We chat about big ambitions, building music from colour, and bank-related felonies
E.PARKER is international. Moving from the UK to Australia when she was young, she eventually found herself back in London, trying to make a move in the music scene. ‘I moved pretty much as soon as I turned 18,’ she tells us, ‘I was just quite miserable, I didn't really know what to do or what my next steps should be.’ The music, it seems, was an out for her—one massive chance at doing something creative. ‘Leaving high school kind of really threw me so I thought, y'know, if I'm gonna try this whole music thing I should give it the best shot I can and not try it half-heartedly. ’
A lot of E.PARKER’s creative process begins with synaesthesia. It’s a trait that manifests differently in a lot of people, so we wanted to know exactly how it shapes the songs she writes. ‘I was noticing that I was kind of compartmentalising words as colours and it became something that I really valued, the visual aspect of music. It's like a muscle that I strengthened, and now it's a tool I use to help shape the songs I write.’ And as she explains, it goes a little further than just being that kind of tool; for her latest release, the colours are the foundation. ‘The titles of all the songs kind of match the colour scheme that I will choose for a project. For instance, the single I just released, “Godspeed”, is like gold, pink and blue. All the words are those colours, all the visuals are those colours, so it helps me organise things.’
‘For me, I need the songs I write to evoke imagery in my mind. Especially, I think, the new music. When I hear the lyrics back, they make me see things, so I hope other people get that as well.’
'For me, I need the songs I write to evoke imagery in my mind.'
‘Everything I do starts with the imagery,’ E.PARKER continues, ‘For me, a song is a kind of...ugh, this is such a wanky analogy...it's kind of like a sculpture. It's there and it exists, and I know what I'm trying to make, and I'm chipping away at everything it isn't until it reveals itself.’ Her process involves a groundwork of imagery, upon which songs are built. ‘I have a full page of images that's like "this is what my EP looks like". When I'm stuck for ideas, that's what I look at. It all starts with the visuals. Once I find an image, I can't really deviate from that.Her music, which has drawn comparisons to Lorde and Lana Del Rey, is a blend of dreamy electropop soundscapes and lyrics that reflect E.PARKER’s youth and travels. However, her music didn’t really stem from any particular inspirations. ‘I grew up learning classical music. I was taught classical vocals, classical piano and violin, so I didn't really grow up being into music. I wasn't a cool kid, I don't know much about music.’ Still, she credits Arcade Fire and Marina and the Diamonds as two artists that have shaped her approach. ‘Those two, they were a sort of turning point for me. Arcade Fire was a new way to write lyrics, Marina was like "oh god, she moved to London at 18 and was successful, maybe I could do that too!".’
In her Twitter bio, E.PARKER claims that she makes “music to rob banks to”, and that actually has more meaning than you might think. ‘I really wanna get the dramatic aspect,’ she tells us, ‘If I had the money I would love to do that with the visuals too. I mean, obviously “Godspeed” just came out. This whole project, I'd love to turn into a half-hour film.’ Given how important the aesthetic is to the songwriting process, it’s not surprising that she’d have big ideas for videos.
Having moved and kickstarted her musical career when she was still quite young, we were curious to know whether her approach has changed much. ‘The first EP I recorded when I was 19. I moved here, I met Jamie Oborne from Dirty Hit records and he was like "I think you've got something, I'm gonna put you in the studio with one of my producers" and I did that for like a year and we made this EP.’
‘I didn't really know what I wanted my music to sound like,’ she elaborates, ‘so I'm really proud of the songs, but I was still finding my feet. I was more open to suggestions. Now I have a lot more confidence in my vision. I know what I'm making is good, I don't wanna compromise on things as much as I did before.’
She’s already explained the aesthetic that drove “Godspeed”, but we asked E.PARKER about the meaning in the lyrics. ‘It's basically an ode to 18-year-old me who hopped on that plane by herself, and how proud I am of that girl. It was terrifying, and she was miserable, but she did it anyway. When I get worried, that message relaxes me. Also, there's all these little hints of my life in Australia and an ode to my grandparents.’ There are touches of E.PARKER’s working life in London in the song, too—it sounds like an introspective, motivational anthem. ‘Maybe all of the last two years I slaved away to make this new stuff and I really put a lot of money into it, and I had a shift at a bar, and the idea came to me while I was working. I wrote it all while I was doing my shift.’
Following her singles, including last month’s release of “Girl”, E.PARKER is turning her attention to an upcoming EP. We asked for some details on the release. ‘I don't know when I'm gonna release it, this year for sure, maybe mid-year. It's quite long. I've written about eight songs. Six of them are pretty much done.’ While there are no concrete plans for actually getting it out there, she’s got the creative aspects locked down. ‘I think a lot of creatives in London are so talented and they're just working in bars. There's this real disparity between what they're doing and what they wanna be doing. I just made this world up and I'm singing about the fantasy I wanna be in, so a lot of the songs have this duality between the fantasy world of my dreams that I wish I was living in and the reality I'm living in.’
'I just made this world up and I'm singing about the fantasy I wanna be in.'
E.PARKER represents a lot of rising indie talent in cities: she’s creatively ambitious, but the reality for many ends up being long shifts in unfulfilling, grindy jobs. That’s reflected in her music, which is ever-hopeful for something bigger. Finally, she drops a hint about the possibility of a full LP. ‘I've started writing for my debut album. The tracks don't exist yet, they're in my head and I think they'll sound amazing, but I'm enjoying that.’