In these hollow and gloomy times, it is easy to get downhearted with the rapaciousness of the hope-crushers. However, there are joyous things to behold in our myriad universes and Parcels are fast becoming one of them.
Now living in Berlin, this Australian five-piece could have been transported to us straight from the dreams of Napoleon Dynamite - after he’d dropped acid at a Nile Rogers concert. Their combination of deep-laden grooves, pop harmonies and thoughtful lyricism has an almost primordial effect and never fails to stimulate the urge to dance.
We caught up with them to work out a playlist for their Berlin adventures and to discuss their forthcoming UK tour, signing to Kitsuné records and the debt they owe to Tame Impala.
Q. Hello Parcels, please paint us a picture. Where are you and what have you been up to today?
At this moment we're in a van. There are seven of us in here and the air is thick. The music is Air’s Pocket Symphony, and so we're in that soft, dream-state that comes along with Air and long drives. Outside it has just turned from Germany to France and the 20 hour drive to Montpellier still looms large. Moods are high but mellow today. The energy will come with the show.
Q. You’re currently on tour. What has been the response like and what has been your highlight so far?
We're yet to have a crowd which hasn't absolutely blown us away, it sounds kinda bullshit but, seriously. So far this year, our crowds have all come to dance, to have a good time, but also to listen and its really been close to perfect so far.
One highlight was our gig in Vienna, it was by far the smallest venue of these shows. A skinny little stone room under a railway line. We didn't have the highest expectations (especially when we saw that we could barely fit on that 4x4 stage), but that tiny little club was damn sweaty and was absolutely off the chain. We had the best party!
Q. Your last EP Hideout was very well received. There seemed to be a juxtaposition between the upbeat music and the more reflective lyrics – with some exploration of dark and uncertain themes. Please tell us about your thoughts on Hideout.
Nail on the head. The tone of the EP is a conscious juxtaposition between confidence and insecurity. The music aims to stand strong where the text tends to shy away. Specifically, we based it on one character (all of us really) who seems to be walking through life comfortably but is always battling with an unexplained inner struggle.
We are proud of Hideout, it’s the sound of us exploring studio production and song writing together and we feel happy to stand behind these songs. That being said, we have learnt so much in the process and we are so so eager to make something which sounds and feels better!
Q. You’ll be coming to the UK this summer to perform at the Dot to Dot festivals. What influence has UK music had on the band and what can the UK music lovers expect from you?
Yeah, we can't wait! UK music has been monumental for us, we don't need to go into detail about every UK artist that influences us though because that list would over-shoot this email's word capacity.
The UK can expect from us the same as everybody else can expect from us, our live sets are all about letting loose and having fun and we bring that idea with all the energy we have. We can't wait to groove more on that sweet little Island!
Q. There are many influences at play in your music but Nile Rodgers seems to be the most accessible source – something which stimulates an almost primordial urge to dance. What are your thoughts on this comparison and what were your musical and creative ambitions for the band when you started out?
No beef with the Nile Rodgers comparison. It’s in the guitar mostly (although we have been loving some inspired Chic-esque piano lines lately too), but yeah that dude was behind some of the most danceable tunes ever.
When we started we came with the idea to create electronic music with a live feel and a disco influence. But that immediately broadened, we quickly came to the conclusion that we just want to make good pop music, simple music which we connected with and music that reflects us at any given time. So now we're not trying to create one sound, but just what comes out. The influences then are anything we dig, and really that’s everything. Everything from Disco to Techno to Folk to Metal. Megadeth or die!
Q. Famously, The Beatles stopped touring in the mid-60s to perfect their sound and musicianship in the studio. You seem antithetical to that particular journey. Can you talk a bit about the challenges of transferring your studio perfectionism to live performance and what you enjoy most with both disciplines.
I guess we are very different in our path at the moment, but full respect to that kind of journey. Studio work is such a profound world and one can get so totally lost in there. It’s also arguably the most 'important' part of all of this because it’s what people can generally access, even if they can't come to a show. Maybe we'll disappear in there one day...
