Palmistry on how his father’s death inspired ‘Afterlife’ and working with SOPHIE on Rihanna material

The Mixpak artist talks us through the Hennessey, DMT and bubbly-fuelled full-length...

21.05.19 Words by: Felicity Martin

For those interested in the forward-thinking production talent steering global music trends, Palmistry is someone who’ll be on your radar. The Ireland-born, London-based vocalist, songwriter and producer – real name Benjy Keating – has been crafting melancholic, gossamer-fine dancehall for some time, dropping his creations mainly via Mixpak. The result being that Palmistry has been called on for production by Yung Lean, as well as interpolated by Tory Lanez, Cashmere Cat and Major Lazer (on ‘Miss You’), while more recently crafting a full album for Vietnamese-Chinese artist Triad God.

Following a three-year hiatus, Palmistry has just returned with ‘Afterlife’, an album on the Dre Skull-founded label. The follow-up to 2016 debut ‘Pagan’, it was written between the heat of Athens and Brooklyn, looping in the likes of SOPHIE, Benny Blanco, Equiknoxx, Cashmere Cat and Mechatok, as well as Miami vocalist Toian and Ghanaian artist Klu. Blending his metallic pop sound with futurist production, the LP finds Palmistry’s songwriting bolder than ever while embracing giddy melodies. Following the release of ‘Afterlife’, we invited the talented artist to take us through each track, which you can listen to and read below.

‘Rovin’

“‘Rovin’ was a link-up with Timur [Tokdemir], aka Mechatok. I sent him a random thing I wrote in 2016 and he came back with some sub-organ chords, which sparked a new idea… badabingbadaboom, three years and 500 different versions later, it was out.”

‘Venom’

“From All Alathos days in Greece, Lefko Krasi, and long Somniums into madness.”

‘Tru Luv ft. Toain’

“Toian snapped on a ‘Paigon‘ remake, DMs led to a studio session of Hennessey and blasting music in NYC Mixpak studios. I made a connection with her and her bless writing partner Charli, from there we stayed in touch and when the time was right she jumped on ‘Tru Luv’ to make a dream come true on a duet. Production-wise, I had this song drafted and I tricked Benny Blanco in a session to thinking that I had just made this music on the spot on my laptop while he was on the phone. In reality, I’d made this in some weird coked-out Silverlake apartment while trying to duck sessions with Diplo ‘cuz I wasn’t feeling myself at the time. Benny added that bass, the rest is magic.”

‘Water’

“I flew out to London from NYC to work with SOPHIE on Rihanna material. I’m in Soph’s airbnb most of the time while she’s actually in the studio working with topliners and Riri and what-not. ‘Water’ was a little idea I wrote to show SOPHIE and she made the finished thing after a 12-hour studio session in maybe less than an hour which I kept for myself, obviously. We’ve known each other for years and don’t get to see each other much, but it’s always special and I love when we do.”

‘Sway’

“Logic open and press record, bottle of bubbly – boom.”

‘Peel and Slice’

“Ableton, recording, DMT – boom.”

‘Deet ft. Klu’

“I sent Jeff Eteronam aka Klu this track asking for a hook, he came back saying he don’t do hooks, but sent a folder full of the rarest hooks. This young G is a prolific genius. On a different plane to most artists.”

‘River’

“Suzhou River heartbreak.”

‘Vexed’

“A London studio session led to a divination process that took two years of stripping and a final Dre Skull midas touch to bring in a choral church to assist the acapella.”

‘Euphorion’

“Kingdoms of dreams and madness, LA time zone with Cashy (Cashmere Cat) and BB (Benny Blanco) on production. Blem 4 real.”

‘Afterlife (Last Breath)’

“I was 15 when I saw my father take his last breath. He lived a mad life – Ireland Borstal as a kid, to being one of London’s first registered heroin addicts, to full on born-again Christian after being saved in prison about my age now. In the year leading up to that, everything I knew in life and security fell apart from the family, it was like a peak Satoshi Kon nightmare, but music a bit later let me process those times into something meaningful for me. Everything turns to dust and I don’t think it matters if there’s an afterlife or not, but for me dreams and feelings out of time run deep in this life and this tune came from one of those feelings… and tryna bang a UKG riddim on the Prophet.”

Stream Palmistry’s ‘Afterlife’ in full: