The success of a good party is not just about what happens on the night. There’s planning, working out how you’re going to hit the perfect vibe, putting together a guestlist, buying ice and cups…
It’s feelings like these that circulate Parcels’ dancefloor slaying debut album. The group have experienced a lot in their three years of existence, their immersive future funk sound a product of a band whose magpie tendencies have created a wonderful melting pot of styles.
After forming at school back in Byron Bay in Australia, the five-piece upped sticks and moved to Berlin prompting the beginning of a life-changing ride that has culminated in their self-titled album.
For guitarist Jules Crommelin, it’s the realisation of several years’ development.
“It’s the first time we’ve produced and released a body of work that we’re really proud of,” he begins. “The album is the perfect representation of us as a band right now.”
The experience of Parcels is firmly rooted in the magic of the dancefloor. The ecstatic realisation of their groove-filled dreams though comes from a whole load of different influences and styles. With Parcels you get a bit of everything, from straight-up electro funk, to rock, to dreamy psychedelia, to chilled out folk.
“We wanted to explore hints of music genres, all the genres that we were growing up listening to and stuff that we were inspired by,” explains Jules.
These influences range from classic pop and disco visionaries like Beach Boys and Chic, soft rock legends in Steely Dan to more contemporary icons like Daft Punk. (More on them later.)
The record the band have created is firmly in keeping with the idea of making something transcendent like their musical heroes.
“We’re inspired by the idea of making a journey through an album,” says Jules. “The experience of Parcels is like watching a film that has many different parts. That has lulls and high points. We like to bring that dynamic into our compositions.”
Despite the disparate influences between the band members, there’s never any sense of conflict. There’s nobody shouting, “This needs more funk!’ or “This doesn’t rock enough!”
“We somehow never argue,” says Jules. “We all have a mutual understanding of who does what. We all collaborate, and everyone respects each other.”
The journey towards releasing the album was one of Parcels finding their feet and developing an inner confidence as musicians and writers.
“The album started with ‘Be Myself’ which is a song I wrote in response to basically writing an album,” Jules laughs. “There was so much pressure that we put on ourselves that I sat down and tried to force myself to feel confident. It’s a song to us, in a way.
“For the album, we recorded it in my bedroom. We’d come together and work on the arrangement and the production of everything. Once we had that we went to the studio. We had this idea from the very start that we wanted to produce the album ourselves.”
Part of the inspiration for Parcels’ self-sufficiency came from a meeting with a legendary musical duo who also did things very much their own way.
Parcels first met Daft Punk when the secretive pair of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel-De Homem-Chriso saw the newcomers play a show in Paris at the Les Baines bar. They were invited by the head of Parcels’ label Kitsune, but the robots were immediately taken by their infectious grooves and offered to work with them straight away.
The result was 2017’s ‘Overnight’, a single that ramped up the buzz for Parcels to record levels. Now though, things are a bit different, and rather than resting on their impressive contact book, Parcels are striking out on their own.
The band have always known where they wanted to go, and their experience working with Daft Punk encouraged them to take control themselves.
“They taught us to follow our own path,” says Jules confidently. “We always had that vision since the start. They helped solidify our confidence in that vision. It was a mentorship in that way. We always wanted to produce ourselves. Parcels has always been that way; our sound is our production.
“Also, we all just want to get better at our craft. It would be a shame to give that over to somebody else because we want to learn how to do it and get better. It just makes sense.”
Having moved from Australia to Germany, the band found themselves making music that was informed by both the electro heartland of Berlin, and the heady party vibes of Byron Bay.
“There’s a Tropicana vibe that we have which is a part of where we come from in Australia,” says Jules. “In a way, it makes sense for us to play with that theme.
“Everyone’s always telling us, ‘Oh, you come from the tropical part of Australia. Why did you move? Why did you go away?’ I guess we’re subconsciously putting that into our music.”
Despite Australia being where Parcels initially met and formed, Berlin was the city that saw them find themselves.
“We were only in Australia for six months as a band, but we’d known each other for many years,” reveals Jules. “As Parcels, we only played three shows in Australia.
“When we came to Berlin that was when we really came together, and we started to work and rehearse every day. When we moved over it got to the serious point. We were on the other side of the world, and we’ve got to pay rent, and it was like, this is it. We’re not going back.”
It was sink or swim for the band. As they began to seek out the sounds of Berlin and experience a whole different culture, the party vibe of Parcels came to life. Despite the experimental sounds and broad musical palette, everything went back to a strong pop core.
“The one thing that ties everything together for us is making pop music,” concludes Jules.
Bands can hope for a lot when they release their debut album. They can hope for instant fame and fortune, the ability to travel the world and live their megastar fantasies. For party starters like Parcels though, their ambitions are the same as for any life-changing bash.
“I hope it provokes general euphoria and happiness,” says Jules excitedly. “I think that’s the feeling you get when you listen to groovy music; euphoria and goosebumps on the skin.”
Taken from the November edition of Dork. Order a copy below. Parcels’ self-titled debut album is out now.
Words: Martyn Young