We’re just going to come out and say this: Parallells are awesome, and you should check them out too!
Proponents of a dizzying live sound, the two brothers have been enticing us with their killer hooks and melodies for some time now, so we were only too happy when we discovered they were putting out an album. And what an album it is! A truly brilliant and original piece of work, it tells you everything you need to know about these guys. If you’ve not checked in with them before, consider A Day At a brilliant introduction. And if you’re already familiar, chances are you’ll be suitably impressed. So… here’s to the guys! Anyway, here’s what happened when we chatted to them recently…
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Let’s start by chatting about the Netherlands. How impactful has the place been on your music?
The Netherlands has been a source of inspiration since we moved here, and we put our hats down to the dutch culture who introduced us to more underground electronic music. A few memorable nights from Job Jobse in Trouw, passing by Agoria in Whoosah to the DGTL festival, have been the tipping point where we found our scene. The Netherlands was the starting point of our electronic expedition.
Who do you count as big influences in the country?
The guys from DGTL really had a big influence in the dutch scene, as well as exporting the Dutch electronic music worldwide. They have introduced us to the festival scene. In terms of artists Joris Voorn, Tom Trago, Job Jobse are by far our favourite Dutch influences.
How important is it to you to mentor younger producers do you think? Did you have a mentor yourself?
We are lucky to have mentors such as our musical dad: Nicolas Masseyeff with whom we share our concerns, technical issues, feedback. Amr aka Fulltone with whom we have no shame in telling each other the straight truth. Our agent Shishi and Sebastien Devaud, aka Agoria, are often of great advice in our musical career. And of course, our parents, even though the electronic scene is a completely new world to them, you cannot beat the instinct your parents have for you. In The House of Klassified, we thrive to have a natural mentorship between the artists. To always ask for advice, feedback, be open for collaboration and learn from one another. We believe that great work usually comes from collective inputs.
Have you guys ever considered becoming anything else but musicians? Does it help that you have one another to help one another?
Even though we studied music from a young age, we both got a degree in different areas, Thomas did Business administration and Entrepreneurship and Julien studied Hospitality Management and Music Management. It is only after we both finished our studies that we decided to fully focus on music which was the best choice of our lives.
Having two brains does help a lot in the creative and management of our musical adventure, especially when it comes to touring, it is a blessing for our mental health to have each other.
Did you manage to produce a lot of new music in the pandemic? Was it difficult to get into the right frame of mind at the time?
We have been extremely productive during the pandemic, finishing our album (that was pending for 2 years), finishing several EPs and all our upcoming “A Day In ” episodes and we worked on two documentaries. On a personal side, that time allowed us to self-develop, to read a lot of books, and follow several masterclasses. We must say, it was quite a blessing.
It seems you’re as focused as much on non-electronic music as you are straight-up electronic. Do you feel this is a fair assessment? And would you ever consider making music outside of the electronic music field?
Spot on! We do like both non-electronic and electronic music equally and enjoy giving each other challenges such as making acoustic versions of previous electronic releases. But our main focus still remains on electronics. We love the combination of old meets new, jazz meets the sound of the future and most of all we love to mix world music with electronics. This is our upcoming conceptual album “A Day In”.
We love the combination of old meets new, jazz meets the sound of the future.
The expedition around the globe definitely moulds us in musical openness. Different countries, different periods of time with several influences are mostly illustrated with a specific sound. It is like a history book, but melodic. This is for us the most interesting and inspirational aspect of music and it has already brought us to work together with musicians from different cultures, such as Maalem Omar Hayat in Gnawa music (Morocco), El Venado Azul in Huichol music (Mexico), Páll Guðmundsson who crafted instruments out of native rock in Iceland, to name a few.
This is a direction we want to expand. When world music meets electronics.
Do you think the advancement of technology has necessarily been a good thing in electronic music? Has it become ‘too easy’ to produce new music? Do you think there are too many producers who haven’t learned their craft before they become full-time DJs?
Technology is creating endless possibilities and providing many tools to create the sound of the future. Plugs-in emulating analog synthesizers, and these same synths are becoming more and more efficient as well. We think it is a blessing!
Naturally with technological advancement comes a lot of business-model about making music production accessible to a wider range of people. Easier DAW, samples platforms, online courses, etc… At the end of the day, defining your music identity is the hardest, and even if having some music theory and knowledge helps the process, every artist has his/her own journey, there is no right or wrong, besides doing what makes you groove, what makes you funk, what makes you happy.
Do you approach DJing and producing differently? And do you always play back-to-back or do you DJ individually too? Do you have a structure in place when you play gigs then? Or is it generally just on the fly?
Our approach in composing a track or creating a set is the same, It’s all about story-telling. It starts with an intention and an environment and then we build a story around that. Since we propose three types of performance, it differs all the time. During the DJ-set, we play b2b, and in that case, it is prepared but depending on the crowd or the situation, we always adapt on the fly. During the hybrid set, Thomas is on the keys and mic and Julien on the decks, we do prepare and always leave room for improvisation. The live sets are structured beforehand, but we leave space for spontaneity too, especially when we play with the band.
On that note, who do you guys look to as an example of how to play a great b2b set?
