The multi-layered transnationalism of Fran Palermo


  • Ewa Mazierska University of Central Lancashire
  • Bence Kránicz Eötvös Loránd University



Fran Palermo, Hungarian music, transnationalism, world music, Spain, Orient


Fran Palermo is an indie band based in Budapest which started performing in 2011, initially as a cover band, and has produced over 30 original songs and 2 LPs, Fran Palermo and Razzle Dazzle, in 2015 and 2016 respectively, to significant critical acclaim. Its current line-up includes eight musicians, with Henri Gonzalez, a musician of Cuban and Spanish descent, being its leader. This article considers the transnational character of Fran Palermo’s work in the context of the history of pop-rock in Hungary and Eastern Europe at large, arguing that it does not fit the prevailing narrative of Eastern European music as imitator of a Western idiom. The lyrics often engage with exotic landscapes, and are populated by tourist-like clichés, yet the way they are juxtaposed suggests that the band does not try to recreate realistically an experience of travelling to the South, but rather plays with its representations. The large number of instruments, including a trumpet, two saxophones and a conga, allows for the creation of a rich, eclectic sound. The music betrays a multitude of influences, from Anglo-American rock to South American and African music. The study draws on the idea of ‘world music’, understood as a music produced in the periphery and offered for Western consumption. Our argument is that Fran Palermo’s music complicates this idea, as it originates from the place which is neither West nor a typical East, and it is produced by neither Westerners nor ‘proper’ Easterners, neither outsiders nor insiders. We also use the concept of heterotopia to explain the textual characteristics of Fran Palermo’s music.

Author Biographies

Ewa Mazierska, University of Central Lancashire

Ewa Mazierska is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Central Lancashire. She has published over twenty monographs and edited collections on film and popular music. They include Popular Music in Eastern Europe: Breaking the Cold War Paradigm (Palgrave, 2016), Relocating Popular Music, edited with Georgina Gregory (Palgrave, 2015), From Self-Fulfillment to Survival of the Fittest: Work in European Cinema from the 1960s to the Present (Berghahn, 2015), Falco and Beyond: Neo Nothing Post of All (Equinox, 2014) and European Cinema and Intertextuality: History, Memory, Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Bence Kránicz, Eötvös Loránd University

Bence Kránicz is a journalist and a PhD student at the Film, Media and Contemporary Culture Programme of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. His articles on film, literature, comic books and music have been published in various Hungarian magazines since 2009.


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How to Cite

Mazierska, E., & Kránicz, B. (2017). The multi-layered transnationalism of Fran Palermo. Popular Music History, 10(3), 241–261.