In Conversation: Parris

In Conversation: Parris

The London producer on his sub-bass roots, and blending system culture with unexpected elements...

It’s 3pm on a sunny, autumnal day in London as Hackney and Tottenham bred producer Parris sits down for a chat. As warm as ever, Parris may be one of the most approachable artists existing within the realm of electronic music. Never one to turn his nose up at someone who requires help or advice, his friendly nature has found its way into his productions. An infectious enthusiasm that lights up one's spirit.

Crafting distinctively sub-bass aesthetics wrapped in a colourful bow, he has recently ventured away from the FWD inspired productions of the Hessle Audio post-dubstep era in favour of something with more pop sensibility. As inspired by Lil Peep and Frank Ocean as he is Youngsta and Ben UFO, his music sits in a lane of its own - something totally unique, yet something that can be connected to by many.

Following important releases on The Trilogy Tapes, Wisdom Teeth, Hemlock and Idle Hands, Parris has co-founded Can You Feel The Sun with friend and frequent collaborator Call Super, where his forthcoming debut album - 'Soaked In Indigo Moonlight' - is set to land on November 19th. We caught up with the future-gazing producer to chat all about it.

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The album is a little more club focused than other records I’ve heard from you? Was that the focus as we came out of lockdown? Less home listening and more club focus?

As I’ve become a lot more confident with writing music it means that I feel like I can incorporate a lot more things but still make it work. It wasn’t really a lockdown thing. I still wanted the album to be functional, I didn’t want it to be an ambient album or anything. I wanted it to be weird, but weird music can still be functional. That was very important to me.

I’m keen to talk about your formative years at FWD. Like anything so new and exciting it will probably be hard to pick a real ‘moment’, but are there any sets that come to find where you just thought, fuck, yes, this is it?

I watched Youngsta quite a lot, he was a big influence on me as a DJ. He was one of the best. Youngsta in that 2010-2011 era was an interesting time because he slowed down a bit. Everyone had moved on to brostep and he stuck to his guns, and as that started to fade away he was getting a second wind. Watching him at that time was quite formative, as you were watching someone who was quite hyper specific about what they wanted to do.

In the early days, Ben [UFO] warm up - warm up! Imagine Ben as a warm up DJ now! - and he’d do like four hours. You were watching the boundaries being broken and music moving in a different direction. Before 2010 everything was more secular. Dubstep was dubstep and grime was grime. That Hessle Audio era really blew everything wide open.

Your music is distinctively sub-bass, when did you get the inspiration for the more poppy elements? Was that gathered when listening to the likes of Denzel Curry, Frank Ocean and Lil Peep? What is it you take from their art forms and try and implement into your own?

It’s more about making music that is still listenable and making music that can still connect with people. Yes, you can make something quite weird and experimental, but I’ve never liked challenging music. My influences nowadays are a lot more pop music focused. I like some PC Music stuff - PC Music is still quite out there, but it still has a pop sensibility.

Frank Ocean is the great example of someone who is so far in their own lane but still so connected to other people. 'Blonde' is such an incredible album and in every sense it is not your typical R&B or pop album. It’s such a weird record that has so many weird connections in it. It has this dedicated fan base to it because of how incredible it is. I might not be able to achieve that, but I like the idea of music that is quite unique yet still listenable to different people.

I love the free-form idea behind the album: the what will happen but just let us see element. What are the daily moments lately have inspired you? Be it skating with pals, a sunny morning or simply having a pint.

It comes from moments, sometimes. The first time I ever met Eden [Samara] was when I was skating with Fio [Fa] and Peach. She based her inspiration on meeting up with a group of people, and that’s where ‘Skaters World’ came from. ‘Laufen In Birkencrocs’ was a joke between myself and Joe - Call Super - this summer; I told him I was going to get a Birkenstock tattoo, and he was like “then you should probably get a pair of Birkenstocks right?” so we cycled around the city and bought a pair.

Sometimes ideas don’t need a specific sort of thing. ‘Crimson Kano’ was more me just being like, I want to write something at 160BPM to show that you can polyrhythm an idea and you can make something sound like two things at once. That’s why it has that weird little thing at the end, the BPM doesn’t change at all, but when you work with different rhythms you can work things out in different ways.

How important is the idea of collaboration to you?

I collaborate a lot, on The Trilogy Tapes and with Joe etc, so have some collaborations on the album was very important to me. It’s nice to be able to share those moments. Luckily the scene I’m in isn’t that political where I need to go through someone’s manager and all that. I can just message someone and say “let’s make music together” and if it works it works, and if it doesn’t it doesn’t.

What do you feel growing up in Hackney and Tottenham has taught you?

When I grew up there they were very deprived areas. Hackney was one of the worst boroughs in London to live in. I think it helped me be a bit more open in the world. When you move out of areas like that you realise the world is a very big place, but people get stuck in a very specific place, but growing up there created my values as a person and how I see the world.

It makes you want to support those around you because you have an understanding of the circumstances. My mum had me at nineteen and she raised me as a single teenage mum in a rough place. You realise the value of support through things like that. I connect with a lot of people; that element of music is quite important to me. I’ve always had a lot of people who have supported me along the way. That’s why I’m happy to give that back as much as possible and it’s made my life in music a lot more tolerable.

I’ve seen a lot of people go in and out of it and I’ve seen some people become very cold with it through having a bad time talking to labels and becoming jaded. It’s good to show people that there are people who will support you in this independent scene.

The label is run alongside Call Super, how has it been collaborating with him and what do you have planned for the future?

The label started by accident. We put the first record out because we weren’t too sure where we wanted to put it. This year was interesting because the last two years we’ve only done one record a year, now we’re putting out three - two solo Call Super records and my album.

Joe and I are very open with each other, if we didn’t like an idea we’d say it. Because of that we have a lot of respect for each other and we know just how to run it. Next year I think the focus will be working with other people as opposed to us releasing. We’ve started talking to some friends and some artists whose music we really respect and we’re into. There will be more collaboration and solo stuff coming, but at the same time hopefully we’ll have some new faces soon.

We also want to use it as something to encourage the changes that we want to see in music. There have been a lot of the conversations happening across the last five years of music and people are starting to notice the inequalities in the scene. As a label we want to use our space to take action and implement those progressive changes. I don’t usually talk about these things on record because I would rather speak with my actions than my words. There’s a lot of people on the internet who like to talk without taking action, it’s just an empty promise.

We need to make sure we’re taking our time and being considerate as we want the label to be as open a space as possible.

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'Soaked In Indigo Moonlight' will be released on November 19th.

Words: Andrew Moore

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