Music / November 25, 2022

Mount Palomar on the turbulent journey that spawned ‘Brace For Impact’

Mount Palomar via Artist
Music / November 25, 2022

Mount Palomar on the turbulent journey that spawned ‘Brace For Impact’

Words: Dylan Murphy

Following the release of his emotionally-charged Brace For Impact EP and accompanying exhibition in The National, Belfast, Mount Palomar talked to District about the foundation of the project and his plans for the future.

At the start of the month, we teamed up with Neil Kerr aka Mount Palomar for an event in Belfast. As part of his residency in The National, Neil curated Brace For Impact, an exhibition of works from himself and five other artists that helped extend the world of his eponymous EP. It continues his rich history of art curation which has seen him work with Banksy and Conor Harrington while his forthcoming headliner in Ulster Sports Club comes after performances in Berlin’s legendary club, Berghain.

A creative multi-hypenate with ambitious plans for the future, Neil talked to District about the turbulent journey that inspired his latest work.

Brace For Impact, Belfast

What inspired the EP?
The EP changed quite a bit over the course of the pandemic, which is when it was all written, aside from ‘Pale Blue Dot‘, which I wrote for my AVA Boiler Room set. Initially, I felt almost obliged to write a “club” EP, given that my first two releases were more experimental and I didn’t want to repeat myself in terms of long song structures. However, when the pandemic hit and I faced the very real prospect of being made homeless due to a shock eviction by my greedy landlord, my head was all over the place and I couldn’t really focus creatively. The EP track listing went through many iterations and it was only really when I reached out to Joshua Burnside to do a vocal feature, that suddenly I could see what form the
EP should take.

I binned a couple of songs and wrote ‘Cabin Fever‘ as a bridge between the raucous ‘Echo Chamber‘ and more introverted ‘Simmer‘. Given that it was written during such a tumultuous time, I am pleased that the EP sounds cohesive and it feels like something worthwhile came out of all that stress.

How did the exhibition tie in with the record ?
The Brace For Impact exhibition has its roots very much in grief, loss and the shattering of a belief in fate. In many respects it’s the beginning of a much larger body of work that I have been working towards since the loss of my brother, Conor. That sense of longing for what used to be is evident throughout my work and I can hear it in this new musical work as well. ‘Pale Blue Dot‘ is in reference to Conor, who was fascinated by the sciences and the last book that he was reading, still with his bookmark in it, was a book by Pale Blue Dot author, Carl Sagan. That astronomical imagery was always going to feature heavily in the show as Mount Palomar, as a concept, stems from Conor’s love of astronomy. Partnered with some religious iconography and a short poem that I wrote in the days leading up the exhibition, there is a close tie between the artworks on the walls and the intent behind the new tracks. 

Mount Palomar

What can we expect in the future?
2023 is going to be a really exciting year. I am collaborating with a number of artists, some of whom I can’t mention just yet but Hammer and I will finish off the EP that we began mid-pandemic, I am due to collab with Dublin-based indie band Sprints on a Krautrock meets Kraftwerk type track in the new year and I am sure Mr Burnside and myself with reconvene to work on some new material in the new year. Next year, I am also working with a number of Ireland’s most talented orchestral musicians on a new body of work that will be something very special. That project has been a long time coming and, after 20 years, I have finally found a world-class cellist to play my Tuvan and Mongolian horse-headed fiddles! Sounds daft but it’ll be class.

Finally, I will also finish off the video project I am working on with London based dancer, Salome Pressac. It has become a passion project of mine and I am really proud of what the two of us have achieved here in Belfast, in London and in New York, on a shoestring budget. It feels so satisfying to finally bring all my different creative disciplines to an artistic career path that I absolutely believe in.

Mount Palomar performs live on Saturday 26 November in Ulster Sports Club. Click here to purchase.

Listen to Brace For Impact below:

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