Item Details

The multi-layered transnationalism of Fran Palermo

Issue: Vol 10 No. 3 (2015)

Journal: Popular Music History

Subject Areas: Popular Music

DOI: 10.1558/pomh.35325


Fran Palermo is an indie band based in Budapest which started performing in 2011, initially
as a cover band, and has produced over 30 original songs and 2 LPs, Fran Palermo and Razzle
Dazzle, in 2015 and 2016 respectively, to significant critical acclaim. Its current line-up includes
eight musicians, with Henri Gonzalez, a musician of Cuban and Spanish descent, being its
leader. This article considers the transnational character of Fran Palermo’s work in the context
of the history of pop-rock in Hungary and Eastern Europe at large, arguing that it does
not fit the prevailing narrative of Eastern European music as imitator of a Western idiom. The
lyrics often engage with exotic landscapes, and are populated by tourist-like clichés, yet the
way they are juxtaposed suggests that the band does not try to recreate realistically an experience
of travelling to the South, but rather plays with its representations. The large number
of instruments, including a trumpet, two saxophones and a conga, allows for the creation of a rich, eclectic sound. The music betrays a multitude of influences, from Anglo-American rock to
South American and African music. The study draws on the idea of ‘world music’, understood
as a music produced in the periphery and offered for Western consumption. Our argument is
that Fran Palermo’s music complicates this idea, as it originates from the place which is neither
West nor a typical East, and it is produced by neither Westerners nor ‘proper’ Easterners, neither
outsiders nor insiders. We also use the concept of heterotopia to explain the textual characteristics
of Fran Palermo’s music.

Author: Ewa Mazierska, Bence Kránicz

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