By Ellen Kinsey, Fourth year, Film and French
'A 70’s shimmering backdrop, rainbow strobe lights, and zesty synths', Ellen Kinsey interviews Parcels prior to their show at SWX
Before seeing Parcel’s live performance; I chat with Louis Swaine and Noah Hill backstage earlier that day. A funny contrast of character from viewing their quintuple act performance that evening. Still decked in a retro turtleneck and long blonde hair, we sat in their tiny dressing room; I joked 'only the two of you?' they laughed, 'trust me, you wouldn’t want all of us in here!'
Parcels are an indie-funk band composed of, Patrick Hetherington, Louie Swain, Anatole "Toto" Serret, Noah Hill, and Jules Crommelin. Now based in Berlin, they migrated from Byron Bay, Australia. Childhood friends and bandmates since 2014, they made the big move to Europe 'to be Parcels'.
When asking what influence the city had on their music, Louis recalls that they recorded their album in the cold and that darkness had a certain influence on their music. Objectively, on the outside, their sound would typically be labelled as cheery and chill. However, Noah answers that it had an influence more on the lyrics than the sound, 'the city had a big influence on their album but it is hard to isolate what it is. Berlin has an isolating feeling.’
The setlist of the gig was brilliantly arranged. Packed with instrumental interludes, it allowed the boys to jam and out and goof off on stage. It is evident that the connection between the band goes further than a collaboration for their love of music. It is also their fun schoolboy banter that liberates them in their live performance and the album.
Querying the cool demeanour musicians why the tracks of their album were spelt as one single word such as for why the tracks of their album were spelt as one single word such as for tieduprightnow, withorwithout or lightenup. I expected a cool niche response; I laughed as Louis stated, ‘It all started because for the first demo that we sent on Pat’s computer, the space bar was broken. On the email, all the words were smashed together.’ Noah chimes in, ‘Yeah it creates a new word, in the end, people thought games of luck, was game o’ fluck! In the end with titles of songs and band names, the meaning of the word goes out the window once you’ve looked at it too long.’
The band introduced their set with Comedown, a combination of all sounds from plucky rifts, salient synths and the cyclical drum beat. After Lightenup, Hideout, and Gamesofluck, followed Withorwithout. Curious to see what the significance pertained to their album cover of the band on a flight, the boys told me that the recurring hand for the covers of tieduprightnow, withorwithout, lightenup and bemyself was of a ‘hand of the girl who reoccurs in the album, she is a character that resurfaces now and then.’ This girl is referenced several times in their track withorwithout.
Parcels have been coined by NME as ‘the Beach Boys gone electro-disco’, I asked what inspired their sound, be it musicians, films or anything in particular? ‘Not really,” states Noah. ‘We listen to a lot of different music, a lot of different films. It so hard to point out. It changes all the time.’ Louis adds, ‘We listen to new things every single month. Get inspired by something and show everyone else and be like look at this and then we will incorporate immediately.’ ‘Yeah it happens instantaneously,’ Noah replies, ‘like we will all be at a gig and inspired by something and then next practice we will start to incorporate the sound. Already early on in their career they have had a single produced by Daft Punk and made appearances on stage at Glastonbury and other festivals in the past year. On the topic of festivals, Noah adds,’ ‘I feel like this happened a lot with justice on this tour. We watched a lot of justice on the tour – they were so everywhere at the festival we were at, and they just had such an amazing show. We realised at the end of the tour that, yeah that’s a bit like justice.’ Justice’s influence was evident in their set with the electro-pop infused with disco juxtaposed with multitudes of jammy interludes and strobe lights. So far, so funky!
Smirking on stage as three crowd-surfers get passed through the crowd, the audience was electric. No matter age or gender everyone was behaving like love-crazed fan-girls launching themselves at the stage. From song to song you can hear all the differences from all eras. Despite picturing myself in the 70’s playing pool in the pub with my cords on, I asked the Louis and Noah what had been their evolution of both their sound and look. ‘We’re trying to achieve a sense of timelessness, not any particular era, but some music from each decade seems to have a timelessness about it and that is what the goal is, kind of making sure we’re not stuck in that one-time period.’
They stated that their first evolution of the band is when they started going busking. ‘We needed money for Europe.’ Louis says. ‘So we learnt these bluegrass covers and hit the streets.’ They laugh as Noah remembers, ‘and even when we got to Berlin someone recently sent me a video of us busking in the street.’ ‘We looked so funny! It was just us in some market in Berlin and ‘Toto’ is playing the brushes on the snare, Jules is like on the harmonica we are all just wearing glasses and we have our old bandmate from our old folk band who used to sing with us there as well. We just looked sooo super raggedy!’ they laughed. ‘Louis and I were just talking about this the other day; about that video. We were partying a lot at that time but had no money to do it and Toto would come with not much sleep coming from Berghain and just come up, grab his snare and put his glasses on - beating the snare. It was a fun time.’
They ended their set with Tieduprightnow and their most established track Overnight. Although evidently loving all of their songs, they stated that Everyroad was there favourite. ‘I am most proud of Everyroad, it was such a mammoth in the undertaking and it was all five of us in the rehearsal room and we did things we never did on it before like string arrangements and stuff.’ Louis responds, ‘yeah, like it is a journey and it was a very big idea but we got there in the recording. Noah adds, ‘…and each of the phases kind of help encapsulate the different sounds that we have as a band generally.’ I inquired what their favourite venue they’ve performed in has been so far. ‘Bristol was pretty fucking great!’ they said in response. ‘It was at Thekla, for sure it was the highlight.’
No doubt was the crowd a disappointing follow-up to their previous Bristol performance. They left the stage one by one, leaving their instrument behind for their theatrical exit. I hope Parcels will continue to play that funky music! I am very excited to hear the evolution of their sound and will for sure be attending their next live performance.
Featured Image: Ellen Kinsey/ Epigram
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