In a year filled with turmoil and uncertainty, most music artists have had an abundance of time to reflect and create new music. The new single, What Have You Done To Me, from Windsor’s Christee Palace, is a raw and deeply personal song that’s a departure from her usual upbeat pop melodies. We talked about the new direction in her music and what she’s been up to since we last chatted.
How have you been coping this past year?
The same as everyone else, you have to adapt to what’s going on around you. Like everyone else, you have days where you can’t help but think negatively, think of all the things you’re missing out on, but at the end of the day it’s life, right? You have to roll with the punches and keep going.
You released a single last August.
Falling For You, I released that at the end of August and just like my previous single from last year I had decided that even though this was happening and things aren’t going to go quite as I planned I wanted to keep releasing music. That one especially was really cool because it was upbeat and fun and I think I needed that at the time.
You wrote that about the day you met your boyfriend!
Yeah, which is very interesting. The people that know my boyfriend and I, they know our story and the fact that when I first moved to Toronto he was my first photographer here. He did all my photo shoots and things just happened. It’s interesting now because he and I live together and even though we’re in quarantine and can’t create as much as we want to, I’m still able to put out content and do photo shoots and make music videos which is incredible. I owe all that to him, but that song was a dedication to him, a sort of thank you if you will because he does a lot for me and my career.
Your latest single, What Have You Done to Me, is starkly different from that.
Very different yes, and in the same light I think in the summer I needed a pick me up and at the end of 2020 I sort of decided I wanted to release this one because for me it was representative of the year as a whole. Although it has its own meaning in the way that I wrote it, I think the whole vibe of the song for me is just perfect. This is exactly how I felt the whole 2020. It had one meaning when I wrote it but it can be interpreted many different ways.
Art is interpretive, right?
That’s right, that’s the best part about it. I love that about writing songs and obviously for me it means one thing but to somebody else listening, it could mean something totally different and I love that about music.
I love it, it’s a very different song, and it’s very haunting.
Yeah, I love that word and I always come back to that because I remember when I first wrote it, I went to my producer and I said that exact word, I said I want this to sound haunting, like nightmarish, you know? I remember hearing it for the first time and I thought, it could not be more perfect. With the chord progression and the lyrics, the way that it all sort of married into each other, it’s awesome. I think he did such a good job of totally encapsulating what I felt.
Recently you said someone gave you the advice to chase what’s popular and mainstream. That sounds terribly disingenuous, what are your thoughts on that?
It’s so interesting because you come here and you meet people that are in the industry and you want to follow what they say, a little part of you does. I’ve always been the type to follow who I am and do what I feel is right and be authentic. There’s always people that come into your life that make you question yourself, especially in the music industry, and what I’ve come to learn, especially through this time we’re in now is that there really is no formula.
It’s just you being yourself and putting out your authentic music and if it hits and people like it then that’s great, but there’s no formula. Someone can tell you to make a song that sounds like this, or this isn’t upbeat enough or poppy enough or you’re not showing enough skin, and it’s all contradictory of what’s out there, it doesn’t make any sense.
I think no one actually knows what the right thing is so for me at this point so now I’m just doing what I want. I think at the end of the day I’ll be happy with myself because I’m making music that I love and means something to me. I truly think that will mean more to people who are listening to it.
I loved your Christmas covers. Your version of Rocking Around the Christmas Tree is one of my favourites now.
That makes me so happy, those songs were fun. It came at a time where I really didn’t have much going on and I had a conversation with my dad and I said, let’s make Christmas songs. Originally we were going to do one, then three and we ended up doing two.
I got a COVID test and made sure I was good to go and got together with my dad and we recorded them together which was awesome. I really needed that for myself, for my soul. I loved it, it was so cool to be able to create with him again and all those guitar riffs, that’s all my dad.
Your dad, Windsor’s Pete Palazzolo, is a great producer so I think he really brought a lot to that.
He’s pretty incredible and he’ll kill me for saying it but I wish he’d get more credit for the amount of talent he has, it’s insane. I’m just constantly in awe of him, he’s a producer, he’s a multi-instrumentalist and he can write. It’s inspiring to me; it fuels me and just makes me want to be better.
Do you think this could be an annual thing and eventually have a Christmas album?
I think so – why not, right? I love collaborating with him, that’s how I started with all of this before I even decided I wanted to do this as a career. I’ve recorded songs with my dad since I was ten, maybe even younger.
It’s a normal part of my life and I miss that now because I’m in Toronto and I don’t get to see him. I used to see him weekly and go to his studio and we’d collaborate on something or I would write and he would demo so I miss that. I hope we can keep it a regular thing for sure.
It would be great to see you at The S’Aints show as a guest in the future.
That would be incredible! They had my dad perform a couple years ago and it’s just so fun, I would love that! Jeff Burrows is such a huge supporter of me and my whole family as well. I have so much respect for him and what he does and Marty Bak who’s also with the S’Aints; he was one of my first producers.
We have a very supportive music community in Windsor, don’t we?
Yeah, we do. I’m very lucky to have started out there. I don’t think I would be where I am now without the support in Windsor. There are so many people that gave me opportunities and helped me out, let me play at their venues. Even when I was just getting started and still pretty green, so many people gave me a chance and I’ll never forget that.
With a couple singles out now are there plans for an album this year?
The singles were just singles, I recorded those before the pandemic hit and I actually feel that I’m a totally different person now. I’m a different writer, everything, my whole perspective on the world has changed and I’ve taken this time during quarantine to write a lot and I’ve demoed a lot of brand new songs.
I am actually recording new material that will potentially be an album. We’re going to see how the year goes and kind of go from there but all the singles I put out were great in the moment but I’m going to start putting them behind me and move forward with brand new material because I’m a brand new person and I’m really excited for that.
Was it the pandemic that triggered this change in you?
Yeah, and it’s not so much that the writing is about the pandemic but I think it’s fueled everything now and it’s forced me to spend more time with my craft and write because there really isn’t much else going on. I know there are some artists who feel uninspired because of the lack of stuff going on and I definitely relate to that myself. I go back and forth, there are some days where I’m totally motivated and inspired and things flow and then there are other days where you ask yourself, is this ever going to end?
What is your hope for this year?
My hope is to just remain inspired and keep working. I don’t want to lose that fire that I have and I don’t think I ever will but I know that it’s testing me, that’s for sure. There are days that are so low that you can’t help but think, is this for me, is this what I should be doing?
It’s just a very human emotion to have but I hope that I can stay inspired and we can get back on the stage soon. That’s my favourite part of this, sharing my music, connecting with people and gaining new fans. That’s what I want.
Keep up-to-date with with Christee Palace on her website: christeepalace.com