Usually, I can sense a fellow emo kid, well…adult, but I was not on top of my game when it came time to chat with Tree Palmedo from Peaceful Faces. I was sure with their March 10th release, ‘Sifting Through The Goo, Reaching For The Candlelight,’ that perhaps a fan of MySpace era pop punk was around. Alas, I was wrong and a little surprised – and intrigued – by the sounds that captured Tree’s attention as a teen once upon a time. We talked about that, the new album, the hustle of freelance, nostalgia, and more!
Kendra: Tree, you started working on writing and music back when you were in college. Was that what you went away to school for initially or was music a passion you soon realized was quite possibly the next step in your life?
Tree Palmedo: I’ve actually been playing and writing music even longer than that–I started piano in 2nd grade, trumpet in 4th, and was in choir in high school. I had a longtime dream of being a jazz musician starting when I was about 12, but it wasn’t until college (and a couple of heartbreaks) that I began to write more nakedly emotional music in the vein of the singer-songwriters I’d been listening to forever. That was also the first time I made my voice the center of the music, which still feels like a new thing as someone who primarily focused on trumpet for a long time.
Kendra: Eventually you made your way to Brooklyn, a place now known for being a creative hotspot. Do you feel that one’s environment can make or break their artistic expression?
Tree Palmedo: I certainly believe that. New York is an endlessly inspiring place, but it can also feel competitive and exhausting, and sometimes I do think about moving out to the country to isolate and tune out other voices. At its best, Brooklyn is a place full of musicians and artists who are looking after each other and trying to uplift the whole community, which is essential as art-making becomes a more and more financially challenging thing to prioritize.
Kendra: Once there you were doing the freelance hustle in jazz. Is that how you eventually found your way to the lovely four that round out Peaceful Faces?
Tree Palmedo: Most of the band are buddies from school, and we all relocated to NYC around the same time. But more and more of the people who have been involved in the project are folks I’ve met at shows, on recording sessions, or even in unlikely settings such as wedding gigs.
Kendra: So let’s talk about ‘Sifting Through The Goo, Reaching For The Candlelight.’ First off, were you ever an emo kid…because that title is giving me big Fall Out Boy vibes? Secondly, when it comes to this album, what do you hope is the lasting impression it leaves on listeners?
Tree Palmedo: Weirdly, the whole emo/pop-punk thing sort of passed me by because I was deeply obsessed with jazz and hip-hop in middle school. But many of my influences and favorites are artists I consider “emo-adjacent,” like Elliott Smith. I certainly want to take listeners on an emotional journey with the record; it feels like a document of the last ten years of my early adulthood. What I particularly hope is that listeners will let the music — the arrangements, textures, and harmony — take them on this emotional journey just as deeply or even more so than the lyrics.
Kendra: I say that because the album is riddled with nostalgia, especially in songs like “Signature Blues.” In this, you dive into this idea of looking at someone’s present and how good they’re doing without you. I relate to this, not on a romantic level but friendships. I’m that friend who is always on the struggle bus…meanwhile all my friends have legit careers, and I often yearn for the days when we were all figuring it out in our 20s. Do you think people who’ve “made it” ever look back and get nostalgic, or is it just those who’ve yet to find what they’re meant to do in the present?
Tree Palmedo: I think anyone who has committed to a freelance or creative career feels that sense of nostalgia as their peers choose job security and family and the like. I certainly feel that way from time to time, even though my friends who have chosen other paths express their own nostalgia about the art-making they gave up. I can only speculate about folks who have truly ‘made it,’ whatever that means, but I’m sure there’s a certain kind of pressure that comes with that level of success.
Kendra: Time for a side note – We’d love to know when you perform, do you have any sort of lucky charms you take with you on stage, or do you have any sort of pre-show traditions you do to ensure you have a great show?
Tree Palmedo: As someone who makes singing and trumpet playing integral parts of the live show, I get pretty particular about warming up in a very specific way a certain amount of time before the show. And I like to share a moment with the band before going onstage just to make sure we’re feeling connected. But I don’t have anything more specific than that. I guess the trumpet feels like a lucky charm that I get to hold for the whole set–it’s my security blanket.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Sifting Through The Goo, Reaching For The Candlelight’ out on March 10th, what else can the world expect as we focus on spring and soon enough, summer?
Tree Palmedo: We’re still very much a New York band with most of our audience here, so we’re aiming to play as much as we can around the city throughout the Spring and Summer to keep getting the word out. Our record release show on March 16 at C’mon Everybody in Brooklyn should be a particularly fun time! I am also very active with many other bands and projects that keep me pretty busy. But another big aim of mine in the coming months is to finish a whole other album’s worth of songs that have been sitting around in partial completion–hopefully, the world will hear them before too long.