Erica Dunn is a name that many Melbourne musicians know well. A regular face on local stages and a familiar voice on radio station PBS FM, Palm Springs is yet another enterprise from Dunn, and one she credits to being the place where she has most creative control.
“Palm Springs is the only band I play in where I write all the songs, a place to put all my ideas about the apocalypse; books I’ve been reading, daydreams I’ve had.”
Which in itself is a thorough demonstration of Dunn’s greatness, but also her genuine nature and humility. So too is the tongue-in-cheek origins of the band’s name.
“I am afflicted with clammy hands. I had to explain this quite a lot when I was playing shows in the States last year — a girl from Melbourne calling herself Palm Springs. I guess it would have been like someone from the States coming over here calling themselves Gold Coast. Anyway, it’s a sort of dumb joke but it stuck.”
Dunn is a stand out vocalist in Melbourne band Harmony, and it is here with Palm Springs that we again witness the smoky-raw emotion of her voice but also her lyrics, stripped back to the bare accompaniment of guitar and drums.
“I’m lucky enough to have Raquel Solier on the tubs and I’m left with the job of all the other yelling, shredding bits. I used to live with Raquel and on the day she was about to sell her kit (to make room in our tiny house) I somehow convinced her/ begged her to play some shows with me. She’d most likely been hearing me practicing some early songs and maybe felt like I could use some help!”
Self described as rhythm and blues, Palm Springs perfects the difficult task of singing about love and loss, yet sounding hopeful. Debut track Winning & Losing, a universal song about heartache and personal reflection, expels poetic wisdom yet also produces the desire to fling open your windows to the day or drive one-hand-on-the-steering-wheel into the sunset. It is both tragedy and hope, inspiring the act of turning experience into song. In short, it’s very good stuff. So what is new for Palm Springs?
“We are very excited to be releasing two sister 7”s. There is an A/B on each seven and you can download three additional songs — ten songs over two seven inches. All the songs came from one recording session at Melbourne recording studio Head Gap last year but the songs are from two very different periods of time. We felt it was more fun to group them together in a different way rather than trying to force them to fit all together on one tracklisting. It’s actually going to be a co-release, [Melbourne label] Rice is Nice has generously offered to help with distribution and I’m also going to be putting out my first Palm Springsteen Records release. What a world!”
Sometimes bordering on the country music side of rhythm and blues yet always aiming straight for the heart, Palm Springs have had some pearly moments since their 2012 beginning.
“One particularly golden moment for the Springs was when former member Adam Sherry played his last show (he has gone on to kick goals with his band A Dead Forest Index in the U.K). We played a show at the Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine. It was stinking hot and we had a ripping show and then broke in to the caravan park pool with some cheeky local tiprats. It was an ethereal night. Playing shows in the States was also surreal. Playing solo lends itself to getting involved in some really interesting lineups. I played a great show with this experimental harp player in Brooklyn and then in the Lower East side I was playing and alt-country legend Catherine Irwin from Freakwater rolls in and played too. Only in the big apple! I was lugging my guitar on the subways from gig to gig with a grin on my face the whole time!”