“As soon as you tell an artist what they are, they immediately want to do the opposite”: A chat with Parcels

You’ve probably been hearing the name Parcels around a lot lately. Since forming in 2014 during their high school years, the five-piece have been winning audiences the world over with their soulful concoction of sounds.

Originally from Byron Bay, the band relocated to Berlin fresh after finishing high school. It’s a bold move, yes, but at their very first show overseas, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo – aka Daft Punk – found themselves in attendance. The legendary French duo would go on to produce the band’s next single, Overnight.

Now, as they gear up to release their debut full-length album, we caught up with member Noah Hill to chat about how they got to this point.

Shortly before they release their debut album, we caught up with Parcels’ Noah Hill to chat the new record, Japanese 80s disco, and viewing the Australian music scene from an international perspective.

HAPPY: Hey, congratulations on getting the album done man. You’ve previously stressed the importance of patience and taking your time with these songs, did that mindset ever get frustrating for you, or did sitting on the songs feel natural for you?

NOAH: There have been frustrating points where things didn’t work, and there were times when we were being rushed by the outside world, because there’s a certain deadline you’ve got to adhere to. But we were always super strong about sitting on it and making sure it was good. We were never going to put out something that we didn’t think was good. So we were always super strong with that.

HAPPY: Was it ever a struggle for you, that push from exterior forces?

NOAH: Yeah, it was at times. But the biggest time pressure we had was being put on by ourselves actually. We actually kind of set the deadlines as well. We were the ones who decided we wanted to get it done at a certain point so we could get it out by a certain time. So we mostly put it on ourselves.

HAPPY: With your first EP, there was this really interesting duality between these introspective lyrics and this really slick, confident music. Have you gone for a similar thing with the new album, or has that concept changed a little?

NOAH: Yeah, I feel like it’s always kind of there. We really like that slick kind of sound, but lyrically, we’re humans and the lyrics we write tend to always be heartfelt and personal. Having said that, I feel like the sound of the album is a little less slick, and a little less disco, and a little less groovy at times, you know? We followed each song on its own path, rather than try to box it in. So yeah, the music’s going to be different.

HAPPY: Did you make the conscious decision to make that change?

NOAH: Yeah it was a very conscious decision because we didn’t like being put in a box. We didn’t like being a ‘disco’ band. I feel like as soon as you tell an artist what they are, they immediately want to do the opposite… and that’s how we felt. But it wasn’t just about running away from that label, it was really trying to show the things that we had already been doing for the last seven years. This was the first time we had a full body of work where could show exactly what we’re about. But it became a conscious decision to really outline the styles that we had.

HAPPY: Your music is this kind of this melting pot of sounds… what are you all listening to at the moment?

NOAH: Yeah well the music that really influenced the album in a big way was exotica, and these kinds of island sounds. Lot’s of everything really. I’ve been listening to lots of pop recently actually. Surprisingly. For some reason Drake’s entered my system. This bastard. I want to get him out. We listen to literally everything. Everything from show bands to rap to disco to soul. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Japanese music recently as well. Love Japanese 80s disco…

HAPPY: That is a genre I’m yet to crack, but i’ll put it on the list…

NOAH: Oh, do it. It’s a good journey.

HAPPY: You guys are originally from Byron Bay, but have since relocated to Berlin. What was it about Berlin that drew you to that area of the world?

NOAH: We didn’t have a great idea about Berlin, really. We were just going through our last years of high school and there was just this hype around Berlin. We just wanted to leave Byron… we wanted to leave Australia. We wanted to go to Europe and be in a bigger pond, I guess. We just got our hearts set on Berlin so we chose it. We didn’t really think about it too much, we just booked the tickets.

HAPPY: Moving to Berlin straight out of school is a pretty bold move. Was there ever a point when you were like “fuck, what are we doing?”

NOAH: There were a few moments. Like in the winter, in that first winter, it was pretty grim. We didn’t have much money and we didn’t have much food, and it was cold and we didn’t have heating. There were moments were I was like “woah, what am I doing?” But mostly, we were just having so much fun… and it was an amusing journey. It was a life decision. It was all part of the adventure.

HAPPY: In terms of dance music, you see a lot DJs coming from that part of the world, but you don’t really see many dance bands. Was it hard for you to crack into that scene?

NOAH: Oh totally, there’s no bands. And that’s maybe why we did crack it – because there was really no one playing the same type of music as us. Maybe that helped us. We were something different. It’s really just a DJ hub. You kind of have to look to Paris to find similar bands to us and a scene that we can connect with.

HAPPY: Has that DJ scene ever really been receptive to you guys?

NOAH: No, I feel like that scene has never really responded to us. We’re two totally separate things. It’s all just techno DJs , and we’re doing something completely different.

HAPPY: Flipping things the other way. What’s it like viewing the Australian music scene from that international perspective?

NOAH: Yeah, it’s really interesting. Because we have no idea about the Australian music scene right now. We’re very confused by it. I feel a bit weird about it, to be honest. Triple j are just eating the scene. They have the music scene in their hands, and anything they want to get cool gets cool. So I don’t really understand why certain people are getting big in Australia. There all these bands that are so huge in Australia that I’ve never heard of. It’s on its own. I look at it and I see the reasons why we wanted to move… we didn’t want to get stuck in it.

HAPPY: When you did first move overseas, Daft Punk were in attendance at your first show. Were you aware they were going to be in attendance prior to the set? Or did you just find out later?

NOAH: Yeah, we knew. We’d heard rumours. There were a few people talking about it… and I remember setting up my gear and I could see them on stage.

HAPPY: Did you know what they looked like?

NOAH: Yeah I kind of knew what they looked like.

HAPPY: What were you thinking when you first heard they were coming?

NOAH: Yeah well we’re all such massive fans… so we were tripping out. But we weren’t to know what was going to happen. Having them in the crowd was cool, but we didn’t know what was going to happen after that… that was the most exciting part.

Parcels’ self-titled debut album will be out October 12th via Because Music/Caroline Australia. Catch them on tour in Australia in January.

Wed 9 Jan 2019 – The Triffid, Brisbane QLD – Tickets
Thurs 10 Jan 2019 – Hotel Brunswick, Brunswick Heads NSW – Tickets
Sat 12 Jan 2019 – Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW – Tickets
Mon 14 Jan 2019 – 170 Russell, Melbourne VIC – Tickets