For now, we are so happy to be able to have a hold on both of these worlds though. There is nothing like feeling the air in a packed club with terrible sound and 200 dancing, sweating, smiling humans. At the same time there is no satisfaction like producing our own songs, spending days and nights getting lost in that studio world and the endless possibilities of recording.
At first, we had trouble because we started by producing songs on the computer, dove into that for months and then came out with something that seemed impossible to replicate live. But it seems to have gotten better, perhaps we're just gelling more and more.
Q. You’re now signed to Kitsuné Records, who we know in the UK for Hot Chip, Klaxons and La Roux. Can you tell us how the deal came about and why you think they’re the right fit for you.
People ask us how that happened a lot but we can never really answer it well. There is the long answer involving a crazy Russian dude (he might also be French). And then there is the short answer in which they just stumbled upon our tunes and shot us an email. But it happened and it felt good.
They're great because they are such a close knit and family orientated team, they understand our vision and they seem to have cool means to help us get our music out there.
Q. You’re originally from Byron Bay, Australia. There is a thriving music scene in Australia with many great artists emerging onto the US and European scenes. What is it about Australia in the last 10-15 years that has given birth to such a strong identification with music culture and one that blends so seamlessly with other peoples in other continents.
It’s a good question, why has Australia suddenly emerged in everyone’s heads? I guess the music was always there, recently we went on a revival phase of great Australian music and there is some brilliant stuff from the 70's 80's and the 90's too. I guess a few great Australian acts just popped through in the last few years. No one fails to mention Tame Impala, they've really put us on the map of late.
Q. You are now based in Berlin. What was behind your decision to relocate and why Berlin?
We just finished high-school and, like any high-hoping 18 year olds from a little town, we wanted to go to a big city somewhere far away. Europe was always in our heads for some reason, its seemed like it'd be the most fun. And even though four of us had never been here before we just moved to Berlin. Because its cheap, it’s in a great central location, it sounded really cool and musically exciting and it’s got an amazing history. Within a few months, I think we all knew that we had made the most lucky, good decision ever.
Q. If you were to choose a five-song playlist of your time in Berlin which songs would you choose and why?
Patrice Rushton - Forget Me Nots
I recall listening to this on the stereo on our first days in Berlin. When we were all sleeping in a little one bedroom air bnb with no certainty of how we were going to move forward or settle in this city. That bass line was just too much though...
Kraftwerk - Tour De France
Berlin was the place where most of us discovered a real love for electronic music. Kraftwerk was new for us and this kind of music became a big influence. The attention to detail in that synth work was shocking.
JJ Cale - Friday
This is the summation of every road trip and tour journey we've ever taken. Jules introduced us to JJ, some of his childhood music, and I've never heard better driving tunes than those on his 5 album.
Von Wegen Lisbeth - Wenn Du Tanzt
These guys were the first band we met at one of our first shows in Europe. Lovely fellas and we ended up playing a couple of other shows with them too. Toto has a painful habit of loving one band (or worse, one song) and playing it about seven hundred times daily. He did this to Von Wegen Lisbeth, somehow it’s a fond memory though.
Milk Carton Kids - Monterey.
Also from when we lived together. All five of us sleeping in one bedroom for about 3 months upon arrival. I can't remember how many times we would put this album on and drift off, be it after a long Berlin night or on a relaxing summer evening. When Milk Carton Kids came on we all knew that we would not be leaving the house again.
Q. Besides touring, what else does 2017 hold for Parcels?
Besides touring; Writing and recording mostly. Working on visual things, videos and whatnot. Enjoying that long-awaited summer sun.
Toto has been doing handy work, building fences and such. Louie is watching Japanese films. Jules is giving up meat. Pat is working on his German. And Noah has his fingers in far too many pies to mention here.
Parcels play Dot to Dot Festival 26-28th May