The richly textured soundscapes that La Palma are so good at creating kept us hooked with ‘Infinite Bounce‘ and ‘Sábado‘. These two singles are part of their latest album Moonflower that dips into a surrealist landscape while touching on a range of themes. Each track brings the layered melodics that we are coming to link to the band while offering a little insight into the world and ourselves. We sat down with the duo (Chris Walker and Tim Gibbon) to talk about Moonflower, creative processes, vinyl releases and much more!
OSR: You met each other while playing with different bands, but what prompted you to form La Palma?
Chris: Though we met when we were playing in bands back in the mid-2000’s we didn’t form La Palma until over 10 years later. I think as we got older we both sadly watched our music output begin to wither over the years. Like a muscle, our songwriting began to atrophy. La Palma has felt like a slap of the legs, a reminder we still have some miles left in us.
OSR: Your latest album Moonflower has been in the works since your last album was released. What made you feel that now was the right time to release it?
Tim: This album took shape very naturally, at its own pace. We weren’t making music with a specific end goal or timeline in mind, but more because we love making music and inspiration kept providing itself, and eventually we found ourselves with a set of songs that added up to a cohesive album. The pandemic and having young kids at home, my son was born right when we started working on the album, certainly stretched out the process, but also added to its sense of gravity. The timing really does feel right: we released the album exactly two years after our first album (to the day), and at a time when the flowers are starting to open up after a heavy winter, and the world is just starting to re-emerge from pandemic lockdown. That feeling of hope emerging from darkness is at the heart of the album.
OSR: The album continues the layered and vibrant sound of your music, but what is the story or theme to it?
Chris: I think the songs by nature have a very visual element to them, some of them are meant to sound like movie scenes, some to sound like memories and some to sound like dreams. The highly textured sounds come from a desire to make listening to our music more than just about hearing it, we want you to see the breeze blowing. We want you to see what we saw when we wrote it.
OSR: To create your music, you use a correspondence style process, how do you feel this enhances the layering of your music?
Tim: Right, we make our music by passing sound files back and forth to each other across the country. It’s out of necessity, but this process informs our sound. It allows us to work slowly and reflectively before adding new layers. And since we aren’t playing in a room together in a traditional band set up, we’re not concerned with the logistics of how to play the music live, or who plays the guitar on a certain song. Maybe there is no guitar and something unexpected like the sound of an old player piano and a recording of a family member washing rice better serve the song, as was the case for the song ‘Forsythia’.
OSR: There are a lot of themes and experiences touched on in the album, but what do you feel is the one thread that connects them all?
Chris: Living your life and using music to slow it all down for a minute.
OSR: The tracks on the album drift from one to the other, how easy was it to create the individual yet wholistic flow?
Tim: Yes, we wanted the songs to merge from one to another, like a series of shifting dreams. While we created each song separately, they fed off each other and served as springboards to writing the next track. For instance, Chris wrote the first half of the song ‘Lilac’ and I wrote the second half in response. They’re basically two separate songs but connected by some internal logic and flow. Thematic elements, lyrics, and sounds keep popping up and connecting songs to each other. I think that Moonflower makes the most sense when listened to as an album.
OSR: The album is also being released on vinyl in May, why choose to do this?
Chris: I’ve personally received a lot of enthusiasm from people asking for a copy of the record on vinyl, some before the record was even released. I think as people become more and more digital in nature, a part of all of us wants to reach for that analogue object, that branch that feels like a tree. I also love the idea of our music in a physical form.
OSR: The cover of the vinyl record has a hand-silkscreened cover, who designed and executed this?
Tim: I designed the record covers and printed them at home on our dining room table. I wanted a screen time-free experience, just x-acto knives, ink, squeegee and cardboard. It’s an image of a moonflower, printed in glow-in-the-dark ink, and the La Palma lettering was designed by artist and friend Carly Rounds. I wanted to make something that feels nice on the hands, that’s meant to be held and cherished, an antidote to the fleeting virtual-ness of music and art in the cell phone age.
OSR: If people could only listen to one song from the album, which would you recommend and why?
Chris: Personally as a songwriter, I’m always striving for this ideal where you take an experience in life and translate it into song form. It can be difficult to match tone to lyrics, to really have them synched like a person and their shadow. I think ‘Awake’, the second to last track on the record, does that very well. The song you hear is the sound of what Tim’s singing about, the vibe you get is matched.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?
Tim: We’re building some video visuals for the album now and navigating our way through online performance in a way that feels meaningful for us. As inspiration strikes, we’ll answer the call.