Exclusive: The Unabridged Tale of Neon Indian


Today, you are about to be diagnosed as Terminally Chill. Today, you will know the secret of Neon Indian.

If your initial thought is, “Wait, isn’t that a casino at a Native American reservation camp?,” then you are mistaken. If your thought is, “a mysterious duo…’a guy and a girl who make music via correspondence. One in Brooklyn, one in Austin,'” then you are only half right.

The legend of Neon Indian began in early April, when indie music blog titans, Gorilla Vs. Bear, posted up two of the band’s songs, citing an email containing the cryptic description mentioned above. Shortly thereafter, the online domino effect that is the blogopshere sent the two tracks, “Should Have Taken Acid With You” and “6699 (I Don’t Know if You Know),” across the internet and back. Bloggers wet their beds as a new song, “Deadbeat Summer,” hit the web alongside the announcement of the band’s Psychic Chasms “7 EP and the October 13th release date for the Psychic Chasms LP.

Talk continued, but blogger sleuths remained stumped as to the band’s true identity. Adding to the intrigue was zero photographic evidence and zero information besides the band’s vague geographic locations.

Later that month, Crystal Castles cancels their show. The indie-electro band, one that was arguably “made for and by the Internet,” bails on the venue due to allegedly stolen effects pedals and beer. VEGA, the opening act was accused of thievery, making headlines on the online indie music publications, Pitchfork, Stereogum, and Brooklyn Vegan. VEGA lead singer, Alan Palomo, set the record straight, explaining the debacle arose from miscommunication and mistaken pedals.

The (sort of obvious) unveiling

Remember that scene in Fight Club, the moment you realize that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are actually the same person? Alan Palomo is one half of Neon Indian. He revealed his identity earlier this month. “It’s ironic that it made people more curious. I considered maintaining [anonymity], but it’s just very unrealistic. At some point, especially with my hair, people would of eventually go, ‘You know, he kind of looks like that guy from VEGA…'” says Palomo. It’s also ironic that, while everyone knew who Alan Palomo was, no one knew who Alan Palomo was. Both Neon Indian and VEGA were making music headlines at the same time, and yet nobody made the connection.

“There’s been a misconception of our roles,” says Palomo of Alicia, the member of Neon Indian hailing from Brooklyn. “Alicia tackles it from a visual standpoint. The initial project of Neon Indian was this multimedia maelstrom, and over time we want to start incorporating videos, teasers, and graphics.” The full scope of Neon Indian will only be realized when Palomo moves to Brooklyn later this year. As of now, the two artists, who have known each other since their days on their ever-so-posh high school literary mag team, collaborate via internet by sending each other sample ideas, melodies and even short works of fiction.

Citing Bjorn Copeland of the Black Dice as an example of an artist who uses artwork to complement the music, Palomo explains, “these projects always have more longevity in the sense that there’s a different concept that comes out — that’s definitely what we’re looking to do with Neon Indian.”

“The person I should have taken acid with was her,” confesses Palomo, referring to the woozy, I can’t believe it’s wasn’t conceived on acid! electro song, “Should Have Taken Acid with You.” “It was more of a humorous apology. I was experimenting with songs and I didn’t have any expectations for the aesthetics, it was more about using certain new tools that I had.” The song stems from a vivid, lucid dream of Palomo’s, in which he and Alica had taken a hallucinogen and spent an afternoon strolling through a park. After recounting the dream for for Alica, she asked, “Do you really want to do that?”

Grizzly Bear’s blessing, buzz-band status

Earlier this month, Palomo regained internet access in a Belgium hotel. He turned on his computer to find that Neon Indian’s latest single, “Terminally Chill,” was the number one track on the music blog aggregator Elbo.ws. Grizzly Bear‘s Ed Droste had even given the band a shout-out through his Twitter. The blogs had been buzzing more fervently then ever. It’s only a matter of time before everyone else catches on.

The scarlet letter of the music industry is “B” for buzz-band. This label is often associated with acts who garner hype so quickly that the music itself is negated, appearing stale in comparison to the praise-happy chatter. When asked if he fears being labeled as such, Palomo remains confidently unconcerned. “There’s been a few label offers that would cater to the possibility that this thing would become overwhelming, but I declined under the basis that I’d rather let Neon Indian grow naturally and let the music speak for itself.”

Palomo’s advice to avoid the fate of the buzzband label is to “ensure that as soon as you expose your music to people, you can back it up with a live performance and more material.” Remaining true to his word, Palomo has been fine tuning a live act for his upcoming first show, Colorado’s Monolith Music Festival on September 12th, and a tour later this year. The tour will occur simultaneously with that of his other band, VEGA.

“VEGA is more of a labor of love; its goal is to create unadulterated pop music that can speak to anyone, to be accessible and to create interesting sounds in the context of dance music. Neon Indian has far more open range in terms of being able to try new things out,” says Palomo of the dichotomy within his music. But wouldn’t shifting between the two bands invoke a hyperactive identity crisis? “Balancing both of them keeps me sane.”

Download “Terminally Chill” for free on RCRD LBL.