Initially appearing as a blurry, sample-driven electronic pop project with influences ranging from Todd Rundgren to Italo-disco, Neon Indian emerged as one of the flagship acts of the chillwave style during the summer of 2009. Over time, the project adopted fleshed-out instrumentation, higher production values, and funkier, more danceable rhythms.
Neon Indian began as the multimedia project of Mexican-born, Texas-based musician Alan Palomo, formerly of the band Ghosthustler and the solo dance music project VEGA, and video artist Alicia Scardetta, who had been friends since high school. Though the No Way Down EP appeared in 2008, buzz around the act didn't really start until spring 2009, when the songs "Should've Taken Acid with You" -- which was inspired by Palomo and Scardetta's friendship -- and "6669 (I Don't Know If You Know)" were posted and praised by indie blogs. The songs "Deadbeat Summer" and "Terminally Chill" followed a few months later. Palomo wrote and produced Neon Indian's debut album, Psychic Chasms, which was hailed as one of chillwave's definitive works soon after its arrival in fall 2009. The following year, a deluxe release of the album, plus remixes by Toro y Moi, Dntel, Bibio, and others, arrived as Mind CTRL: Psychic Chasms Possessed. Joined by musicians including guitarist Ronald Gierhart (who contributed to Psychic Chasms), keyboardist Leanne Macomber, and drummer Jason Faries, Neon Indian began touring extensively.
In early 2011, Neon Indian released a four-song collaborative EP with the Flaming Lips. That September, Neon Indian's second album, Era Extraña, which Palomo recorded in Helsinki and mixed with Flaming Lips/MGMT producer Dave Fridmann, was released. The album, which featured input from live guitarist Joshua McWhirter as well as a few other musicians, had a much slicker sound than the project's hazy, lo-fi debut, and was conceived with live performances in mind. Errata Anex, a remix EP featuring Era Extraña tracks reworked by Actress, Patten, noise pioneer Boyd Rice, and others, arrived in 2013. That year, Neon Indian also contributed the exclusive track "Change of Coast" to the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack.
After Palomo's laptop -- which contained several years' worth of demos for the third Neon Indian album -- was stolen, he decided to work on other projects. These included appearing in Terrence Malick's film Lawless and writing and scoring the short movie Outer Osmo Ghost Mode, which was commissioned by Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art. When he returned to making Neon Indian music in 2014, it was so influenced by his VEGA work that Palomo named the album VEGA INTL. Night School. Recorded around the world and mixed with onetime Spank Rock producer XXXchange, the album arrived in October 2015. ~ Heather Phares & Paul Simpson