The 20-year-old star on the rise opened up to Sophie Griffiths for the February issue of DIVA
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS, IMAGE BY ALEX KURUNIS
If you turned on the radio just once last year, you’re probably already familiar with Arlo Parks and her silky smooth vocals. She’s been labelled the voice of a generation, collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry and has just released her stunning debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, into the world. A music sensation at just 20, we couldn’t wait to get to know Arlo better.
Wanna find out more about what inspired the album, Arlo’s thoughts on sharing queer narratives or how she’s finding her sudden rise to fame? Well, you can find all of that and more in our February issue of DIVA, available now. Here’s some additional content before you get stuck in!
What does a day in the life of Arlo Parks look like right now?
It’s very hectic. Something that I enjoy about it is that I do something different every day. My days are properly full which which is perfect for me, because I’m definitely somebody that has quite a lot of restless energy. I love to be doing a million different things all at once.
How have you been taking care of yourself throughout lockdown?
Especially over this period, as it’s been quite busy for me in terms of work, I’ve had to make more of a conscious effort to slot self care into my schedule. I like meditating and having a long bath or putting on a record that I haven’t heard before. I try to do that almost every day. Small things like lighting candles, or calling a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while, going down to my dad’s allotment and just having a read. For me, it’s about having those moments of stillness in the chaos.
Do you go looking for new music a lot? Or do you think it finds you?
I’m looking all the time. Every single day I try and listen to something new. I find a lot of music on YouTube actually, just going down little YouTube wormholes and also asking friends to recommend albums.
Was the majority of Collapsed In Sunbeams written during lockdown?
Most of it was written and recorded during lockdown. That was an interesting experience. It was kind of a blessing in disguise because I managed to put myself in this bubble of the of the record and I had no other responsibilities. I could properly be introspective and reflect on exactly what it was I wanted to say.
People might relate to it a bit more because of the time that it was written and the fact that we’re all going through the same thing right now.
Yeah, I know what you mean. I think it’s gonna be interesting. My songs are time capsules of the environment in which I create them. I haven’t written directly about the pandemic, but that sense of introspection, that sense of sitting with yourself and becoming more self aware comes through.
Do you have a favourite song on the album?
Probably Hope, just because of the message of the song. It’s a song that really just came pouring out of me. For Violet as well. The way that I gauge my favourite is usually by how well I feel like I’ve encapsulated a feeling. With those two songs I feel like I managed to pin down and tackle quite complicated feelings.
Did you ever have any doubts about being so personal in your work?
There were doubts in my mind because I wanted to make sure I was exploring these topics in a way that was sensitive. I’m very careful about how I approach them and how I present them. But there was never a sense of it being too heavy or too difficult. I think art is one of the main ways that conversations open up and people can feel less alone.
Is your song-writing process private or do you share things as you go along?
I don’t send people songs. But I do definitely send poems and little bits of lyrics that I’ve put together. A lot of my friends are creative in one way or another so I do like bouncing things off of them. They give me feedback and it’s all very sweet and we’re all very encouraging.
How do you determine which pieces of writing are poetry and which have the capability to develop into a song?
When I write a poem I never know what it’s going to turn into. When I’m writing for the sake of it, maybe I’ll hear a chord progression and hear melodies that will remind me of a poem I wrote. It’s just about getting it on paper and having it in that format. I never go into it with intention.
Who were your queer icons growing up?
A big one is Frank Ocean and also Syd from The Internet. I think that collective especially, they just seem so free in what they’re doing and that queerness is just part of who they are, it was never explicitly the focus. Seeing somebody young and queer, making music that I also completely fell in love with and that reduced me to tears, was so inspiring to me. I just felt represented.
What song or album would you say saved your 2020?
I think this is quite easy for me because there’s one song I’ve been obsessed with this whole time and it’s You’re Too Precious by James Blake.
What other art, musical or otherwise, is inspiring you right now?
I’ve been reading Virginia Woolf lately, which I’ve been loving. In terms of music, there’s been a range. I’ve been DJing a lot at home, so a lot of techno. People are often surprised when I say I listen to techno.
What’s your goal for 2021? If there’s anything bigger you can achieve than putting out your debut album?
I’d love to play a show in a country that I’ve never been to before like Japan or Australia. I’d love to put out a book of poems and to get into acting, too. I have a lot of different goals but I think this year is mainly going to be about the album.
Collapsed In Sunbeams is out now. You can read the rest of our interview with Arlo Parks in the February issue of DIVA via the links below.
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