Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?
I just finished my hour of vocal training for today. Earlier today I listened to new mixes of a couple of new songs I’m collaborating on with Becki Whitton aka Aphir. I can’t wait to release them in a couple of months. I’ve also been prepping for a 16 hour creativity marathon that I’m doing tomorrow. I’ll be writing, producing some demos, painting and working on some stop motion animation pieces.
Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for?
I have been a singer and songwriter for 20 years. I’ve been writing songs since I was 5 years old and now write, record, produce and perform my songs with 4 different music projects. Parker, Runaway Belles, FM2030 and Ladychoir. From 2012 – 2016 I took a break from my music career to focus on my Fine Arts studies and practice. I’m a painter, sculptor, video and sound artist. In 2017 I launched my new music project PARKER combining my music and arts practice. I’m a serial collaborator and love making work with others.
Who are your greatest inspirations? Why?
Imogen Heap – because she is one of the most innovative and expressive artists who works with technology artists to find new ways to write and perform her music
Bjork – because she is a fearless creator who is constantly pushing the boundaries of visual expression in combination with her music compositions.
Robyn – because she makes heartbreak sexy and easy to dance to
How do you create music? Are you lyrics/story driven, or does the music/melody come first? Explain your process.
Primarily I write from experience and tell very direct and honest stories about my own emotional experience of events in my life. When I write this way I generally start with some guitar chords or a bass line or a looped sample to sing melodies over. I find that the cadence of the chords or tone of the instrument sets the mood for me so I like to change things up a bit to draw out different emotions and stories from myself. My voice is my most freely expressive instrument so I use it to write other melodic instrumental ideas. Sometimes the initial lyrics end up being the final ones but other times I like to push myself to edit the lyrics to tell the story in the most clear and engaging way. I worked closely with Becki Whitton on my recent single Lie Low as she has an incredible ability to help distill the essence of a story into beautiful poetry.
What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?
In performing it has been learning how to sing the songs that I write. I build songs in a studio context and then discover that they are actually really vocally challenging. Now I have an amazing vocal and performance coach who is helping me discover an immense power and stability in my voice I didn’t know I was capable of. It’s so exciting!!!
In creating I feel it’s my confidence to trust my own taste. I have always been surrounded by incredible musicians and always felt inferior to them as they were confident men who really knew what they wanted. It’s taken me years of support and encouragement from some really key people in my life, Becki Whitton, Hans Van Vliet and Mijo Biscan, to get to a place where I feel confident in my music and songs.
Tell us about your new release, how did it come about?
I wrote this song a few years ago and it was a cathartic release of the anger I felt for letting myself get lost in a relationship for so many years. Releasing my music with experimental and compelling visuals is an important part of my artistic practice so I worked closely with Hans to create the video clip for this song. I filmed myself performing to the camera and sent him the footage so he could try some experimental AI driven animation techniques. The result was this incredible clip where I am inside a painting, performing my song in parallel with an animated narrative playing out the metaphor of giving too much of myself in relationship.
What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?
Spend some time journaling on what your definition of success is and why you do what you do. It’s easy to get caught up and distracted by activities that feel like ‘opportunities’ but that are actually distractions. If you are clear on what you want and why you want it and you check in with that vision everyday you will naturally make steps towards that each day in the decisions you make.
Tell us your favourite Zen practice.
When I first wake up in the morning I make a pot of tea and then go around the house to check on my indoor plants. I stop at each one and give them my attention and gratitude. In return they have become jurassic!