An Interview with: Palence
Palence is a twenty-five year old producer and composer currently living in London. Palence self describes his music as “Post-sludge”, a mixture of Sludge Rock and Post Rock, and Palence has certainly popularized the style over the past five years. While studying in France for a year, perhaps inspired by the romantic ambiance of the country, Palence began to be interested in producing his own music. Since then, he has been hard at work releasing over 53 tracks since first beginning on Soundcloud in 2014. When he is not creating music, Palence spends his time freelancing a variety of artistic gigs while composing soundscapes for a collection of movies and films. While his songs sound as if they are being played by a full band, all of the instruments are produced and arranged by Palence himself. To the surprise of his fans, Palence is releasing a new album, “Echo Epoch” which for the first time will feature his vocals this Winter.
What is your name and how old are you?
My real name is Savanh and I’m struggling to cope with the fact that I’ve turned 25 and am an adult.
Where are you from? Have you moved around a lot? If so, how has each place affected you?
I was born in Bristol in the UK and for the first 3-4 years of my life my family & I moved around a lot, including a year out in Berlin. I’ve been living in London for the past 20-ish years though, so it’s definitely what I would call home. I have very little memory of those first few early years of moving about, so they don’t seem all that influential - however more recently I spent a year studying in France which coincidentally was the same year I developed an interest in making music.
What was school like for you, were you interested in the arts as a kid?
Yes I was very interested in the visual arts from a young age - I would draw, paint and read a lot. I had/still do have quite a short attention span & this would sometimes land me in trouble. I also used to like climbing onto roofs, the higher the better, which I now acknowledge wasn’t fun for all parties involved. I was also encouraged on the musical front, but it wasn’t always presented in the most engaging of ways, so I didn’t approach with it with the same enthusiasm as I do now.
What were your parents like, were they are artistic at all? Did they support your artistic ambitions?
My parents are great, very down to earth and open-minded. They’re both artists and these days they usually collaborate with one another on projects. They’re supported me through a number of different ambitions and are even kind enough to offer me work when I really need it.
Completely unashamed to disclose that my mum is one of my top listeners on Soundcloud.
What do you do for work, are you working/employed?
I’ve had stints where I work freelance, accepting design work, film editing, sound mixing etc. and even the occasional art conservation job. Right now, I’m composing a series of soundscapes to accompany a set of films made by my parents - the first one is up and running now, open to the public. AV magazine did an article on it not too long ago and featured a lovely picture of the bottom of my chin: https://www.avinteractive.com/case-studies/raising-roof-led-innovation-30-08-2018/
Who were some artists who influenced you while growing up?
Musically speaking I’d have to cite Aphex Twin as a source of inspiration - I have huge admiration for him and his work, both technically and creatively. My taste in music is in a constant state of flux so I now listen to very few of the same artists that I did when growing up, but AFX is one of those rare exceptions.
Do you think artists should be judged by their actions in life? Or are the artist and the art divided?
I approach this phenomenon from a rather straightforward angle: Claiming artist status should never grant an individual some sort of transcendental authority where they & their work are able to avoid culpability & criticism - they’re still people with responsibilities at the end of the day. Artists should ideally be judged by both their work and their actions (which are ultimately extensions of one another anyway), and if the two happen to contradict one another without it explicitly being explained why, then it’s fair to question their integrity.
What do you think of contemporary fashion? What are some of the your favorite brands and what do you think is the impact of a "perfect fit"?
I’m completely out of the loop fashion-wise, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I hate fashion, but I certainly don’t engage with it either. I like to feel comfortable and to have lots of room so I favour old heavy, loose-fitting workwear in dark colours - that’s about as fussy as I get.
What are your expectations and plans for the rest of 2018?
By the end of this year I plan to release a full-length Slowcore tape - something wildly different to my usual stuff in terms of style. I’m aiming for a more organic band-y sound with it, even though it’s all produced solo by myself, and will be using my voice for the first time. It’s going to be called ‘echo epoch’ & will be free to download.
I’ve also been putting together a selection of demos to send out to a London-based label that specialises in film and TV scoring work - but that may be delayed til early 2019 now as I want to flesh it out with some newer & more appropriate material.
Your cover references fire, does that imagery have any particular meaning?
Not really no, although I admit I have sort of maintained it as a recurring characteristic in my visual artworks. It all began when I was searching around on a creative commons site for some found footage to use in a video, and I came across an amazing clip of a palm tree burning down against a grey sky - it was such a strong shot that I began to use more and more fire-related imagery from then on.
How would you describe "Post-sludge"?
Much like the fire imagery - it once had meaning but has sort of stuck and taken on more of a symbolic quality now. 3-ish years ago my style of guitar playing & melodies, although principally influenced by Post-Rock, were much darker and had an element of Metal to them - so I sort of took the ’Sludge’ from Sludge Rock and the ‘Post’ from Post-Rock, whacked them together and Post-Sludge was born.
All of your songs are titled 1 word, is there a reason for this?
I usually opt for one word titles because I find they simply fit, but additionally, presenting someone with a single word can also be entertaining - the ambiguity of the lone word can sometimes work like planting a seed. It taps in to most peoples’ overwhelming urge to create meaning from nothing - it will never be a full sentence yet some people try to make it so. I find watching different people all come to their different conclusions interesting.