Mesadorm‘s emotive and skilled melding of the pastoral and synthetic is the result of a unique combination of experienced musicianship, diverse cultural tastes and the strong bonds of friendship, with songwriting firmly aimed at the space between the piercing domestic observations of Suzanne Vega and the elemental other-worldiness of Bjork, drawing on contemporary influences including Caribou, Grizzly Bear and Sylvan Esso as well as legendary female luminaries like Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush. Tom Tom caught up with drummer Daisy Palmer to talk about her own inspirations and Mesadorm’s upcoming album, Epicadus.
Aside from the emotional heft of Mesadorm’s music, the pedigree of its members is also not to be underestimated. Between them, Mesadorm’s members have played with Paloma Faith, Goldfrapp, Rae Morris, Frank Turner, The Unthanks, The Magnetic North, toured with London Grammar and fronted major-label signing Vaults as well as singing on John Lewis’ 2016 Christmas Ad. But whilst Mesadorm is a band founded on a history of professional musicianship and successes, it is now propelled forward by a renewed passion for creative endeavor and ambitious expression.
On March 29th, their new single, “When She’s In That Mood,” will be released digitally by Babylegs Records.
“Mesadorm have that uncanny ability to find that perfect line between pop and experimentation. They achieve a rare and colorful psychedelic minimalism that is strikingly engaging.” – Folk Radio UK
[Tom Tom ] So, can you start by telling us a bit about yourself? How did you become interested in music and what inspired you to become a drummer?
My sisters and I were encouraged to get into music by our father who is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. I picked up the trumpet at age 7, joined the local Concert Band and asked to move to the percussion section because it looked awesome! I then started playing in the Kingston Youth Big Band and fell in love with the old time swing style, my earliest inspirations being Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.
[Daisy Palmer] Has the perception around being a “female drummer” changed at all since you began to play?
I think that people accept it as more ‘normal’ these days but society still seems to find it difficult not to include the ‘female’ bit. We need to get the point where people are saying ‘great drummer’ rather than ‘great female drummer’. Equality is the one and it shouldn’t matter about gender, a good musician is a good musician.
What is your favorite piece of gear?
That would be my Ludwig Supraphonic 402 from 1978. Best snare ever.
How was performing at the UK Drum Show in 2018? How did you prepare?
The UK Drum Show came at the end of a long summer with Paloma Faith so I was ready with those bangers! That said though, performing at a clinic is a very different experience from playing with a band (it’s rather isolating!), but I do find it rewarding once I start to communicate with the audience.
Your band Mesadorm’s new album, Epicadus, is due out on April 19th – congratulations! First off, what does it mean? How did you choose the title?
Epicadus is the genus of the word Heterogaster, the title of our debut album. Both records include different versions of the same songs – Epicadus features the acoustic versions that were conceived before the electronic sound-scapes came about on Heterogaster – so it’s almost like a prequel. The full term Epicadus-Heterogaster is the name of a spider that has the appearance of an orchid, attracting it’s prey and then devouring it, which we thought was a great analogy to our complex romantic relationships as humans, a theme explored thorough-out both records.
What can fans expect from this record? Was the shaping or recording of it different from Heterogaster?
We recorded Epicadus live in Eype church over 2 days whereas Heterogaster was recorded over a period of 2 years at our guitarist’s house, then in post-production for another year.….so yes, the polar opposite process! Fans can expect familiar and new compositions re-imagined for a delightful acoustic.
Do you have any warm-up rituals or habits that you adhere to, in order to get “in the zone” before a show?
We are all singers in Mesadorm so we like to spend around 30 minutes warming up together. This makes us feel connected to each other physically and emotionally. Also a shot of tequila is good.
Tom Tom is turning ten this year. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself ten years ago?
Yay Happy Birthday Tom Tom, that’s a triumph! I’ve not learnt much to be honest (Jokez!) aside from that it’s important to start your own fire, play music with people you love and be true to yourself artistically. Since I founded the label (Babylegs Records) and began managing Mesadorm in mid 2017, good things have come to me and I feel 100% more fulfilled professionally.
Your sound has been described as “pastoral and synthetic.” Can you expound a bit on what that melding means?
Mesadorm was conceived as a project concerned with fusing acoustic (The Pastoral) and electronic (The Synthetic) timbres in an effort to serve each song appropriately. Above all however, the use of acoustic instruments (Piano, Cello and Drums/percussion), in conjunction with analogue Synths and Electric Guitars brought us so much happiness when constructing the landscapes for Heterogaster, we couldn’t stop doing it! Moving into the next album (which we are writing now) we will continue to work within this sound-world.
Mesadorm’s music videos are visually rich and provocative, especially “Yours and Not Yours.” How do the stories come together to match visuals to the music?
The music videos were made in collaboration with director Tom Jacob, an old friend of the band who works closely with our singer Blythe Pepino on the narrative and feel of each video. Yours and Not Yours is a ‘kitchen sink’ drama featuring a woman’s ‘relationship’ with her male sex doll. The song explicitly refers to Blythe’s experiences signed to a major record label – finding that she wasn’t being true to herself as an artist, but still having to conform to pop sensibilities. The sex doll represents the result of consumerism (the parasitic music industry), whereas the woman encapsulates the proletariat – being drawn to the capitalist system and sub-consciously committing to it, to the detriment of her mental health.
There’s also a tour documentary coming soon; can you give us some details about it?
Yes we are excited to share this film! Also directed by Tom Jacob, who was with us for the Heterogaster tour last May, the documentary features a portrait of each band member, enhanced with beautifully shot live footage. It’s totally surreal and unlike any other documentary certainly I’ve ever seen, which is why we wanted to release it. It will be out on 12th April.
Any upcoming drum clinics or show information you’d like to share with us?
15th April – Water Bear College, Brighton
16th April – BIMM London
17th April – BIMM Manchester
18th April – Jopson Music Academy, Preston
24th April – The Forge, Bristol
25th April – The Barrelhouse, Totnes
26th April – The Rose Hill Tavern, Brighton
27th April – St Mary’s Music Hall, London
28th April – Cobolt Studios, Newcastle
29th April – Hug & Pint, Glasgow
30th April – Secret Location, Edinburgh
1st May – Burton Arms, Manchester
11th May – Rodborough Church, Stroud
25th May – Kino, St Leonards, Hastings
26th May – Poltimore Festival, Exeter