UMS Content Series: MiMi Nissan of Palo Santo
How would you describe your music if you had to fit it into a genre?
MiMi: This is always a hard question to answer for us (isn't it always!). We've been told we remind people of "Quentin Tarentino," literally just that, not a movie or a specific scene, etc., just Tarentino. But we love that! We've also been described as a "Lynchian Spaghetti Western in the garage of a beach house," or the "Lone Ranger on Horseback Surfing". So I suppose you could say we're Spaghetti Western Goth Surf Psych Rock.
How long have you been playing together/ been a band?
MiMi: We've been playing as a band for 2 years. UMS (click to see more) is actually what we consider the anniversary of our band, it was our second show ever, the first being in the beginning of July! So every year it comes around it's like Palo Santo's birthday party.
What's your relationship with music and how/why did you start? How did the band form?
MiMi: I've been writing lyrics and poetry since I was in kindergarten, obviously back then it was not as refined (ha ha). From a very young age I knew that I was going to be in a band (probably from watching so many Bob Dylan documentaries and Sid and Nancy in Elementary school; thanks Papa) and I think that writing lyrics definitely stemmed from my love and fixation with poetry. That's usually how all my lyrics start as little poems or obsessions with a single word or phrase. I tried to start bands in middle school and high school but I could never rely on anyone else so I ended up relying on myself and that resulted in writing more poetry and teaching myself guitar.
I told myself that in college I would start a band, which I did, but that band really didn't pan out. It was the way that Russell and I met that formed Palo Santo. At first we were going to start a weird Middle Eastern band; how we both started talking was because we both loved Middle Eastern music. But when we got together to write, we came up with what Palo Santo is now. For about a year it was just Russell and I writing songs, some got used and some were completely scrapped. We would drive to my mom's house in Boulder and practice in her basement so we could actually play loud instead of quiet in my studio apartment. Once we had some songs that we were proud of we tried to find drummers and we had been through a lot! Until we finally met Mason and that cemented the lineup of Palo Santo. It's funny because Mason's mom was a teacher at my elementary school and my mom had actually "met" Mason when he was in the womb, way before I was born! Cosmic alignment perhaps?
As far as Palo Santo as a whole, we never really got together and said, "let's write this type of music," we all got together and Palo Santo is what came out. Our songs are like my diary entries; writing and music in general has always felt that way for me. Two of the songs we play now "Ghost" and "Cowboy" are songs I had written in high school but I am sure that my dad's love for Clint Eastwood Western's definitely rubbed off on me and Palo Santo's sound.
What are you looking forward to most at UMS this year?
MiMi: We're looking forward to being 2 years older with new songs, new tricks, and seeing all of our friends play!
What does UMS mean to you/your band and for the city?
MiMi: As mentioned before, UMS was our second show ever so it really does mean a lot to us. It's been a fixture in the Denver Music scene for a while now so being apart of it is always groovy. Anything that gives bands like us a chance to play, grow, and be heard is important to us as well as Denver. With so many people moving to Denver (which is a relatively small city) the culture, "scene," community, etc., can change and therefore the opportunities.
What are your summer plans?
MiMi: Play some shows, plan a tour for the fall through Texas, and record new songs!
Favorite local bands?
MiMi: Love Gang, Slynger, The Leisure Boys, and The Savage Blush.