A chat with Palace’s Leo Wyndham

Late last year, Platform’s social secretary George Cowell was able to have a conversation with Leo Wyndham, frontman and lead songwriter of Palace. It was a pleasure to hear him talk about his songwriting process, his thoughts on spirituality, and where he hopes to go after this year…

George: Did you find that lockdown was conducive to good songwriting or did you find that it stifled your creative process?

Leo: I felt like for me personally, it was very productive, I think when I’m forced to be alone, with no distractions, I feel like that’s when I’m most creative and that’s when I can really tap into certain things, I was constantly playing my guitar, songwriting became kind of addictive.

G: I love a theme. Something I’ve noticed about your album artwork is that it all, thematically quite similar, looks somewhat abstract and painted. Can you tell me a bit more about the process of creating your artwork?

L: The artwork is done by my younger brother, Wilby; he’s an amazing artist. He was our first ever bassist, actually, before we even had a name. He very much has creative control over our aesthetic. Some of the pieces he creates are massive! Sometimes they can get to three meters high. I feel like in some ways, it’s another string to our bow to have this aesthetic.

G: I’ve read in an earlier interview with Matt, he said “We love that big, epic reverb-y vibe that takes you places” and I know exactly what he means, your songs can create a real atmosphere – how important is it for your songs to create an atmosphere and how in particular do you go about creating that distinctive sound?

L: When we started the band for fun, I wanted to start a band where we’re playing big atmospheric music, I went out and bought a reverb pedal and we went in with references to Jeff Buckley and Woo Life. And if you go and listen to those two artists you can sort of see where Palace was born. We knew we wanted to have this intensity and this emotion and sensitivity but also this roughness and rawness and size and grandeur to it. As musicians, we’re not polished and this is something we try and maintain to this day.

G: A favourite song of mine, is Heaven Up There, it’s a song which stirs up real emotion, has heavy connotations to religion, and it’s the same with one of your our newest song Someday, Somewhere, has religious connotations with lyrics such as:” “I pray you find yourselves as souls divide.” How important is spirituality in your songwriting processes?

L: Spirituality is something that’s really important to me as a person, and the idea of the soul and connections is something I really believe in and gravitate to. Religion is something I don’t necessarily believe in, but for me, the higher power is the spirit and the soul. The idea of everyone having a soul, in my songwriting this is something I’ve always invested in, and written about.

G: What is some advice you’d give to musicians trying to hone their sound and create something as unique as yours?

L: One of the most important things is to always have fun, don’t lose that fun. When it starts becoming too serious, when you’re thinking too hard about what people wanna hear, you’re kinda f**ked. The key is to write from a place of honesty, that’s the starting point. If you’re concerned about what people WANT to hear, it’s dishonest, if you’re writing about what you want, that’s the best place, don’t judge too much.

G: We’re living in strange times – how do you find support/ keep yourselves above board through these ridiculous times?

L: Our life-force and our life is touring. It’s our bread and butter, it’s a real hit for us. We’re writing constantly, we’re preparing a new album, it’s kind of keeping us going but we have many days of the week feeling pretty low. We’re just trying to get through it. I have a tendency to get stuck in a bleak cycle, and you just need to find the positives and keep moving forward.

G: Your new EP is just outstanding – I haven’t stopped listening to it since it was released. Can you give me a brief history of how those two songs came to be?

L: Someday, Somewhere is an old one, a few years old maybe, it was written through a break-up, and went through a period, of adapting to change, and how you go through change and deal with it, it was about self-reflection.

I’ll Be Fine we came up with in lockdown, but it’s not about the lockdown, it’s about searching for homeostasis, that evades us and about that constant search for mental consistency. Certainly, with myself, I have struggled to find that straight line, and it’s about going through that with my girlfriend, and her strength. We love the songs, with I’ll be fine, we wrote that song all separately, and it came out okay.

G: What does the future hold for Palace once we find ourselves returning to some form of normality? Are you excited about the prospect of returning to festivals?

L: So, the main thing is writing the third album, and we’ll record that early next year, hopefully, we’ll get them out next year, and pray that things resume, and then we’re just going to tour the hell out of it and get out there, and do what we love doing; playing.

Fingers crossed for everybody.

By George Cowell

Feature Image Credit: chuffmedia

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