehound released a new album, Black Friday, back in June 2019 via Polyvinyl. It was the follow up to 2017’s A Place I’ll Always Go. Kempner co-produced Black Friday with Gabe Wax (Beirut, Soccer Mommy). It was recorded at Panoramic House in Stinson Beach, California, mainly tracked live with Kempner and her bandmates Jesse Weiss (drums) and Larz Brogan (bass).

Kempner also had this to say about the album in a press release announcing it: “Making music’s always been a therapeutic thing for me—that’s such a big part of the reason why I do it in the first place. What I always want to do with my songs is to help people heal in some way, or come to some new understanding about whatever it is that they’re going through. Even if it’s just hearing a song and feeling less alone than they were before, that would mean so much to me.”

Palehound also released a new song, “See a Light,” in February. “‘See a Light’ is about how love ages and the ways in which you have to keep up with yourself to make it work,” explained Kempner in a press release. “I recorded and mixed this song myself which was a really cool and empowering experience, I’m always trying to learn more.”

Read on as Kempner reflects on her COVID-19 experience so far. She has also submitted a photo of herself under quarantine.

Where are you spending the quarantine and who are you spending it with? If you’re spending it with other people, have you found that the quarantine has brought you closer together or caused tension?

I’m with my partner Ari. I feel that this time has definitely brought us closer. He’s truly my best friend as well as my lover so we’ve been very content spending every moment together, which has been illuminating and reassuring for us.

Is everyone in your family safe and healthy so far?

Thank God yes.

What’s your daily routine been like? Have you spent much time outdoors? And since musicians spend so much time on the road, have you found it hard adjusting to so much time at home?

It’s been very hard for me to adjust to being home all the time. The idea of not touring is devastating to me. To combat the depression that comes with that I’ve been delving into learning home recording more intimately. Going outdoors helps a lot too. Ari and I have been going hiking and biking when weather permits.

What financial impact has COVID-19 had on you and your band? Have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances or postpone an album release because of COVID-19 and how will that affect you in the long term?

We were in the middle of a tour that we had to cancel the remaining dates on, which was a nightmare. We were all the way in Oregon and had to drive straight home to NY and missed half the dates. Definitely a big blow. Now it’s looking like we won’t even be able to reschedule them and everything we had booked for the summer has fallen through.

Do you trust the government and our leaders (such as President Trump) to effectively deal with the pandemic? What most concerns you about the response of elected leaders at home and abroad?

Absolutely not I do not trust them to do anything right. They’ve already fucked this up so bad and caused this worst case scenario. I trust that they will do everything they can to get money in their pockets regardless of how many lives will be lost in the process. The fact that our government is obviously more focused on reopening the economy than protecting its citizens is disgusting and very par for the course.

Which sources of news have you been turning to most during COVID-19 and which social media platform have you found most useful?

I don’t really have a specific news source that I rely on. Honestly I’m just always on twitter reading articles that people whose opinions I trust and respect write/retweet.

What do you think will be the lasting effects on society of all this isolated time at home?

It can go so many ways. People could want closeness more than ever after this or be too scared to ever be close again. We’re all gonna have a collective trauma which I would hope would make us more empathetic as a whole but I’ve learned you can’t rely on empathy.

Are your parents, grandparents, and others in your life who are at risk taking social distancing seriously? If not, what lengths have you gone to in order to convince them to stay inside?

They are taking it seriously which is a relief! I’m still a nervous wreck though and my dad is getting sick of me telling him to wash his hands I’m sure. My mom and grandmother are in rural Wyoming so I’m not too concerned about them, they’re also social distancing and staying responsible.

What is the best way fans can support you financially right now? Buying vinyl and CDs, downloading and streaming your music, buying merch, supporting your Patreon page or other crowd sourcing platform (if you use one), or some other means? Is there a particularly cool piece of merch you’d like to highlight?

Thank you for this question but I would like to use this answer to point to a few places you could donate to that need your help more than I do! Like Covid Bailout NYC, Equality for Flatbush, and Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network.

Which albums, songs, films, TV shows, books, podcasts, live streams, video games, board games, etc, have been helping you get through the quarantine?

I have become a 12-year-old boy and have been playing like two hours of Fortnite a day. My partner and I squad with our two friends who are also a queer couple and we honestly win all the time and it feels really empowering to be a gay gamer, just gonna say it.

Have you been doing any live-streamed concerts during COVID-19 or do you plan to? A lot of artists have been doing them, do you think it’s a challenge to make them original and interesting?

Yeah, I’ve done a few of them. Trying to find a way to make that a little more collaborative/interesting at the moment. Doing some brainstorming.

Is there something you’ve been putting off for a long time, but are now doing with this time at home?

Learning how to record better!

Has the quarantine been a fertile creative time (are you writing or recording new music, for example) or have you found it hard to focus on creative endeavors?

It has been! The experience of being on a doomed tour was really hard but also very inspiring so I kinda went into quarantine with an arsenal of feelings to turn into songs.

Beyond the obvious items (such as toilet paper), what things have you made sure to get from the grocery store when stocking up? And, also, do you have any toilet paper?

My partner and I went to the grocery store the other day and lost it when we realized that our cart looked like what you’d expect from a kid who just smoked weed for the first time. We had ice cream, three different kinds of oven fries, Takis, and a bunch of other junk food. We eat a lot of veggies and tuna sandwiches too.






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