In Ink Please
Not An Ordinary BandVanessa Palmer is not your average young woman. In addition to being, the prodding force behind the indie folk band In Ink Please, she has been married and is in the process of divorce, been to Antarctica, will be spending the summer in Germany, and is a chemistry major/environmental health minor at the University of Washington in Seattle. She and her band-mate Jerik Hendrickson have been on two major tours of the U.S. as In Ink Please, and have made three albums (one being a self-released EP, one being a split with the group The White Foliage, and one being a full LP). Did I mention that Vanessa only recently turned 21? If I didn't, I should mention that it's pretty remarkable to me that someone so young could have done so many things by now. Not only that, but Vanessa and Jerik have come a very long way since their first release.
by Liz Durham
Vanessa and Jerik met while they were in separate bands, both of which took a hiatus and eventually broke up. They played in a show together, and afterwards Jerik contacted Vanessa's band, and they began to correspond. Jerik recorded some of Vanessa's solo songs, and eventually they began to act like a band. They picked a name (derived from a chemistry class where the teacher insisted everything be written in ink), and In Ink Please was born.
I was first introduced to the music of IIP (In Ink Please) in college through my current boyfriend, who attended the same high school as Vanessa in Williston, North Dakota. My boyfriend had made me a CD of various independent music groups, and threw on the song Pi Mathematical (off the self-released EP ...And That's How the Printers Work) because he knew Vanessa, and really liked the song. My first reaction to the song was amazement and slight intimidation, amazement coming from the fact that this duo were only sixteen and seventeen when they recorded the song, intimidation coming from the way that Vanessa sang. It felt like she was putting her heart and soul into what she was singing (and still does), but with a genuine fierceness that you don't find in many groups nowadays. Not only that, but the lyrics were some of the more interesting that I had heard (Unpinned my heart from my sleeve but that didn't make it right/So I sitched round my head to make Earth air-tight). It seemed more like she was having a conversation with me, and that she and I had met at some point in our lives. Needless to say, I was very impressed and needed to find every song that IIP had made up until that point. It helped that they were about to release a split CD with their friends The White Foliage (formerly The Foliage) through the independently labeled Fall Records.
How to Make Better Love was released only a year after IIP's self-released album, but you can immediately tell the difference. I was expecting the sound to be more mature than what they had done previously, but this exceeded all my expectations while still retaining all the original charm. Vanessa still sings with the same intensity, and the lyrics are more complex but still attractive. Jerik even does lead vocals on one of the songs, a cover of Hum's "The Very Old Man." Vanessa and Jerik co-wrote the lyrics on the album, with the exception of "The Very Old Man" and "...Band Party," which was written exclusively by Jerik. They also came up with some crazy-cool song titles, most of which are inside jokes between them but still have something to do with the song in a round-a-bout way. The songs flow very well from one to another, and shows that they know how to make sure that the songs are in a fantastic flow order.
And last but least of all not least in any way whatsoever, there's the album Formica Table For Two. The lyrics for this full length album (released by Fall Records in 2006) were written exclusively by Vanessa. Normally when they get together, Vanessa and Jerik come up with new ideas for lyrics, most of which are about what's going on in their daily lives, as well as family and friends. They tend to write their own musical parts before they meet and then tweak the parts while they are together to fit both their tastes (as Vanessa lives in Seattle and Jerik in Fargo, it's hard for them to get together very often). However, this entire album is about Vanessa's young marriage and separation, as well as her transition from a small town to the big city. This is what makes the album all the more genuinely beautiful. I still feel as if Vanessa is having a conversation with me with the same old intimidating ferocity that is quite melodious yet very relaxed and mellow at times. The lyrics for many of the songs have a simple yet haunting beauty that far surpasses any other lyrics that IIP has written. And Jerik's guitar makes it all the more sincere. The sound of the band has matured beyond anything that I would have imagined, also due to the fact that they added more instruments to the venue (such as violins, bass, and handclaps). This helps IIP sound all the more soulful and honest. It also makes me want to hear more from them. Unfortunately, that won't happen for quite awhile due to busy schedules and other conflicts.
So what's next for IIP? Vanessa is ready to 'get her tour on' in 2008, though it's a bit hard for them to book because they tour so infrequently. She also wants to bring back the Rhodes piano that was unfortunately absent from the last album, as well as write more collaboratively. However, their 'Mom and Pop organization' will continue to make music without a doubt, not for the profit but because they really do enjoy it. It won't be a career for them because they have a lot going on in their lives outside of the band, but it's a very fun hobby for them. A very fun hobby indeed.
In Ink Please is Vanessa Palmer (vocals, keyboards, clarinet, barrel o' monkeys shaker) and Jerik Hendrickson (vocals, guitar). They can be found on their website at www.ininkplease.com, as well as www.myspace.com/ininkpleasemusic. CD's may be purchased from their record label at www.fallrecords.com, and individual songs may be purchased in the iTunes music store.
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