Aleksa Palladino is an actor and musician who lives in New York City with her husband Devon Church. Their band Exitmusic is currently touring in support of their newest album, Passage released on the Secretly Canadian record label.
Interview by Emma Kathan
Photographs by Adam Goldberg
CITY: New York City
Was there a certain theme or emotion running through your mind for your newest album, Passage?
I rarely sit down to write a song about something specific. We record as we write so the whole song begins to take shape at the same time. The music influences the vocal melody and in turn the lyrics and then these influence the music; its a circle. There is a lot of discovery in our recording process because we don’t know where we are going when we start. Once a song is done it has all the stages preserved in it: the initial inspiration, the recognition, and the follow through.
From what do you most commonly draw inspiration when writing lyrics?
There are themes that have been ever present: life, loss, loneliness, trying to understand the human experience, trying to understand my own experiences—trying to allow them, to make them worthwhile, and to find some kind of grace.
What keeps you amused and/or sane while touring extensively?
Strangely enough our van has become a safe haven for me. We are in it for hours a day, and I know it’s the only place I have where I am in a way unreachable. I love the quiet time it brings us, the personal space to be in your own head with your own thoughts. We’ve also been listening to a lot of NPR podcasts which help keep us sane.
Have you ever been inspired lyrically by the characters you’ve portrayed in films or television? More specifically, has being in another character’s frame of mind helped you see things differently, and does that ever come across as inspiration for lyric writing?
When you live with or as a character different emotions and experiences are brought to the surface, and I can’t help but write from these. Writing has also influenced characters. I think the more you understand how to communicate and express yourself through either art form the stronger they both become, because you’re the source of it all.
What has been inspiring you lately, e.g., music, books, films, etc?
I love a lot of things but outside sources don’t seem to motivate me to create anything. I like a lot of quiet around me when I’m working. I don’t like to input anything. I also go through phases of not wanting to write anything or rather waiting to write, waiting for something that wants to be revealed. It’s like volcanic eruption; I need things to build and build until the pressure created forces them out.
Musically speaking, what was the first record, cassette, c.d., that you bought as an adolescent that changed your life?
Nirvana woke me up. I had already been writing songs, but was still too young and scared to open me up to me. Nirvana was a gateway to my own frustration and anger.
What’s currently been on your mind?
In this moment: word combination, staring out of the van window on long night drives, seeing the world pass by in a blur of highway lines and forest edges, NASA space sound recordings, photographs, nail biting, hard rain, NPR podcasts, animals, my mother’s voice.
Do you have recurring dreams that you remember?
A city that is meant to be New York, but isn’t with a bridge that leads to nowhere.