London-born Benjy Keating worked behind the scenes on his sound for years before releasing PAGAN, his 2016 debut as Palmistry. His is music that requires distillation: minimal, evaporated dancehall, boiled down to compressed beats and a cooed, spare lyrics. He resists the dancehall comparisons in interviews—"Dancehall's so pure as it is," he told The Fader, "it doesn't need me to add anything to it"—but his primary influences are clearly discernable. He's signed to Brooklyn independent Mixpak, a modern dancehall bastion that holds Vybz Kartel and Popcaan on its roster. Keating's refinement period was an attempt to find his own hushed and unassuming voice in a world of exuberant maximalism.
Palmistry's new video for PAGAN standout "Lifted," premiering on Noisey today, is a slow-panning, neon-lit encapsulation of everything Keating captures with his work. Shot in Tokyo and directed by Daniel Swan (RL Grime, SBTRKT, Django Django), it has a video game sheen to it, drawing an eerie quiet from the bustle of the city, just as Keating does on the record. The video comes alongside the news that PAGAN will be reissued today in partnership with Big Beat.
We emailed Keating to ask a few questions about PAGAN and the making of the "Lifted" video. Read his responses below and watch the video at the top of the page.
Noisey: You spent a lot of time working on the album. How has taking it out on the road changed the songs?
Benjy Keating: I actually wrote that album pretty quickly, couple of weeks , but yeah I took some time trying to mix it myself etc. That's definitely one of the reasons it's super minimal. I sing the songs differently live there's different melodies in the vocals which I find more interesting.
Do you absorb more music and influences while you're traveling? Is it helpful as an artist?
No not really. It's more of a time when you shutdown and its harder to absorb things. Maybe it depends where you're at with everything in your life.
Has it been a challenge to get the songs across in bigger rooms with bigger crowds?
Nah it's been a proper doss [Ed note: this is an English word for thing that is very easy]. Backing tracks go pretty hard and a few venues were lock-off.
What was the making of the video like? What was the process?
My good friend Daniel Swan made the video. I've been kind of been on burnout the last five years, so I didn't have much input but decided it needed to be in Japan, mostly the countryside. Daniel did the rest. I make a few cameos in it but yeah, we shot it over a week. I tried to help a bit but mostly got in the way. I'm a bit of a nightmare to work with but Daniel came through with a real touch. Definitely best video for this project so far.
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