Cindy Savalas is the imagined creation of World Of Paint boss Kai AKA Palmbomen II. After the release of ‘Cindy Savalas’ under his Palmbomen II guise in 2015, he made the decision to create a video, with the character of Cindy being brought to life by actress and singer Blue LoLãn. LoLãn’s portrayal stimulated a deeper connection with Cindy for Kai, and thus he decided to dive deeper into the character and the world around her, resulting in the first full release Memories Of Cindy.
I’m Cindy came after this; conceptualised around the idea of Cindy having her own “lost” record, once forgotten but now rediscovered. Cindy takes centre stage across the release, singing her own shoegaze/italo disco pop songs, touching on subjects like her boyfriend Justin, her mum and her cat.
Some of the tracks were accompanied by a series of music videos shot by Palmbomen II further exploring these subjects, as well as a larger 3D animated world built around Cindy, which seeks to find where in the realm between animated 3D and reality Cindy actually inhabits.
Here Kai takes us through each of Cindy’s tracks…
I like to record voice messages on my phone when I get ideas for melodies and harmonies because it’s a lot easier outside the studio to get those ideas. I record these on my phone and I remember walking outside my old home in Los Angeles while recording this, including mumbling the vocal lines. Much later in Antwerp I had my simple live set up and I recorded a lot of Cindy songs with that, and sometimes when I have no good ideas I go through my phone recordings and use these. After that (early 2019) I wrote and recorded lyrics with Blue in LA, and I loved how it came together, but I was searching how to finish this track, and I had in mind to do something with this kind of ‘cheesy shopping mall sax’, I like those, the kinds you hear in the old The Bold and the Beautiful soundtrack. Then last summer I played on a Dekmantel festival like event in Barcelona and my driver was Anxo, a friendly guy that took care for me, he told me he used to play Saxophone for Manu Chao and others and I asked him if he wanted to record some lines ‘over the internet’. I felt ashamed but showed him the The Bold & The Beautiful references and he got it and recorded sax for a lot of tracks and this was pretty much the track finished.
2y & 6m
I find this a fun song on the album. I made this album all just with my liveset, and that means also for this song just two synthesizers, the Korg EX800 that does all the ‘bass’ synth parts, and my good old Roland JV1010, that does all ‘bells’. And that’s it. But I like the ‘italo’ flow that is in this and the ‘story’ the bass tells. At first I thought the vocals should be ‘italo’ too and to follow the melody the bells make (that you hear now just before the vocals all the time), and I wrote long lyrics for all that but it just didn’t work. Then I scrapped them just all and started writing more harmonies on top, imagining a little Slowdive or even Nirvana backing vocals, repeating just one phrase all the time. Especially the ‘I Don’t Remember’ part I can imagine Kurt singing (on a total different track though). This together for me was the ‘essence’ of the record, to mix these two worlds. I like the ‘pop’ and the ‘dance’ world, but unfortunately they’re always very separate, but I like to operate between these.
Lyrics-wise I tried to write something more personal and close to me than I did before. And I knew Blue is very close to her mom and so am I. We talked about themes for Cindy and this was one of the sides we liked to come back in the album. And so I wrote a personal song for my mother but then in the eyes of Cindy and some liberties I could take as Cindy. I think Blue delivers the feeling so good and honest with her mom in mind, it is love but it has a darker side too, I like that contrast and world that it makes. My friend Betonkust also said about this song that I would maybe never write this ‘as me’ but that Cindy gave me the freedom to do it.
Never Let Me Go
This was actually made way before I was thinking of an album for Cindy. I put a new fresh 808 kit in my MPC and just made a bunch of tracks jamming around with this and just some bells as bass and melodies (this was also with just my liveset). At the time I was scoring a film called ‘Jawline’ which is about some hot social media boys and how they made money on girls wanting to be with them. Liza, the director, wanted to make it from the perspectives of these girls and give the music this feeling too. So I tried to write little lines all over the movie like the girls are ghosts that are whispering the thoughts (“look at me right now, look at me right now, never let me go, never let me go” or “hoooold me”). Most of these were not used in the film but I tried something like this with Blue on the 808 jam I had laying around from before and I had an instant good feeling about it. I didn’t see a real use for the film at first (we actually did use it in the end as song over the credits) but it felt like the cornerstone of Cindy’s music in a way. The track that started it a bit for me.
