Back to Music

Prom Queen are all about shadows and cinematic cool

Romance and David Lynch

Prom Queen is a lush, cinematic ‘60s-inspired band fronted by Leeni. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

Certain terms get used ad nauseam in writing about pop music to describe things that "folky" and "dancy" and "fuzzy" just can't cover. I know, I know, what other kind of music is there? Well, one word that gets used frequently by frazzled writers with a deadline is "cinematic." It's just nebulous enough to apply to all sorts of music, but just specific enough to really only be talking about movies, which makes it a perfect copout.

It's with that preamble that I announce this sentence: Prom Queen is cinematic. The soundtracks and scores of movies are valuable, and can be great, but when we use the word "cinematic" to describe a band, what we're really talking about is the idea of a soundtrack - the music accompanying an impossible film, one that features a dizzying array of romantic overtures, bitter double-crosses, scenic panoramas, carefree comedic set pieces, scenes of deep horror, and the tacit acknowledgement of those grainy shadows and pieces of hair that cling to the projected film.

Prom Queen is that kind of cinematic.

Formed by Leeni (AKA Celene Ramadan) as a solo project, Prom Queen has grown into a quartet, featuring Tom Meyers, Jason Goessl, Ben Von Wildenhaus. Still, the heart of Prom Queen lies in the '60s history of the elegant, smoky chanteuse, as played in this instance by Leeni.

"I was in a band called Romeo and Juliet," says Leeni. "It was a long distance collaboration between me and a guy from Pittsburgh. We were making '60s psychedelic rock, so I got a taste for producing that style. But, because it was long distance, we didn't have any performance opportunities. It was really just a collaboration to make an album. So (Prom Queen) was my way of taking a bunch of songs that I'd written, that were maybe for Romeo and Juliet, and re-tweaking them so they'd be for a solo project."

When Leeni would perform these songs solo, she'd do so with a backing track, full of sweeping orchestration and dramatic instrumentation befitting the likes of Nancy Sinatra or Francoise Hardy. Once the rest of the Prom Queen crew joined up, the live sound was fuller, but Leeni still needed that certain element that would recall grandiose, romantic size of the '60s chanteuse.

"I composed the backing track music myself," says Leeni. "I used a mellotron emulator, so it has sort of a scratchy, vintage sound, and I didn't want to lose that in the live show. So, we keep it, so we have the strings and the timpani and the choirs and some of the drum loops behind us, and we play on top of it."

Even as Prom Queen dabbles in the torch songs, surf rock, and dark pop of the '60s, they're still smart to occasionally throw a few cover songs in every now and again. Leeni cannily chooses these songs to fit in with their vibe, even aside from the decade. Songs like Radiohead's "No Surprises," INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart," and Madonna's "Justify My Love" are all big and melancholy in their own ways, which lend themselves quite well to Prom Queen's sultry facade.

Prom Queen sites David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino as influences, which should come as no surprise. Both directors make films about films, which live in a heightened reality. Prom Queen makes music about music. Who knows what would've happened if you were to actually see Nancy Sinatra perform at her peak of mysterious cool, but Prom Queen is what you might picture if you studied Nancy's album covers for too long with "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" slinking in the background.

PROM QUEEN, w/ the Dee Dee's, the Plastards, Bullets and Balloons, 8 p.m., Saturday, May 10, Bob's Java Jive, 2102 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, $5, 253.475.9843

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search