Amelia’s Magazine | Palm Ghosts: an interview with Joseph Lekkas

Palm Ghosts - Canaries In The Mine
Palm Ghosts – Canaries In The Mine, by Carly Watts.

Pennsylvania’s Joseph Lekkas makes ‘sun-damaged American music’ in his new guise as Palm Ghosts. His first self-titled album as Palm Ghosts is a beautiful collection of songs inspired by an intense period of depression after the dissolution of his previous band, Grammar Debate. ‘For the better part of three years he lived with daily anxieties, a prisoner to a constant sense of fight or flight. Through the help of close friends and family, he was able to regain his joy for living. He found that translating his thoughts and feelings into song was not only therapeutic, but necessary.

Why did Palm Ghosts come into existence?
Palm Ghosts is a product of sketching song ideas in my studio. I would come up with an idea, have Walt play drums on the song and I’d build from there. Walt and I have been playing together since we’ve been teens. If there is an idea I can’t execute, I call on one of my many talented friends to play. I’ve always played in bands where ideas are hashed out in a rehearsal room. I wanted to try to build song ideas in the recording studio instead.

The material on this record was born out of a major depression and crippling anxiety I was experiencing. I truly felt as though I was dying. It took my a good two years to snap out of it and this record was the exorcising of those demons, if you will.

The name Palm Ghosts comes from the idea that darkness can be found in broad daylight. I always liked that kind of duality. You know, sad songs with major chords, danger lurking beneath the blue skies. ghosts haunting the whitewashed beaches and palm trees of coastal towns and resorts.

Palm Ghosts
What are the most common ghosts of seaside towns?
I assume the wives of lost sailors waiting for their husbands to return from sea. Drunken pirates in the gas lamp lit corners of ancient taverns. The restless children of coastal innkeepers. There is an old victorian town near where I grew up in New Jersey called Cape May. That town is haunted by everything from phantom cats to historical figures. You can feel it when you visit, the energy is palpable.

Who is the girl in the video for Seasons?
The girl is a good friend of mine, Lisa. She is a dance teacher from New Jersey. She has a very 60s style sense about her and I wanted the video to feel like a bit of Breathless mixed with a Georgy Girl vibe. I often live in the past, music-wise. I feel that most of the best music and style came out of the 1960s. Especially from London. English music is my favorite of all time.

What is the story behind this song?
This song tells the story of a person who has essentially given up on life, but then finds a reason to live through a short and intense relationship. The writer compares the short, ecstatic bliss of summer to the fleeting nature of this love affair and autumn time to its dissolution. Relationships and life itself are often compared to Seasons. You know, the springtime of youth to the fading summer of growing old. I always liked to compare weather to points in our life’s chronology. Everything is a cycle.

Seasons Single Cover palm ghosts
How do you make music?
I usually write songs alone, build the song structure with the drummer and then lock myself in the studio for hours, days, weeks or months (whatever it takes) until the song is finished. Sometimes I feel like I can’t relate to the rest of the world after long periods of creativity. It’s like spending 3 days indoors with a flu and then being thrust out into the busy city streets. Very surreal. I wouldn’t change it for the world, though. I’ve already realized that if I don’t create I am a nervous wreck. It’s as potent as an antidepressant drug for me.

Where can we see you play live in the UK?
We have no current plans to play the UK, but hoping that changes sooner than later. I was in London once years ago and absolutely loved it. I love the music and the people. I feel like everything I write musically has some kind of base in English music. It is all I listened to for years. From The Beatles and The Kinks to Suede and Blur. The Smiths, New Order. I love it all. On and on down the line. Hello, UK promoters- Book Palm Ghosts!

Palm Ghosts by Palm Ghosts is out now.

Categories ,Cape May, ,Carly Watts, ,Grammar Debate, ,interview, ,Joseph Lekkas, ,Palm Ghosts, ,Pennsylvania, ,Seasons

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