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Psykos album artwork
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Psykos: The story behind Bladee and Yung Lean’s surprise new album

Producers Palmistry and Silent$ky give us the lowdown on the indie-inspired new record, and why they nearly lost their minds making it

From the opening track, it’s clear that Psykos isn’t your average Drain Gang-Sad Boys project. Surprise dropped last week (March 13), the first full-length album by Yung Lean and Bladee hits listeners with a solemn cello arrangement and Yung Lean’s spoken word, “I woke up in the border of chaos and order”. A solid first line by any account, and sets the tone for the rest of the eight-track record, reflecting on a decade of fame and its side effects

Turning away from the sonic optimism that has typified their sound across the past few years – reaching its peak in the pair’s joint 2013 track with Skrillex “Ceremony”, with its calls to “let the sun shine right in”Psykos (Swedish for ‘psychosis’) doesn’t hide from the darkness, or the pressures of living the fast life. What perhaps stands out the most, however, is the absence of the go-to beatmakers (Sad Boys’ Gud and Yung Sherman, and DG’s Whitearmor). Instead, the duo opted for Palmistry and Silent$ky, whose guitar-rock production offers a notable stylistic development for the two artists, pushing them towards a more rock-orientated sound (hinted at previously with Jonatan Leandoer127’s lo-fi solo work and Bladee’s latest single “Requiem”).

We caught up with producers Palmistry (Benjy Keating) and Silent$ky (Lucio Westmoreland) to talk Psykos, working with Bladee and Yung Lean, and why they were both so inspired by The Smiths and football pub anthems.

So, how did you both meet?

Palmistry: We both met in LA through our exes at the time at this house party. What do you think, Lucio?

Silent$ky: Yeah we met the first day I drove across the country from New York to LA. Then a year later we did [Palmistry’s album] Tinkerbell together and we’ve pretty much been talking every single day.

How did you both get involved in Psykos?

Palmistry: I’d just moved to Athens, Tinkerbell had come out a month before. I don’t even know if me and Jonathan [Yung Lean] were talking at the time. I’m not sure, maybe we’d had a falling out. But I got a message from him and Benjamin [Bladee] saying they wanted to do an EP, and that they were in Thailand. They asked if I wanted to come out and do it with them, [around the end of January 2023], and that’s where it all began. The next day, I was on a flight to Thailand – it was so last minute. 

Silent$ky: Benjy was asked to pull up to Thailand and he created as much music as possible. There were a lot of different ideas marinating, but the guitar stuff was what was sticking the most. So we just went on that and it became this process of communicating back and forth between Thailand, Athens, Sweden, LA. Benjy, you mentioned you and Jonathan were listening to The Smiths together a lot.

Palmistry: In Thailand, me, Jonathan and Benjamin were recording every day in the studio, and I was playing them everything I had. I was playing a lot of Lucio’s music. In Thailand, we wrote “Still”, “Ghosts” and “Enemy”. Thailand was a surreal experience for me – it was lovely and amazing, but it was intense. Then in April, we all met up in Sweden.

Silent$ky: We went back and forth over the web for a second, and then in April of last year, we met in Sweden in this beautiful, snowy mountain, and we finished it there. It was pretty picturesque and amazing. 

Palmistry: That’s where Psykos was born. 

You’ve mentioned The Smiths, but were there any other music references that stand out to you? One thing that really struck me about the album is, as you said, how guitar-heavy the production is. 

Palmistry: We did try some Smiths-inspired stuff that I sent Lucio, and that we wrote together. We were trying minimal guitar and dub vibes, but it transformed into this guitar-driven thing. I’m a massive indie head. I was really into The Libertines and The Strokes as a kid, so that’s who I was referencing. 

Silent$ky: The guitar direction didn’t come out of a predetermined thing. We tried a bunch of stuff and that’s what we liked the most, so we ran with it. Obviously, Drain Gang-Sad Boys, the production is always so goated, and we wanted to do something more minimal, and do the most with the least. The guitar direction helped us focus on that. 

Palmistry: I agree with that. 

I wanted to ask you about the football sounds at the beginning of “Hanging From The Bridge”?

Palmistry: That’s a Glasgow Celtic footballer, a Swedish OG striker from when I was young. “Sold Out” sounded like a football pub anthem and Hendrik Larsson was a goated footballer in England. My era.

Psykos translates to ‘psychosis’ in Swedish. To me, it’s a tribute to the experience we had making this record” – Silent$ky

Was there any feedback from Bladee or Yung Lean about the direction they wanted to go in?

Palmistry: Here’s the crazy thing, for Psykos, there are eight tracks but we probably made about 40 tracks individually. Maybe more than that. We made so many songs I wasn’t even used to working that way. Then I’d go to the studio and play Jonathan and Benjamin the tracks and they would say, yeah, this is the one – they loved “Ghosts” and “Enemy”. That set the tone for the rest of the record. 

Silent$ky: I would say their vision for it came mostly in the process, as it did for us. Whatever resonated most was what we moved forward with. Also, when we were in Sweden, we were working with all this different music. I have this folder on my laptop called ‘certified hits’. Those were the ones we knew were going on the record. 

Palmistry: Yeah we got some gold. I levelled up a lot in terms of working with people. The process was like, I truly lost my mind. And, then in Sweden, when we made the rest of the project, Psykos was a fitting name for the record considering the states that we pushed ourselves to get the record done. I relapsed the day before we went to Sweden so I’ve been kind of unhinged since that moment. 

Silent$ky: Psykos translates to ‘psychosis’ in Swedish. To me, it’s a tribute to the experience we had making this record. 

Palmistry: Me and Lucio were trying to kill each other from the first day. 

Silent$ky: He was trying to kill me, but I was not. 

Palmistry: I really lost my mind on some Napoleon Bonaparte-type shit. But it was good in a lot of ways.

Silent$ky: It kept us focused. Also, you and me mostly make electronic music. I hadn’t made a rock record in ages. It was an adventure and a challenge for both of us in that sense. We’d also be remiss not to mention that once we were done with the production and tracking, we got Chris Coady, who’s a legend in his own right, to do the mixing. 

Is there anything that surprised you about the record? 

Palmistry: Part of the reason I went crazy was because I was desperate to get the project out, because I knew I was losing my mind. It took some time, too. But it’s been a real journey. Lucio was more about, let’s take our time and make something really special, and I was kind of losing the plot. I feel like he was steering the ship with that, so I guess the way it’s turned out, it’s perfect, to be honest with you. 

Silent$ky: So there was one thing I wanted to mention about “Coda”. The album was done and we all thought it was going to be seven songs. I think there’s even a graphic with a seven that looks like a scythe. 

Palmistry: Basically, I used to be in an industrial band when I was 20 or 21. I had this music teacher, not from school but he put me onto all this classical music. I had an idea for the album where I wanted it to be full of choirs and shit. I just hit him up and he just came through with the touch. 

Silent$ky: Benjy, you also pushed the boys to do the spoken word.

Palmistry: Yeah true. That’s a reference to Triad God, an older project I have. The boys are big fans. 

OK, final question. What’s your favourite track on the record?

Silent$ky: Um, man. Probably “Enemy” or “Ghosts”.

Palmistry: I love all the tracks on the record but my favourite is probably “Things Happen”.

Psykos is out now

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