SXSW 2015: Parlour Tricks x Vinyl Mag

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Made up of three girls and three boys, Parlour Tricks’ sound is every bit as balanced and effortless as their group dynamic. We caught up with Lily, Brian, Morgane, Angelo, DeeDee, and Terry during South by Southwest to chat about their upcoming debut album, Broken Hearts/Bones, changing their name, and some interesting pre-show rituals.

Vinyl Mag: Last year when we interviewed you guys, you were still Lily & The Parlour Tricks. Why did you drop the Lily?

Lily: I left the band! No, I’m just kidding. It was mostly just a practical trimming of fat move. We refer to ourselves as Parlour Tricks, or just Tricks, and so do other people.  When someone asks, “What’s your band name?” and you say, “Lily & The Parlour Tricks,” inevitably they just get confused, so it just seemed like a natural move.

DeeDee: Another thing is that Lily is our bandleader; she writes all the music and all the lyrics, but we are a band. There are six of us, so it was nice. It felt unnatural and unnecessary.

VM: Having an even boy/girl ratio in a band is pretty rare; do you think that affects your dynamic?

Morgane: We actually say that’s one of the reasons we get along so well. We joke about it I think, but it’s also kind of true. The fact of it being evenly split allows there to be somewhat of an equilibrium, that’s magical and makes it easy.

VM: You guys put on a great show. Do you think your stage presence is a result of playing together for so many years?

Lily: Our comfort with each other has been there from square one, but I think it took time to understand. It’s still taking time; it’s an ongoing process. It’s definitely fun. Our main goal is to be enjoying ourselves on stage.

VM: Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process with the new album and maybe some themes that are going on?

Lily: It’s funny. This album was very personal, which is very, very new terrain for me. I used to write almost exclusively drawing from different stories or newspaper articles and stuff like that. It started with “Requiem” and “Love Songs” and “The Storm.”  It was like a little game for myself. With other songs, our guitarist Angelo would call me and challenge me to write another song, and we would record that instead of what we were planning to record. It was an interesting challenge and fun, but it was personal in a way that I had not ever been comfortable doing before. I’m not an instrumentalist at all, but I got an omnichord for my birthday like two years ago, which Brian actually plays when we do acoustic performances. It has like eight chords on it, and it’s very limiting, but in a safe way for someone who doesn’t play an instrument. I began writing on that, and it became weirdly integral to the sound of the album. We don’t play it on the album, but it became a necessity. I would send very bare bones voice tracks with three part harmonies and a bass line to them and begin to put it together.

VM: That sounds like a process.

Lily: This was a very lengthy but relaxed process. The fact that it turned out to conveniently be an album of 10 songs was a bonus. We just wanted to be working on these new songs in a new way.

Brian: It was a different palette and approach to music; you start getting more textures. It defined how we approached and created the album. We were searching for a sound that felt like us. It probably took longer than we wanted.

VM: We heard you guys split a lemon six ways before going out on stage every night. What’s up with that?

Lily: Morgane was sick one time with a 104-degree fever and needed to wake up. We had to go out there, so we all sucked a lemon together. I don’t know if we gave it much thought. It’s just like a slap in the face when you bite the whole thing and eat it.

VM: Being from New York, how did it feel to be named “Best Pop Band of 2014” by Village Voice?

Angelo: It was a really great feeling. If it was our moms voting it would be like, oh…but it’s the Village Voice – more than just our moms.

VM: Is getting so much positive press before your album drops more scary or satisfying for you?

Lily: I think it’ll be interesting. I have absolutely no idea what people will think about this album. None. It’s encouraging to hear people have responded well to the two songs we put out from it. I have no idea if it’ll lead to more press. Strong reactions are what we’re going for.

VM: You’ve performed a lot at festivals in the past year. How is SXSW different?

Lily: The first time we played at SXSW, we did like nine shows in four days, so this is kind of tame. SXSW is such a different animal; it has to be approached differently. Parking is the only really bad thing and having to navigate with all our gear.

Morgane: There’s something about SXSW. We know what to expect; we know it’s going to be crazy, and everyone’s going to come prepared.

VM: This is your third year at SXSW. Do you feel like every year you’re gradually seeing more opportunities as a result of playing here?

Brian: Every time we’ve come, or almost immediately after, we’ve seen a direct effect. In our minds, it’s totally worth it. We have a great time doing it.

VM: What’s the best thing you’ve eaten at SXSW so far?

Lily: We ate at this legit little diner called Magnolia Café. It was so delicious and out of the way.

VM: Who are you excited to see this year?

Morgane: Stromae! He’s a Belgian rapper. We also want to see some of our friends.

VM: What’s next for you guys?

Lily: Taking a nap. We’re playing a fun show next weekend at Rough Trade in New York with Bright Light – Bright Light from the UK. We’re going to be releasing “The Storm” in the spring with a video and then preparing to release the album.

 

*Check out Parlour Tricks perform their new single “Storm” at Austin’s Riverview Bungalow for Paste Magazine.

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