Palmyra is one of those bands you discover and can’t help but continue to come back to. They are not easily forgotten. They write lyrics that are poetic while being relatable – a duality that is not easy to accomplish.
The musicality of these three highly skilled instrumentalists – Teddy, Manoa, and Sasha – is strong and their energy is quirky, fun, and engaging. Lately, they’ve been touring all over the East Coast, recording, working with artists like Liv Greene and Jobi Riccio, who was previously featured on our column. If you can’t tell yet, the queer music industry is incredibly small and interconnected!
Palmyra uses their innovative songwriting and performance skills to transform traditional folk instruments and three-part harmonies into something you’ve never heard before. We hope you enjoy our Out Now interview featuring Palmyra.
(Editor’s Notes: Interview answers supplied by Sasha Them)
Who are your favorite LGBTQ+ artists and bands?
Among my absolute favorite things about our touring over the last few years are the moments that we get to share stages with other queer artists. Liv Greene is a personal favorite mine; all of their songs exist in their own world of brilliance and masterful craft. Brittany Ann Tranbaugh has songs that absolutely wreck me. Another artist that’s constantly on repeat in the van for us is Brennan Wedl! Their song “Bag of Bones” is one of the most incredible songs I have ever heard and turns me into a pulp every single time I revisit it.
For anyone reading this who might not be out of the closet, were there any specific people, musicians, or resources that helped you find yourself as a queer individual?
Yes! I am an out-and-proud queer person now, but it took quite a while to settle into the person I am today. There are so many artists that helped move the needle for me; particularly the abundance of queer and trans folks I connected with online during the lockdown. Backxwash is top of the list for me; she’s a killin’ rapper and producer based out of Canada and her music helped me to understand that as artists we can channel complicated emotions and inner turmoil to create something empowering and badass and beautiful.
What are your release and touring plans for the next year?
Touring has been our full time job for two-and-a-half years now, and we plan on continuing to hit the road in full force in 2024. Our hope is to branch out to some new regions and cities, and I am sure we’ll be visiting all of our favorite places along the East Coast, from Maine to Georgia. Now that I say that, I’m realizing that, as a band, we kind of follow the Appalachian Trail in our tour routing…
We’ve got two more singles coming out this year, and are planning on putting out a few projects in 2024. I am so excited to share the music we’ve been working on.
This year, you’ve been sharing stages with bands like Watchhouse, playing festivals, and touring all over the East Coast of the U.S. What has that been like for you?
This year has definitely been our wildest one yet. Some of the experiences we’ve had, like opening for Watchhouse, have been so surreal to me. It feels like the work we’ve been putting in for so long has started to pay off in very real ways. Getting to play Newport Folk Festival is one of the highest honors any of us have ever had and it is beyond cool to get to connect with folks all over just by doing the thing we all love most – playing and writing songs.
What does your songwriting process look like? You have incredibly strong lyrics that are both relatable and poetic. Do you map out the structure and content of the song first? Do you think about song structure and tools like prosody, lyrical placement, and rhyme types? Do you spend a lot of time editing?
The songwriting process looks pretty different for all three of us, but each song typically starts with one writer and then is brought to the group to arrange and flesh out. There’s a very special (and sometimes uncomfortable) moment that has to happen when one of us brings a song to the group; you have to be able to release ownership of the thing you’ve created so that it can become a collective version that everybody has had their hands on.
For me, I usually start with one line that comes to me when I’m away from any instruments – typically when I’m out driving or walking! I am very particular about what words feel good coming out of my mouth and what feels the most authentic to my own personhood. Prosody and internal rhyme schemes are almost always on my mind, especially when I’m reworking a tune. I love getting into the nitty gritty parts of a song, and I love the moment I am able to zoom out when a song is finished and take care to make sure everything fits together.
Photo Credit: Joey Wharton
Out Now is a partnership of Queerfest and BGS authored by Queerfest founder and director Sara Gougeon.