Words by Tommy Johnson
There’s something enigmatic about Vancouver’s Palm Haze, and it’s undeniably beautiful. Initially started in Ilhabela, Brazil, the duo of vocalist/bassist Anna Wagner and guitarist/producer Lucas Inacio bring together alternative rock, shoegaze, and trip-hop influences that flourishes with ease in their songs. In their minds, they play fuzzed-out guitars and sing soothing vocals all while under a palm tree shadow.
In 2017, Palm Haze self-produced their debut EP Tangy Dreams and instantly won the hearts of many. With the recognition came opportunities such as a huge run of shows, sharing the stage with Exploded View, Shadowhouse and The Macks. Palm Haze also had the privilege of performing in their hometown of Brazil, a highlight in the duo’s brooding career.
Rêve Bleu carries forward what Palm Haze created with Tangy Dream. With a similar energy curve, the band elevates higher than ever before. Motivated primarily from the chaotic personal lives of Wagner and Inacio in 2018, the album has been described as “another story told by the unconscious.”
Off Shelf: What were some of the bands that resonated with you two and ultimately directed to play music?
Lucas Inacio: I’d say the ones who most directed us both to play music were Sonic Youth, Interpol, Portishead, My Bloody Valentine, Air, and Tame Impala.
OS: I have seen a run of folks linking your sound to the likes of prominent shoegaze-heavy bands like My Bloody Valentine. That’s some high praise!
LI: For sure!
OS: How did you two come to meet each other?
LI: It happened around ten years ago. For some reason that I’m not sure I had Anna added on my MSN [Messenger], and she had the beginning of the lyrics from Metric’s song “Help I’m Alive” on her status. I saw that, and I just sent her a message continuing the lyrics with “My heart keeps beating like a hammer” and then we started talking to each other. I guess we never stopped since that!
OS: The story of how Palm Haze is you two were hanging around in a beach house in Ilhabela. Was there any talk about teaming up before the improved jam that sparked you two to record the track?
LI: Yes, I guess we talked a bit, we were already both studying music theory at that time, and I knew I wanted to start a project and she was into the idea too. The moment in Ilhabela was the catalyst for it. It was the first time we actually made a song together, and it happened totally spontaneously; we weren’t even trying to make a song, and we barely knew how to make songs, to be honest. I just had picked the acoustic guitar and started playing two chords back and forth, and Anna started singing.
OS: Brazil and Vancouver feel like two opposite worlds. I can imagine the adjustment must have been difficult. Was it so?
LI: Definitely. I imagine any move between countries is always difficult. There are just so many things that you need to learn and adapt. However, in our case, I guess we both always wanted to move to a foreign country, so we were still very open and determined to do so. Canada is also a great and welcoming country, which just helped in us going through all the difficulties of moving and living abroad.
OS: What would say has been the best result coming from the move?
LI: I think Palm Haze was one of the best results of the move; we literally only made two songs before coming to Vancouver, so all the other songs and all the things that happened with the band, only happened here. And knowing how tricky it is to be a musician and have a band in Brazil, I would definitely link the growth and the establishment of our band to our own settlement in Vancouver. It’s so linked that Tangy Dream was originally the final project on the music production course I did here in Vancouver at Langara College; which was one of the reasons to come here in the first place.
OS: The debut EP has been adored by many around the world. Was there any sort of anxiousness and fear to disappoint when you started putting Rêve Bleu together?
LI: Not exactly fear to disappoint, I don’t have many expectations when it comes to art, but I personally was very happy with Tangy Dream, so I guess I set my own bar high with that release and for Rêve Bleu. I wanted to create something at least as good as Tangy Dream. To me, those albums are connected to each other in a way. I feel like all our music tends to be connected and follow the timeline of what’s going on with us. The next release will probably start where Rêve Bleu ends.
OS: What was the mindset behind the lyrics with Rêve Bleu? Did you want to explore different influence and subject matter from the debut?
LI: I feel like the lyrics on Rêve Bleu are more related to desires, frustrations, and acceptance. Kind of a deeper plunge into the unconsciousness. That’s also why it’s more chaotic and maybe even philosophic. Rêve Bleu can feel more like a winter nightmare while Tangy Dream is an end of summer nostalgia.
OS: One thing I caught on listening to Rêve Bleu is chaos and serenity continually crashing into one another far more than the debut. It made the listening experience all the more fun. What made you two go in this direction?
LI: We never aim much to go for a specific direction. I kind of had a small idea of making it more of a “winter” album at the beginning, I guess I got inspired after experiencing some Canadian winters for the first time, even though Vancouver winters are not even close to what the rest of Canada experiences… for us they’re pretty cold and dark already! [laughs] But I think the chaos came more from our personal lives, as a reflection of the moods we were in when making those songs.
OS: I saw that Rêve Bleu took a little longer than you anticipated it to. Is releasing music as fast as possible something that you want to explore more?
LI: We both like to take our time with our music, but at the same time I think our approach is different when it comes to finishing songs. We like raw songs, we like raw takes, and we’re not perfectionists in that aspect. We tend to accept what we make without much judgment as if each song was a page or chapter of our lives. I think that makes us make songs at a good pace. I know some artists like to write 100 songs and pick 10 to make an album. We like to pick all the songs we write and try to work with almost every single one. Like, now that we finished this album, we already have some other songs that we made this year that we probably will work on soon.
OS: What would you say has been the most crucial thing you two have learned since pairing up together?
LI: Working together with another person can always be tough at some points, and I think that’s the most important thing we learned with each other, especially since we’re both strong-minded persons.