Stavroz is definitely a band we look up to when thinking about band performance. Who Made Who for the hybrid and the Keinemusik crew for their B2B.
Following a period of reflection, do you think the electronic music scene will learn from the pandemic? Or do you think it’s back to normal in some ways?
We don’t think it will ever be the same, the pandemic has changed something primordial in our society. Hopefully, most people learned from it. We believe it created a sense of oneness and unity since the whole world was affected by the same issue. It probably taught a lot of people to become more respectful of each other and more understanding. In that sense, we hope that the event world will propose more immersive and sustainable events. Music-wise, we can already see that the pandemic has brought a lot of creativity. We are expecting to hear a lot of insanely good music in the coming months!
What do you love and what do you despise about the ‘scene’ in general?
The ultimate pleasure of being a performing artist beyond discovering new cultures is to make people dance, that is the most rewarding feeling ever! But who says dance-floor also says the dark side of nightlife with non-sustainable events, irresponsible promoters, alcohol and another type of craziness.
Nonetheless, We believe the scene is improving, we see more eco-friendly events, more gender-equal line-up, more immersive feelings, professional promoters and more uplifting artists pushing each other up. Let’s take a walk on the bright side of the scene.
Tell us about your label, Klassified, and the idea behind it.
Klassified is a record label, production house and event company where we discover the unknown, reveal the untold and tell poetic human stories through music and visuals. We are a collective of artists that release conceptual albums, an artistic performance combining audio to visual. We opened The House of Klassified last year, which is our creative playground with three music studios, a visual editing studio and an art gallery that allow collaboration, guidance and all the tools to express musical stories. That pretty much sums up what it is about.
Is there a long-term plan in place for the label? Will we see other releases in 2022? And do you have music from other artists lined up too?
The launch of the Label’s new direction during ADE opened the first page of a myriad of musical tales.
In terms of music releases, we had our album ‘A Day At’ on the 11th of November, Mâhfoud & To Ricciardi new EP ‘Floating’ end December, Maga’s new album ‘Resona’ in the beginning of the year, followed by Joep Mencke, Fulltone, and Mathilde Marsal’s album in 2022. We will also release all the “A Day In” soundtracks and one LP next year so get your headphones ready cause it will be a busy musical year for sure!
Let’s of course talk about the album, which is a really virtuoso listen we must say. How did you dream up this concept? And was there ever a period where you hit a wall and were stuck for inspiration?
It started in 2017 when we were helping our uncle Jean-Claude in his leather factory, manufacturing belts. We were always amazed by the variety of melodic sounds during the manufacturing process, from small tools to big machinery. It quickly became the soundtrack to our day and the inspiration behind our very first song – The Factory.
We then decided to film and show the process of it and the reactions went viral! Since we had so much fun doing it, we started to explore more places where unexpected sounds became the centre of our musical pieces. A carpenter, a ski station, a supermarket, an airport, or a kitchen became our creative playground.
We were working on making it a conceptual album and the pandemic has actually given us the precious time to fully focus on making it a proper album to remember! We never were stuck for inspiration. It went like a nice wave. Plus we decided to invite Nicolo Ricci on Sax tenor, Alessandro Mazzieri on Base and Simone Cesarini on Guitar to push the organic and instrumental feeling of the album. Amr Khaled and his impeccable ear for mixing, and Precise Mastering for the master. Et voila!
Parallels’ debut LP, A. Day, At is out 11 November via Klassified Music. Buy/listen to the release here.
What do you think is the best approach when you can’t get inspired? Or does it generally always come together for you guys when you’re working together in the studio?
Creating has become a necessity more than an impulse. It is a release of emotions. The source of it comes from several triggers. Growing up in a musical family is definitely the starting point. Expeditions around the globe and meeting new cultures are such an ear-opener. The people you surround yourself with, the friend and love relationships, the artistic discussion with fellow musicians. Conceptual ideas are mostly the inspirational ground of our creative process.
When we were composing ‘A Day At’, the inspiration was constantly here. Recording your own sample is so inspiring, that we actually needed to channel our energy to not go in too many directions. The fact that we are two, play a major role in productivity, in the sense that when someone is tired or doesn’t feel too inspired, there is always another pair of ear and hands to continue the creative process.
A lot of the tracks here naturally seem to be worthy of the remix treatment. Is this something you’ve considered at all?
We wanted to make an album that you could listen to on vinyl at home, even though some tracks can definitely be played in clubs. But yes, we thought of making a DJ-friendly and remix album too, let’s see!
I noticed you also ran some awesome events, such as at ADE and your own festival. As well as the House of Klassified. How do you find the time to dedicate yourself to these pursuits alongside your own music?
Sometimes we ask ourselves the same question (chuckles) It has been a very hectic few years, trying to bring everything to maturity, between Parallells, the label, the studios and the events. But there is no secret: hard work, focus and consistency. We now have the pleasure to have Shanice working with us fully, which is taking a lot of responsibility off our shoulders. The label will welcome some of the most beautiful and funky tracks ever created, and we will throw more events in 2022. Stay tuned 😉
Finally, what’s put a smile on your face over the past few months?
The milestone of releasing our first album is definitely putting the biggest smile on our faces!