Palmbomen is the Dutch delegate at BAMM.tv’s three-day SXSW platform launch event. So we feel it’s about time for a proper introduction of this boy wonder of italo and chillwave. His NON Records debut Moon Children EP has attracted attention from numerous blogs around Europe, not to mention the famous French electro/house label Kitsuné (Digitalism, Crystal Fighters a.o.) , whom issued a number of remixes from the young producer. Aside from this, he’s producing records for his fellow NON artists, including BAMM.tv staff favorites THE BENELUX. As we speak, Palmbomen (Palm Trees) is flying to Miami for that other major music gathering, WMC. We talk to the man behind the blond hair and processed vocals, singer/producer Kai Hugo, as he’s getting ready to spread his wings.
Hi Kai, how’s it going?
“I’m doing okay. I’m still recovering from a flu I caught a couple of days ago. It’s been pretty hectic the past weeks. I’ve been crashing the couch at a friends house for two weeks now. And meanwhile I’ve been working on my album, producing for others… so pretty busy.”
So where did you come up with the name Palmbomen?
“Well, it’s linked to the story of how I got started. A year or two ago, my girlfriend was organising this festival in Utrecht where I lived, and they needed someone to pitch in for an artist that cancelled their gig a week before the festival. They invited me to do ‘something’ to fill the slot. I was dabbling with electro at the time but felt like doing something different. Me and my friend Swiere (aka HyperHyper, another Non Records artist) had this idea for a kind of cool tropical 80’s project that reflected the atmosphere of these tropical swimmingpools. All we had at the time was this name, Palmbomen. I decided to use this on this project. It stuck.”
You’ve been doing quite a few performances abroad. Where have you been so far?
“Well, things are only about to get started internationally. So far, we went to France, Belgium, Germany. But that was all small stuff. We’ve only just started working with Kitsuné, so the best is yet to come. We’re planning on doing a number of small tours, stringing as many dates together as we could. I live in Berlin these days, so this way it’s easier to produce logistically.”
Palmbomen’s first shot at glory, the Moon Children EP, is a crafty six-song 12” which clearly showcases some of his main assets: vintage synths, slow pulsing disco beats, and vocals that sound both warm and distant at the same time.
Palmbomen live @ 5daysoff festival, Amsterdam. Click the pic to enlarge. Photo: Nick Lapien
How does the EP translate to live?
“It’s still a bit of a quest to find the right balance. I’m definitely looking to bring more up-tempo stuff into the mix, and add more dynamics to the set. Most of the songs on the EP came into being during the first few days I got started. It’s really more the starting point of a search to find out where I want to go with my music.”
You’re working on your first full-length. Any clues as to what it’s going to be like?
“I find it hard to talk about what I’m going to do with the album. I just don’t know. On the one hand I’m looking to put a deeper side of myself into Palmbomen, instead of making just a dancefloor records. But on the other hand I’m also delving into my Italo roots. I’m still searching. A lot of songs are killed in the process.”
Both you and the rest of the NON Records crew name Italo as an important influence. How did you first encounter this style of music?
“I got hooked on production at a fairly early age. I bought a few Italo-samplers by accident, and really liked it. Especially the early days inspired me, around ’82 – ’83, before the introduction of MIDI. They had this rough edge in the production, especially with the drums. Later on, I was inspired by Daft Punk and such, French filterhouse. They were inspired by the same thing. Also, there was this song on a Dutch Sesame Street cd. It had a wonderful electronic sound. I also like the fact that there is a lot of pop to be found on those early Italo records.”
Your off to tour the USA tomorrow. What’s the plan?
“We’re flying to Miami first. We’ve got a few gigs set up around WMC. WMC is much more about trance and techno than pop and electro, but there’s a lot of neat little parties going on downtown. You can catch Erol Alkan DJ’ing for a few people at a barbecue, which is great. After that, we’re off to New Orleans. Not sure what we’ve got going on there, but we’ll find somewhere to play or do a DJ set or something. From there on, we’re at SXSW for a few days, and then it’s off to Los Angeles for a few more dates.”
What do you expect from SXSW and your showcase at BAMM.tv’s platform launchparty?
“From what I’ve read, there are about 850 bands in the line-up, 1500 if you count all the showcases surrounding the official program. And most of them are playing multiple gigs there. So I’m excited to meet a ton of musicians and see them play. We went to WMC last year and picked up some great contacts. We’re hoping to find equally fertile grounds in Austin.
As far as the showcase is concerned: It’s definitely the earliest gig I’ve ever played. It’ll be interesting to see how my lighting rig will work out at noon. The music and the lighting rig interact, you see. It’s an important part of the show. Also, I’m a real nightperson, so waking up at noon is unusual for me, let alone play a gig!”
Palmbomen will be playing the BAMM.tv’s SXSW Platform Launch Party @ Beauty Bar on March 17th. He’ll be on at 12:00 PM. Don’t be late!
Jasper van der Put (1987) is a member of BAMM’s music team. Working from Amsterdam, Jasper will share his thoughts on current developments in the music of North-Western Europe.