Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker opens up about unlikely pop aspirations

Kevin Parker, the man behind Australia’s beloved Tame Impala, has recently opened up in an interview with Billboard.

Ahead of the release of his fourth album, The Slow Rush, next Friday, the musician shed some light on his future aspirations, and they might not be quite what you think.

kevin parker, tame impala
Image by Djeneba Aduayom.

Australian psychedelic hero Kevin Parker opens up about his desire to write for pop stars, and the lesson he learnt from Kanye West.

Despite the fact that Parker hasn’t released music in half a decade, Tame Impala is still as popular as ever. A rock band that can easily sell out arenas and amass a crazy 1.6 billion streams, the project stands out as somewhat of an anomaly in the music industry.

Parker’s journey has seen him go from indie hero to critically acclaimed writer and producer – a shift which well and truly cemented itself with the release of his 2016 album, Currents. Following this, Parker became a go-to for production and co-writing.

In 2018, American rapper Travis Scott recruited Parker for his track Skeletons, which appeared on the singer’s chart-topping 2018 album, Astroworld. Then, that same year, Parker worked with Kanye West, scoring a co-writing credit for Violent Crimes, the final track on West’s 2018 album, ye.

Parker describes a crucial lesson that he learnt from the session with West, one he sees as “one of the biggest forces of Kanye as an artist”: not to be afraid of failure.

Parker’s achievements have earnt him widespread reverence from fellow musicians. In 2016, Rihanna covered Tame Impala’s New Person, Same Old Mistakes on her number one album, ANTI.

Parker was also recruited by Grammy Award-winning musician and producer Mark Ronson, for his 2015 album, Uptown Special, as well as his 2019 album, Late Night Feelings.

“Kevin can do anything,” describes Ronson. “He can play anything and play it incredibly well. He has killer melodic instincts. And he has an impossibly cool aesthetic when it comes to sonics, without ever trying to be cool. It can be intimidating to collaborate with someone like that, but also his take on things is so unique, I never want to distil that.”

kevin parker, tame impala, mark ronson
Image by James Mccauley/Shutterstock

Also among the Kevin Parker fan club is everyone from ZHU to Theophilus London to Lady Gaga, and apparently the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Dua Lipa have also reached out to him to collaborate.

Something must have stuck for the musician who is known for his desire to stay out of the spotlight. For the first time Parker wants to make the jump from bedroom producer extraordinaire, to hotshot collaborator on the global stage.

“I hope to one day be able to do what I do on my own in a room full of people,” says Parker. “That’s the ultimate goal for me.”

After working with the likes of Camila Cabello and Lady Gaga, Parker realised what he saw as his next step – writing songs for pop stars.

“It’s the yin to the yang of psychedelic rock — writing a catchy, sugary pop song that’s like, three minutes long,” he explains. “I want to be a Max Martin.”

Max Martin is the legendary Swedish producer who was the mastermind behind countless global hits including the likes of Britney Spears‘ Hit Me Baby One More Time, Katy Perry‘s I Kissed A Girl, Taylor Swift‘s Bad Blood, and many, many more.

Making such a leap might prove interesting for someone who prefers to take a “zero dollars” approach to production – feeling more at home composing in the confines of his own bedroom than in a large studio.

Yet, ultimately Parker acknowledges that the main obstacle to this next phase of life will be himself. Being comfortable with his own success is something the singer has been slowly coming to terms with. According to his manager and Spinning Top founder, Jodie Regan, apparently, Parker has his eyes on Beyonce.

The Slow Rush will be out on the 14th of February 2020. In the meantime, check out this amazing mashup somebody made of Tame Impala and Justin Timberlake.

Watch the video for Tame Impala’s latest single, Lost In Yesterday, below.