I first heard of the band Exitmusic when I was in Brooklyn for the Northside Festival a couple of weeks ago, and they blew me away with their expansive, breathtaking sound that sent chills down my spine. When I found out they were playing a show at Philadelphia’s Milkboy this week I was eager to see them again and sit down with the band for a quick interview.
Exitmusic consists of married couple Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church – and if Aleksa looks familiar to you, its probably from her role as Angela Darmody (the wife of Jimmy, Michael Pitt’s character) on Boardwalk Empire. In addition to her talent as an actress, she has one of the most heart wrenching, beautiful voices I’ve heard in quite some time and together with Church they create passionate, soaring music that stops you dead in your tracks. Read on for an interview with Exitmusic, and listen to their album Passage below!
If your music was a place where would it be?
Devon: I don’t think our music could be one of anything because I feel like there’s too much happening for it to be just one place.
Aleksa: But I do like the idea of it being a place…I feel like it would be in a cave.
How did the two of you meet?
On a train. When we were 18, in Canada…he’s Canadian, I was just traveling with my best friend after school. And we met, and hung out on the train for two days and just felt a familiarity with each other that we hadn’t felt with anybody else… so it stuck.
Is it ever difficult working together as a couple?
Devon: Sure but its also difficult to work with anybody.
Aleksa: Less difficult working with you. Less difficult than people would think.
Devon: I feel like we had our rough spots but that was several years ago now.
Aleksa: It was more writing…finding our own identities as a couple but as artists. But once you kinda get past that…we know how to give each other space, and we’ve been together for almost ten years so its gone through a lot of tests. I think for a new relationship it probably would be really trying, but at this point its sorta just what we do.
Did you always know that you would be musicians?
Aleksa: Yeah but I didn’t know that I would be playing it for people. I started writing music really young. I had a 4 track and I would record music, its pretty much all I did as a teenager. Record and write, record and write, but I was really shy with it and didn’t play it for friends even, it was just what I did, how I spent my time. I mean I really wanted to be playing it for people but I didn’t think I actually would be.
Devon: I definitely wanted to be a musician when I was younger, and then I wanted to be a writer…right before Aleksa and I got together I started playing again and then ever since then its just been something we’ve taken more and more seriously as the years go by.
Aleksa: Its weird though because I don’t think I’ll ever feel like a musician, I feel like a writer who writes with instruments and stuff. I’ve played guitar for way longer than I wanna say because I feel like I hit a ceiling with just how technically good I can be but I feel like I’m creative with it, and use it to say things more than to be good at it.
Devon: I think its more just knowing what – or not eve knowing what, just knowing that you have something to express and finding it through this medium even if you’re not a master of it. You figure out ways of making it speak for you.
So is it true you got your band name from the Radiohead song?
Devon: Not true.
Aleksa: It is a rumor that I feel like one person said and people caught on to it. It’s just the film term, it’s what the last piece of music is called in a film. And we were watching 2001 [A Space Oddity] one night and I fell asleep and at the end the title “exit music” comes up as the last piece of music comes on. And the next morning he was like what do you think of Exitmusic? When you’re thinking of band names its really hard …you find faults with everything. But that word to me meant this music of transition between one reality and the next and I really liked that for what we were doing. I really liked the space within those parentheses, that felt good for us.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Aleksa: Radiohead. Just kidding. I mean you can’t deny that they are one, but it’s all over the place for us.
Devon: The influences thing…we listen to so much music and it all influences us but I think our music is influenced just as much by non-musical things if not more.
Aleksa: for me anyway, there’s definite musicians that when I listen to and just feel where their stuff is coming from, you recognize it in yourself. There’s people I recognized myself in when I was younger and made me think ok I can do this, like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, what they needed to reveal or understand about themselves spoke more to me than stuff that was “cool” when I was a kid. But what influences your sound is totally different than what makes you want to write.
You’re an actress as well, which has been more rewarding or challenging for you?
They both are rewarding and challenging…film or TV is challenging because ultimately its not your vision, there’s a director and you’re sort of there to embody what they want to be saying. I like just being able to put forth something that’s really genuinely how I see myself, how I see the world. Especially being a woman, there’s still not a lot of roles or women being represented in the media. The majority of the work I’ve done has been written or directed by men. So being a woman, its definitely nice to create your own picture of what it is to be a woman, it’s not what a man thinks it is.
What are you doing the rest of the summer?
Devon: We tour the Midwest in July, play a festival there in Chicago. And I think in August we’re going to take the month off, maybe do some writing, maybe make another video. I think the fall is the time for us to come back strong and tour some more.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Aleksa: We don’t remember.
Devon: We’d like to take a week and go to a cabin by the lake or something, that would be nice.
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Photos by Julia.