I guess this song has the most of a Julee Cruise feel of the whole album, it felt a bit too similar and I’ve been in and out holding it on the album, but the atmosphere is so pretty and light. When I made this I had my friends Antenna and Betonkust over and also my sister was there, we wanted to see if we could make some tracks for the album together and I was just finishing up recording New Power. They were rocking along left and right while i was recording. The cheesy sax also finalized it here and gave it more of a charm. I like also the little shooting stars sound effects. I did all the sound effects of the record in some hot summer days in 2019 with my friends María Pandiello and Jacco Gardner in a day when they were scouting Antwerp for houses. We figured what sounds fitted with the stories of each song and we made all the sounds with some guitar and some pedals and a synthesizer. María made this picture during the recordings.
Cousin’s Birthday Party
I like the harmonics and all that are going on in this track, especially when it goes into the ‘chorus’. For this whole album I discovered the strength of the Korg EX800 for cello like sounds. This sound kind of reminds me of Prince, like Raspberry Beret and songs like that. But it gets a bit silly with that tambourine and seems to really mimic the Fresh Prince Of Bell Air theme song, I actually never used ‘swing’ ever on a song myself so it was fun to try to see how far I could go and that it would still fit with the vocals. My friend Betonkust hated it and protested hard to have it on the album, but here it is. 😀
An older version of this song was made for the earlier mentioned movie Jawline. The vocals saying ‘hold me’ were for me what those girls were thinking, it was the feeling we had when we saw the images. The ‘rain’ here also was made like the other sound fx with a eurorack arp 2600 clone synthesizer making random ticks into a spring reverb, with another run of that synth for ‘wind’, all these effects were made in the same day with my friends María and Jacco.
I started with that 808 beat which reminded me of Gesloten Cirkel, I liked the roughness but wanted to combine that with melodies to pull it more towards Cindy’s world. Fun fact: the ‘choir’ sound in the bass and melodies is the same sound as I used in 24×33 by Betonkust and me, this is also the used JV1010 which is in every track.
This song kind of touches me, it’s about Cindy’s cat Mary and her cat passed away. And then in the end it becomes a little darker with the darker bass and then the The Bold and the Beautiful saxophone hits. It’s like here for me where I see the cat lifts off to heaven. Also in this song the sfx, the cat meowing and scratches were made in these same sessions as others. All of these are that same little synthesizer.
I made the track in the same session and on the same day as Another (you can hear it in the drum sounds). We used to have this animated series in Holland from the 80s (also translated to other languages) which was about a duck, but it talked about pretty deep subjects like apartheid and nazism too. It has really good music and I had this atmosphere in mind when I was making this, I really like the mood. I wrote a lot of vocals for this one too and all we kept in the end was a backing vocal, which is really minimal, but I love the emptiness and the things Cindy is not saying..
I Love You
This song I made the day of or the day after Never Let Me Go, some longer time before I really started the album, and it’s one of my favorites, I made it for someone that is not in my life anymore. I wanted to make an 808 ballad like Anna Domino makes them and I think I was having this three quarter melody in my mind that is the ‘hook’ and it all came very quickly and easily. When I then had Blue sing over this it all fell so easily into place. It’s all the same as other songs, the main melody and the bass come together at the same time out of my Korg EX800, the choir out of my Roland JV1010 and the drums are a sampled 808 in my MPC with spring reverb on that.
This is kind of a heavy track, every time I hear it it kind of frightens me. After I finished all songs and recorded all vocals with Blue, I was back in Antwerp and realized I wanted to do a voice message with Cindy, it fits with that world and the technology. So I wrote a little script and sent it to Blue. Then we just recorded a call where she performed this, and it sounded very frightening hearing this and hearing somebody say this to you, even though it’s acted. It ends with that harsh noise which is kind of an easter egg that has to do with the earlier mentioned Korg EX800.
Maybe Because It’s Over Now
One of my favorite animated films is Whisper Of The Heart and it has a song on it (can only find on Spotify and not Youtube oddly enough) that inspired me a lot to make something similar. Not that I held it next to it, but I might have watched that movie and started making music in that mood, but that song is a favorite. And I liked this as a goodbye song, it’s like a sad goodbye for me, a nice way to end the album. Fun fact, this song is in five quarter measure, I like to sometimes hide such a ‘strange’ measure and make it feel natural.
Buy I’m Cindy.