Fredericton neo-classical duo Pallmer teamed up with friends old and new for their latest recording and video project.
Mark Kleyn and Emily Kennedy went out of their way to record their latest single. Approximately 14 hours out of their way, in fact. Acting on an invitation from their friend and occasional collaborator Charlie Harding, the pair traveled to Montreal to participate in a class project at Concordia University.
“I suggested to my group that we reach out to Pallmer and everyone was into it,” said Harding, who is currently working on his BFA in Electroacoustic Studies at Concordia University. “Emily and Mark came to Montreal at the end of March last year to record with us. We recorded over a Saturday afternoon and mixed and mastered the same weekend.”
Harding and Kennedy used to perform together with guitarist Luke Wilson under the name Property//. Around the time Harding and Wilson moved to Montreal in 2018, Kennedy formed Pallmer with violist Mark Kleyn. All four musicians performed together at this year’s Shivering Songs festival and are currently exploring the possibilities of writing more music as a four-piece.
For Harding, a chance to see some long distance friends was only part of the reason he invited them up to record. He also knew their instruments and their compositions would be the perfect fit for the project.
“I find that I really like the rich resonance of both instruments,” said Harding. “They present a lot of possibilities to make use of satisfying scratchy harmonics that add a lot of character to the music being played. The two instruments are such a natural combo that have such a long history together. It’s so interesting to see the ways that Emily and Mark use these instruments to blend their classical training with more experimental, postmodern ideas that remain accessible to a wide range of people.”
Over the past couple of years Pallmer have been bridging the gap between the province’s classical and indie music communities by combining elements of both genres into a diaphanous sound uniquely their own.
With a pair of EPs to their credit, Kleyn and Kennedy wanted to try something new to support what they recorded with Harding. They wanted to make a video. After meeting photographer Sarah Kierstead and learning she had an interest in filming and editing, they invited her to collaborate.
“We were looking for someone to work with on a video and we met Sarah,” explained Kennedy. “She had come to one of our gigs and we have friends in common so we kinda met that way. Her work is beautiful. She does mostly photography but she was wanting to get more into videography and so she immediately jumped on board.”
Kierstead had been shooting wedding videos and other projects prior to focusing on photography. Teaming up with Pallmer gave her a chance to reconnect with an interest she had left largely unexplored.
“I sort of abandoned my curiosity with filmmaking for a while,” said Kierstead. “Last summer, I found myself very inspired by the local artist and music community and the beauty of the Maritimes and decided to revisit the idea of making videos as a means of storytelling. When Emily reached out, I was definitely on board to give a music video a try and thankful for such a great learning opportunity.
“An aspect I have always loved about Pallmer’s writing is that it leaves room for interpretation,” she said. “My approach to previous video projects has often been to piece together visuals that are more of a literal reflection of the lyrics or story, but with this video, I didn’t want to create too much of a fixed narrative for the viewer. I wanted my filming style to be just as emotionally driven as the song itself. I am probably their biggest fan-girl. Even before meeting them and knowing the humility and grace they both carry as musicians and people, there is something so honest and pure about their playing and their unshakeable ability to captivate a room. I have gotten to hear them play live quite a few times now and I still feel very moved anytime I hear them.”
Restrictions resulting from COVID-19 came into play at the time Kierstead was rehearsing with dance Madison Dixon. Both artists were exploring the chosen space and available lighting while listening to the song on repeat. Days later it became evident that the project’s planned shoot would have to be cancelled. Luckily, Kierstead shot most of the rehearsal.
“The scenes in the video that were filmed at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre auditorium were actually taken from what was meant to be our rehearsal day,” said Kierstead. “Our amazing dancer, Madison Dixon, and I had met in the space as a starting point to plan out choreography and map out filming angles. I only ended up filming what I did to have something to review for planning purposes and as stock for a teaser. Long story short, within a week of that day, everything started to shut down and we were left with no ability to work together again for the foreseeable future.
“It probably doesn’t make me sound like a very conventional filmmaker, but I think in this case, having to create a piece primarily from the b-roll almost better achieved my initial goal,” she said. “It wasn’t over-rehearsed. The shots aren’t perfectly composed or planned out, but Madi’s dancing was purely an expression of listening to Allude to What for the first couple of times on a bluetooth speaker in a room lit up by the morning’s natural glow.”
Allude to What is the first of more new music from Pallmer planned for the coming year. Kleyn and Kennedy are currently plotting the release of their third EP and expect to release it sometime later this year.
“We recorded an EP before lockdown started,” said Kleyn.” We were going to do a tour this summer but that is getting postponed or cancelled. So we have an EP that we need to do something with. We’ll probably do some more videos with that. We haven’t written a whole lot of new music recently. We’re just trying to wrap up a few things we have still open.”