Catching up with Palehound at CMJ: “I would love to be influential to someone.”

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Photography by Amanda Silberling

“I played my first show that wasn’t at a Connecticut youth camp across the street at the Red Lion – it was an open mic,” Ellen Kempner of Palehound says to the crowd’s amusement at Le Possion Rouge. But after releasing Dry Food, a debut full-length to die for, summer camp is a thing of the past for the twenty-one-year-old multi-instrumentalist. When Kempner takes stage at Le Possion Rouge for NPR Music’s official CMJ showcase, it’s her third time performing in one day. She’s tired and feeling a bit under the weather – she even jokes about wanting her band to be sponsored by Midol – but after Kempner powers through her set from start to finish, you couldn’t tell that she was in the middle of her own CMJ marathon.

Dry Food is a record without a dull moment. On any given song, Kempner subtly changes tempo and key back and forth, and she characterizes her sound with distinctive, discordant harmonies between her voice and guitar. Kempner’s lyrics are gloomy yet self-aware to the point of hilarity; on “Healthier Folk,” the song Kempner opens with at this particular showcase, she sings: “Too stoned, take an antibiotic […]/I only feel half right around healthier folk.”

On November 10th, Palehound will come to PhilaMOCA with Mitski and PWR BTTM for a show that’s so hyped that it already sold out. If Palehound’s performance throughout the week at CMJ told us anything, it’s that Kempner will sell out many more shows in the years to come.

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1 Comment

  1. Bryana Natale

    October 28, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    After reading this interview, it was a MUST that I listened to “Cinnamon,” and man it does not disappoint. Watched a live version, she kills it on the guitar.

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