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Fabiana Palladino’s new single, “Waiting”, is the latest release from the Paul Institute, the record label and creative house founded by pop visionaries Jai Paul and A. K. Paul.
“Waiting” has undergone several permutations since Palladino – a London singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer – first wrote the song six years ago. Initially inspired by Prince’s “When You Were Mine”, the final version is an uptempo pop song with yearning lyrics driven by an instantly unforgettable guitar riff and bright bursts of digital synths. The song also features bass guitar from Fabiana Palladino’s father, the versatile session bassist Pino Palladino.
Fabiana Palladino has played music from a young age. Both of her parents are musicians: her mother a backing singer, her father having played with everyone from The Who to Nine Inch Nails to D’Angelo. Instruments were always around the house (one day when she was a child, Palladino woke up to find that her mum had left a keyboard in her bedroom), and when she was at school, she also learned to play the drums, bass, and guitar while singing in choirs. Growing up in Hampton Hill, an unremarkable South West London suburb, music was a way to add some colour to a neutral environment.
Around the house and in the car to school, Palladino’s parents would listen to soul musicians like Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and Aretha Franklin. Later, while studying at Goldsmiths University, she was introduced to Kate Bush’s album Hounds of Love, which opened her ears to a whole side of the British pop and rock canon, like David Bowie and Peter Gabriel – artists with a singular vision, who created music that feels like its own world. It’s a sensibility that Palladino brings to her own music, too, where she produces, writes, and sings across her records. Her sound is immediately distinctive, pairing beautifully crafted melodic pop songwriting with bold, inventive, left-of-centre production choices.
After university, Palladino worked as a session musician in London’s 2010s indie, pop, electronic, and R&B scene. She played with Ghostpoet, the Maccabees, SBTRKT, and Sampha. More recently, she has been a member of Jessie Ware’s live band, and last year appeared on records like Kindness’s “Cry Everything” and Jai Paul’s “Do You Love Her Now”. Even while playing with other artists, she always felt the urge to write more music of her own and embrace the emotional release that comes when musical ideas and lyrics fall into place.
It was an email from Jai Paul that randomly turned up in her inbox one day that encouraged her to take her own songwriting more seriously. Jai reached out to Palladino to tell her that he liked her SoundCloud demos, and after meeting up, he explained that he and A. K. were thinking of starting a label. She was one of the first artists to sign to the Paul Institute, debuting on the label in 2017 with “Mystery”, described by Pitchfork as “a scratch track from a big-budget ’80s studio that’s been smuggled out on reel-to-reel tape”. She followed it up with 2018’s “Shimmer”, which caught the ear of Swedish pop icon Robyn, who both included Palladino in her guest edit for Dazed & Confused Magazine and gave her an on-stage shout-out during her Songwriter of the Decade acceptance speech at the NME Awards 2020.
Last year, Fabiana Palladino performed several shows with the Paul Institute at their residency at London’s Laylow, as well as support slots for Anna of the North, Georgia, and Nilüfer Yanya. She is currently working on her debut album.