Indie rocker Palehound makes sharing intimate emotions look easy.
Ellen Kempner started writing music as Palehound during her angsty teen years as a form of therapy and a way to work through her issues. She never thought people would actually listen. Today, she has three albums and an EP under her belt and music fans around the world have embraced her sound. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the vulnerability she spotlights in her music.
Kempner tells BTRtoday that throughout her life, she’s only related to songs that bring out her emotions and she’s incorporated that into her own music. “That’s kind of always been my game with music and I feel like that’s kind of the goal I have when I’m writing,” she says.
Each of Kempner’s albums have helped her through difficult times. A Place I’ll Always Go from 2017 was about the death of a close friend and her latest release Black Friday deals with her body issues. She says it’s scary getting on stage and presenting her heart to a crowd of strangers, unsure of how they will react. However, she does it because it also feels very rewarding. On her current tour with Big Thief performing Black Friday has proved tricky for her, since these songs are the first time she’s sharing with the world her lifelong love/hate struggle with her body.
“With this new material that we haven’t toured on yet [it’s] definitely reopening that wound a little bit,” she says. “Even just releasing the music brings it all up.”
In Black Friday both the lyrics and melodies ooze with emotion. The guitar strums are kept slow and intricate, overlaid with melancholy violins and drum beats steadier than a surgeon’s hand. Kempner’s sweet vocals are kept to a near whisper. Each song feels like a secret shared only with you.
Kempner has big plans brewing for the near feature that she can’t quite announce yet. But keep an eye out for lots of new music and tour dates. Plus, catch her with Big Thief this fall for the most epic indie rock show this year. In the meantime, listen to the entire interview with Palehound and Black Friday on this week’s The Music Meetup.