Exitmusic are a band from New York City that played Iceland Airwaves last weekend. Centered around married couple Devon Church and Aleksa Palladino, they played concerts at Kex Hostel and Norðurljós in Harpa.
Braving the vicious wind, whipped up sea and frozen water features to get to Harpa, my efforts are rewarded. Exitmusic play delicious slices of dense, intense soundscapes, overlaid with the sweet, and occasionally husky voice of Aleksa. Starting with the luscious, and appropriately named ‘the sea,’ they deliver a enthralling set.
Earlier in the day, I met up with Aleksa and Devon in Harpa for a quick chat. I have to start with a quick apology; Aleksa is well known for playing Angela Darmody in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. I know that I’m bound to mistakenly mix my Angela’s and Aleksa’s at some point.
How would you describe your music?
Aleksa replies “Well, that’s difficult. I know what makes us different from other groups doing similar stuff; we are really into electronics, soundscapes and design, but there has to be a straight, solid song underneath it. Our goal is always to make something with substance.”
I think that they have certainly achieved that with their debut album Passage.
Why are you called ‘Exitmusic’? Is it after the Radiohead song?
Devon smirks as if he has heard this one before; “Well, we named it for a similar reason; the last piece of music in a film or performance. The idea came from watching a movie, and we saw it come up on the screen and thought it would be a cool name for a band.”
I ask whether working together is a problem when they are married a couple.
Its Aleksa’s turn to laugh “We are emotionally dead inside!” she jokes “They way I feel about it, I wouldn’t know how to do it if we were in separate bands, never seeing each other. Or one person is at home, whilst the other is on the road. That, to me, is hard. We are used to it.”
So how do you like Iceland Airwaves?
“We have seen some of the city, and it’s really cool. Last night we went out to see Shebazz Palaces, and we also saw Purity Ring. Last night we played Kex Hostel, which was really cool. It was live on the radio, with no sound check, which was pretty good,” Devon says.
Aleksa adds: “Live on radio is so much different to live in a venue, and I know my mum was listening, and I got so emotional. I nearly cried.”
What should we expect tonight?
“I don’t know. Iceland is a good place for us to play, especially with what’s come out of here. There’s always a few places that you always want to play. This is one of those places. We feel at home creatively,” Aleksa says.
What else do you want to see in Iceland?
“Well, I really want to see puffins,” Aleksa tells me.
Puffins? It’s the wrong time of year for puffins.
“I like their little bodies. There little bellies, with the legs sticking out? They are so cute.”
I don’t have the heart to point out that the only puffin likely to be found around here, in November, will be on a plate.