Changing Parameters with Parris
Following the release of his debut album we talk about the accessibility of his music and influences.
Earlier this month saw Parris release his debut album on the record label he runs alongside close friend Joe Seaton aka Call Super. Can you feel the sun was a label founded for them to release experimental electronic music on their own terms and it has since evolved in terms of acclamation and rationalisation.
The release of “Soaked in Indigo Moonlight” marks an important new stage and trajectory in his own musical progression and follows on from several EP’s released on the likes of The Trilogy Tapes, Hemlock Recordings, Idle Hands and many more.
Parris has been a prominent face amidst the London underground music scene for years and has become widely respected for his approach to production – drawing upon influences from early bass music culture in the UK as well as broader inspiration from beyond.
Describe the approach to the record? How was this different from that of writing an EP or tracks for the club?
When I decided to work on an album I’ve always had parameters in my head of how I would want it to be structured (8-10 tracks / 30-40 minutes). With that in mind it was easier to make sure that I was keeping within these boundaries when working on tracks. Writing an EP / Club tracks is different because the ideas don’t need to make as much sense together on a record. EP’s / Club Tracks may not be listened all the way through / people will pick out the tracks they like so there’s less pressure for coherence whereas an album will be listened to as a sitting so it needs to make sense.
How do you look to take influence from pop music, are there any particular moments from the album which you feel represents this crossover best?
I like the idea of making something which can be listened to by a wide variety of people while still being accessible. Pop comes in different shapes and sizes and it’s hard to make something popular which sticks, it’s a skill / art. Skater’s World represents this idea in a more explicit way but there’s elements of this all over the album. The beat to Skater’s World is a stripped back drum track but once you put the vocal on top it becomes something completely different; It becomes something unexpected without really trying and I like that, doing something different which is accessible. With the way I use rhythm and melody I always try to add an element of accessibility somewhere; you want something to be listenable regardless of taste. Even my weirder ideas still have something you can grab onto for example ‘falling in the waves’; it doesn’t have any drums but there’s so many melodic / beautiful sounding moments / elements that there’s still something to grab onto. When you look at artists / collectives / labels like PC Music, Charli XCX, these are people who took an idea of something and re-imagined it into something completely different, new, and unique. You are never going to dispute that the music isn’t pop but it’s going to make you question your idea of what it means to be pop.
“With the way I use rhythm and melody I always try to add an element of accessibility somewhere; you want something to be listenable regardless of taste.”
The label you run alongside Joe, why did you feel that this was the best home for the release?
Because I share all my ideas with Joe. We’ve been friends for a while now and in mid / late 2020 we decided to make ‘can you feel the sun’ a proper label and start to release music more consistently on it. With that in mind if we wanted to build the label we needed to do more with it and this felt like a natural progression. I’d always struggled with the idea of an album because I was never too sure as to what i’d do / where i’d do it so when we made up our minds it’s the first time the idea of an album clicked with me. Me and Joe have a strong mutual trust where we respect each other’s music but can also be open with feedback so it made the most sense to me to do it with someone i feel happy to share early ideas with
How have recent experiences reflected the music you’ve showcased on the record? I hear you took up skateboarding?
It’s nice to take experiences from daily life and try to translate them into an idea whether it be like re-imagining a certain feeling into sounds or trying to create something with a more explicit reference to these things like ‘Skater’s World’. Skater’s World really happened by accident and it’s been nice to have a tune which covers a space which i’m enjoying with friends but it’s rare for me that I’d write a tune which explores a moment in life so directly. The music I make can vary from day to day but it normally flicks through me either wanting to represent a moment or just having an idea in my idea of what i’d like to explore such as ‘I want to write a house tune but in 3/4 ’ or ‘I want to write a tech house tune’, etc… and as a producer my ears are naturally attracted to certain sounds / frequencies so it’s trying to take these things I like and get them to represent what I want to make sonically. I want to always learn and challenge myself when writing new music and that’s the thing I want to showcase the most – progression. I could’ve done many of these ideas of past records but why am I doing it on this album? Why is it different to what I did on a record 3-4 years ago?
Which parties and crews inspired you growing up? What experiences helped to formulate your own identity in music?
I spent years going to a lot of parties around London, mainly FWD>>. I spent most of my formative years pretty much there week in week out every Thursday. Watching the DJ’s and how they played music helped in forming my musical identity. The idea of having your own sonic palette became important to me so that I could stand out.
What role does city life and culture in London play in your own musical outlook?
Growing up in London is an important part of my identity and influences everything about me as a person. Growing up in such a multi-cultural city means that your in a melting pot of different types of people from different walks in life. In turn it’s helped in creating a rich musical history which allows loads of different types of music to influence and blend into each other. I love drawing from loads of different place and growing up with a diverse friendship group means I was always hearing different music. A big part of my early music production journey was sampling records and re-imagining those sounds into a different context and being from such a multi-cultural landscape encouraged me to keep my ears open to new sounds.
The album is out now.