We are pampa
photos by Mark Henesy and Rich Zollner Photography
In the Flatlands
Their debut album, out 07/28/2017
Estadio José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires, 1992: Moon Baillie is losing his mind at the only show Nirvana ever played in Argentina, reeling as the band unleashes a ferocious set of rarities and off-the-cuff jams to stadium full of some 50,000 fans. Only a teenager, Moon Baillie has no idea that that moment—loud, ecstatic, explosive—would shape his musical development throughout the rest of his life. Or that five short years later he'd be living in Seattle, the grunge godfathers' hometown, and establishing his own unique brand of Pacific Northwest rock n' roll.
Over the last few years, Moon Baillie's band Pampa has played stages and festivals across Seattle, earning veteran status despite having no recorded material. Now the quintet introduces "In the Flatlands" their debut LP, a mesmerizing mix of elegantly entwined guitars, dramatically unfolding compositions and Moon Baillie's poignant vocals, sung in English and Spanish. "In the Flatlands" picks up the tradition of moody Northwest angst and embellishes it with Moon Baillie's well-traveled, world-weary perspective. These 9 songs are simultaneously classic and of-the-moment, beautiful and stormy, presenting time-tested rock n roll through a fresh, expansive perspective.
To get here Moon Baillie followed a meandering path, both geographically and creatively. Growing up in Buenos Aires, his godfather owned the city's largest record store and turned him on to giants of American rock like Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix. After high school he took a job at an advertising agency, which he quickly recognized was not his destiny. Looking to expand his horizons and follow his muse, Moon Baillie found his way to St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, North Carolina. The two years he spent there weren't easy—this was the small-town South, a place wary of newcomers—but they were instructive. Moon studied composition, honed his guitar skills and eventually joined a band lead by a guy who was in the process of coming out of the closet and desperate to leave NC. Inspired, he followed him clear across the country to the liberal Mecca of Seattle. Since arriving in 1997 he's pretty much never looked back.
But he's had his share of trials. Finding his sound took awhile. Moon Baillie rekindled his studies in composition at the city's renowned Cornish College of the Arts, a rigorous program that taught him how little he actually knew about music. His first local band, Happy Birthday Secret Weapon, was a wild experiment in prog-rock and improvisation; after several years of increasing weirdness and volume he lost interest. In response he took to writing and demoing songs on his own, in his bedroom, playing all the instruments on what became Pampa's earliest songs.
Finding his people hasn't been easy, either. As open-minded as Seattle is, it's one of America's whitest big cities, where "diversity" is more a concept that residents embrace than a reality they experience. Being a Latino, even one with an Anglicized name and fluent English, is a novelty, which isn't a fun role to play if you're the one playing it. In 2010, a fateful trip back to Buenos Aires for his first time in 15 years made him realize that, despite its flaws, Seattle is home. Moon Baillie made it his mission to make his mark on the place.
With Pampa, Moon Baillie has found his family, and with "In the Flatlands" the group has found their voice. The members of the band have developed an extrasensory understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, a mind-meld that finds them enhancing the song ideas with depth and nuance. The album's lead single, "The Battery is the Lullaby" meanders gently at first, Moon Baillie's and Kerrick Olson's guitars swaying while Nate Rogers' keys chime delicately in the background before launching into a gorgeous crescendo—particularly pretty for a breakup song. "OK OK" finds the band applying luscious sparkle to one of Moon Baillie's earliest demos (and playing harmonica through a Leslie speaker, courtesy producer Johnny Goss). Bassist John Carlson and drummer Steve Lykken drive "Dancing Slow" with a languid but insistent rhythm, its heart-swelling tension perhaps the clearest example of Pampa's haunting power. Sung in Spanish, "Entre Balas y Batman"—"Between Bullets and Batman"—closes out the album with a barn-burning demonstration of the band's compelling balance of restraint and ferocity.
Moon Baillie insists that singing in Spanish is not about separating English speakers from Spanish speakers but rather bringing everyone together in the music. It's about conveying emotion, universal and straightforward. "In the Flatlands" articulates that desire for unity, for belonging. Listen closely and you'll recognize the DNA of Northwest rock in all its energy and intelligence. You'll also hear a band willing to defy convention, to embrace a singular and defiant point of view. Which, come to think of it, is as Northwest as you can get.
News & Updates
PAMPA releases Video for "the battery is the lullaby" from the upcoming vinyl "in the flatlands"
June 14th 2017, Seattle, Washington.
PAMPA is gearing up for their upcoming LP "In the Flatlands" with the release of a video for "The Battery is the Lullaby"
"Our interest in Lalo Lema came from a few videos he did with the tango quintet Quinteto Finisterre in Buenos Aires Argentina. The videos told a story, and the story was very true to the mood of the song. "The Battery is the Lullaby" is a very moody song. Full of spaces, and textures, it seemed to fit perfect with film" - Moon Baillie
The video was shot in Buenos Aires, Argentina (a very moody city itself) between January and March 2017. The script was written by Lalo, with a little help from Moon Baillie. The actors are Sebastian Pau and Romina Tryskier.
We'd like to thank Ulises Conti for facilitating Lou's vinyl.
“the Battery is the Lullaby”/”Entre Balas y Batman” medley at the Tractor Tavern, June 28th 2017
June 28th, 2017 - Seattle
Live video from the show with Thousands and Chris Cheveyo(Rose Windows) marking the release of the video for "the Battery is the Lullaby" The show took place at Seattles famous Tractor Tavern, and the video was shot by Jo Vance.