16th Annual Artist Survey: Palehound | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, October 18th, 2019  

16th Annual Artist Survey: Palehound

Ellen Kempner on #MeToo, The Muppets, Flossing, Childhood Birthday Parties, Family Vacations, Meeting Liz Phair, and Spider-Man

Jan 25, 2019 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Ellen Kempner of Palehound.

Palehound started as a solo project for Kempner, who grew up in Connecticut, but her backing band also features drummer Jesse Weiss and bassist Larz Brogan. Palehound's sophomore album, A Place I'll Always Go, came out in 2017 via Polyvinyl.

For our annual Artist Survey we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

Top 10 Albums of 2018

1. Tierra Whack: Whack WorldThis is the most creative album I heard this year and it was the only thing I could listen to for weeks. Also, the album's music video is by far the best video of this year, imo.

2. Mitski: Be the CowboyWe toured with Mitski in small clubs in 2015 and now she's selling out entire tours in huge venues!! She's been such an amazing friend and inspiration to me and this album blew everything away.

3. Noname: Room 25I was obsessed with Noname's first album and couldn't see how it was possible to write an even better album but somehow she did it and it's so insanely good.

4. Ovlov: TRUI've loved this band for so long and Steve can do no wrong in my eyes and this album tore me apart.

5. Kali Uchis: IsolationI usually feel really uncomfortable about dancing but this album makes me DANCE.

6. Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really FeelWe had the privilege of playing with CB and her incredible band a few times on their tour for this album and seeing it live made me fall even more in love with it than I was before.

7. Frankie Cosmos: VesselI love Greta's songwriting so much and I love Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez's recording of these songs and the combo is just really special.

8. Ariana Grande: SweetenerHit City, USA.

9. Ava Luna: Moon 2Everything they do makes me fall to my knees they are heroic.

10. Puppy Problems: Sunday FeelingMy friend Sami put out a really amazing collection of songs that deserves to be heard by the whole world.

What was the highlight of 2018 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Highlight of 2018 and possibly of all time for us was having the opportunity to record an album in California with our friend and genius Gabe Wax. Low point for us was we got in a scary car accident halfway across the country in 0 degree weather at 1 a.m.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. midterm elections have played out? What do you think the results mean for the Democrats' chances of taking back the White House in 2020?

Obviously the perfect outcome for the midterm elections would have been Trump and Pence both dying on election day but what happened was good enough for me and at least gives me a glimmer of hope in this grey and dismal time.

Despite compelling testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and sexual assault allegations from other women, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in a Supreme Court Justice and many Republican women didn't believe Ford's story. What does this tell you about the general state of the #MeToo movement in 2018?

Everything is fucked. Brett Kavanaugh should burn in hell and so should every sexual abuser but instead they're all being promoted. The state of the #MeToo movement is a state of panic.

A year after the #MeToo movement, do you feel things gotten better or worse in terms of issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and misogyny in the music industry?

I don't think anything's gotten better or worse. With every callout post is a think piece about why we should forgive these pieces of shit men who are hurting people.

Be honest, did you Floss in 2018? (Meaning the dance craze, not the dental care.)

I am shockingly okay at that dance.

Which Muppets character are you most like and why?

Miss Piggy because I'm fat and beautiful and have a loving partner.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tragically took his own life this year. What should be done to improve mental health conditions for musicians?

Paying artists for their work so they can afford therapists would be a good start.

In 2018 there were more dire predictions about climate change and we witnessed some of its likely effects firsthand with various deadly storms and forest fires. What should touring musicians be doing to better offset their carbon footprint? How bad do you think it needs to get for governments and corporations to take stronger actions to fight climate change?

Every touring musician should have a reusable water bottle so they're not buying one at every gas station.

Are you ready for artificial intelligence and a more automated future? Some predict that it may come sooner than we think and will lead to massive job losses.

Fuck that. No, that's scary to me.

What's your favorite birthday party memory from childhood?

My parents had an ice cream truck come to my house once and I got a Candy Center Crunch which is the best ice cream because there's a whole chocolate bar in there!

What was your favorite family vacation as a kid? What was your least favorite?

Favorite was we went to Italy and ate the best food I've ever had in my life. Least favorite was we went to Boston and then my parents got divorced, lol. Now I live in Boston, which is weird.

What's been your most surreal experience in the music industry?

Meeting Liz Phair and Kim Deal (not in the same place or else I wouldn't probably blacked out).

When you die, do you think you're going to the Good Place or the Bad Place?

I'm so gay so probably the "Bad" Place.

Beloved chef, travel TV host, and music fan Anthony Bourdain died this year. If you could have appeared on his Parts Unknown show, which city or country would you most have wanted to travel to with him?

Greece!!! I'm Greek and it's always been my dream to go and have all of my favorite foods.

Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee also passed away this year. Which of his characters (Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, etc.) meant the most to you/did you most identify with?

I think Spider-Man is the best shit even though I ran out of the theater screaming when I was a little kid cuz of the Green Goblin.

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