The Daily Gamecock

There and back again: the evolving sound of Paleface

Paleface (PF), a man with eclectic talents and eccentric sound, is a folksy singer-songwriter currently based out of Concord, North Carolina. What started as a solo act in the Village during the early nineties has evolved into a duo with PF on the guitar and vocals and girlfriend/collaborator Mo Samalot on the drums.

After a decade in New York City, PF was leading a rock band when he met Mo, his neighbor and burgeoning drummer. A simple request to “jam” soon turned into a music act, PF left his band to form the newest iteration of his persona — a two- sometimes three-man group with an honest and stripped down sound.

“It just worked,” PF says of his relationship and musical chemistry with Mo. “You can try to figure it out or you can just go with it.”

After finding a more relaxed sound from his previous rock n’ roll gig, PF and Mo started looking for a slower pace of life to pursue music full-time. Luckily, advice from PF’s roommate and Americana darling Langhorne Slim suggested Concord, home of the Indy 500 and popular folk band The Avett Brothers.

Since their move, PF and Mo’s sound has evolved, the sparse tools of a guitar and drum set pushing both musicians to innovate and find new ways to make music.

“I think we’ve evolved, PF definitely challenges me,” Mo said. 

Mo has to listen to PF on stage, making sure her powerful drums don’t overwhelm the guitar and vocals. “There’s no nights off,” PF lamented, but the lack of a safety blanket means these two are perfectly in-synch, always listening to find the perfect balance of sound.

Their utilitarian approach to instruments has simplified their sound, but made it deeper and resonate more; there’s no hiding behind guitar solos and trumpets, what Paleface produces is their pure, honest truth.

And the music isn’t the only thing bare-bones. PF and Mo are a two-man road crew, handling everything except booking by themselves. 

“It’s pretty much DIY, everything is us,” PF said.

The pair can also add artist and merchant to their long-running resumes. PF, who began painting several years ago, designs all their album covers and paints over Mo’s discarded drum heads with winks to their music and quirky tastes. Their artwork is as successful as their albums at shows, as Mo claims their mobile art gallery is more of a “guerilla art show” than a merch table.

But for all their creative expressions and year-round touring schedule, Paleface hasn’t released an album in nearly a decade. His mission has been the same since his career’s inception: originality and honesty.

“What I’m trying to do right now, is not try to sound like anything,” PF said. 

And he succeeds. Paleface’s music is a singular experience best witnessed live. Whether it’s a rousing number about styrofoam or a somber tune about life on the road, Paleface is a new experience.