THE excellent Alex Parvenu...
has been telling me about his new single, It Wasn’t Me, and what its story is. I ask which artists and albums have made an impact on him; which rising musicians we need to watch out for – he reveals plans and ambitions for 2019.
Parvenu talks about his approaching E.P., Blue Summer, and tells me which artist he’d support on tour given the chance; the advice he would give to artists emerging and how he relaxes away from music – he ends the interview by selecting a great song.
Hi, Alex. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey. I’m good, not too bad thanks. My week has been alright; I mean, I’m trying to live my life like it’s golden but, right now, it’s sort of bronze, so you know...but I’m alive; that’s the most important part.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure thing! I’m Alex, the parvenu; also known as ‘Alex Parvenu’; also known as ‘Mr. Contemporary Soul’, A.K.A. ‘MC Aleco’; A.K.A. ‘Roots, Rock, Reggae’; ‘Mr. in Slow Motion’; also known as the ‘Black Bohemian’ and sometimes referred to as ‘Mr. It Wasn’t Me’.
It Wasn’t Me is your latest track. I assume it wasn’t inspired by the Shaggy track?! What is the tale behind your song?
I love the Shaggy and Rikrok record but, no, my ‘It Wasn’t Me’ tells a completely different tale. Musically, it was inspired by Motown classics - most notably My Girl by The Temptations. Lyrically, it’s about falling in love with somebody, but their family; their parents, particularly their father, doesn’t approve of you or your perceived influence on their kin.
Blue Summer is out next year. What might we expect from the E.P.?
Yes it is - and I’m excited to finally put out a body of work. You can expect some contemporary Soul; some Roots-Reggae; a little Hip-Hop and a young, black man from London wearing his heart on his sleeve. And, while I’m definitely excited about putting out Blue Summer, I’m even more excited about the body of work that’s coming out after that and new collaborators I’m working with.
Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?
I grew up listening to whatever my dad was playing...so, Paul Simon, Fela Kuti; Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin; Peter Tosh, James Brown – all great artist, playing with live bands. Being a kid in the '90s, meant that I was exposed to the biggest records and artist of the day: TLC, Spice Girls; Fugees, Lauryn Hill; Tupac, Big; Michael Jackson and OutKast. I’ll say their work is all interwoven somewhere in my musical D.N.A. In my late-teens, I was listening to Amy Winehouse, Kanye; Mos Def; Talib Kweli and John Legend.
I guess I also revisited more vintage records made by The Temptations, Curtis Mayfield; Donny Hathaway, Chaka Khan etc. Contemporary artist I’m excited about are Solange, CeeLo Green; André 3000, Raphael Saadiq; Leon Bridges and Jah9. If I had to narrow the list of musical influences down, I would probably go with Lauryn Hill, the Fugees; Paul Simon, Bob Marley and the Temptations.
Did your family encourage your musical talents? When did you get into music?
Unfortunately, I can’t say they did...although my love for music was definitely inspired by dad’s taste in music and the fact he was an aspiring pianist. Both my mum and dad pushed academia; they did this with love, so I’m not mad at them. I can’t help but wonder sometimes, if I had their support behind my musical endeavours, how much of a difference this would have made. This is something that can’t be changed, so I’m not holding a grudge but it will be important for me when I have my own kids to ensure I encourage the things they are passionate about.
Obviously, one must exercise tact and discretion here, but if you’re able to support your children’s dreams, goals and aspirations, they grow up with a confidence and a self-absurdness that is unparalleled. I’ve been into music and around music for as long as I can remember. My parents tease me all the time about how obsessed I was with Paul Simon’s Graceland album, which I guess my dad was playing a lot when I was a kid.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
It Wasn’t Me has two more versions which we’re putting out…
Essentially, they’re remixes but, because they’ve been produced by solid producers I like to call them Part II and Part III. Chevi JReid produced Part II. He’s best known for producing Chun-Li and Barbie Tingz for Nicki Minaj and Rory Stone Love, from legendary Jamaican sound system Stone Love, produced Part III. I’m going to be doing more work with these guys in 2019 so I’m hyped about that.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Oh, so many but, right now, the first thing that comes to mind is the first time I connected with Tom Elmhirst. This was before he moved to N.Y., so he was working out of Metropolis Studios in London. He had heard one of my demo records and invited me down to Metropolis and asked me to bring more of my music. I remember being in awe as he took a break from mixing a Florence and the Machine record to listen to my stuff; seeing him rock back and forth to my music playing through the studio monitors was a magical moment for me.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Paul Simon’s Graceland
Because this is the first music I remember hearing; I don’t remember life without this album. My parents say, as a baby, I wouldn’t get in the car unless they had the tape playing.
Secondly would have to be Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Because this was a defining moment for me as a kid. All my friends were listening to Craig David or Another Level...or whatever else we young kids were listening to at the time. But I, for whatever reason, took a liking to Lauryn Hill and used my pocket money to buy The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It was the first record I ever bought. And it became the soundtrack to my growing up. I never understood the lyrics then as I do now, as an adult, but that record is a true celebration and amalgamation of genres I love: Soul, Hip-Hop; Reggae...all fused together with stellar musicianship and great lyricism.
As for number-three; I can’t choose a third as there are too many other albums to choose from that I love - but Graceland and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill definitely left their unparalleled mark on me.
As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?
I think now, as an adult, if I wanted something (a gift), I’d just go and buy it myself. The best part about receiving presents is definitely the spontaneity of it all and the thought that goes behind a gift. However, if I had to make one Christmas wish, I would wish I could feel how I felt last Christmas: being in love during Christmas is magic to the nth-degree.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Well. Lauryn Hill is always touring. I think it would be dope to support her and the Jay-Z and Beyoncé tour, OTR II, looks incredible.
As for my rider; I’m pretty easy-going. Loads of fresh fruit and veg, healthy snacks and a kettle and a teapot. I’d try and keep all other tempting beverages and stuff away as ‘moderation’ isn’t a word in my dictionary.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Keep an eye on my website and my social media (@alexparvenu). 2019 dates will be published on there.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Focus on making incredible music. expect nothing and appreciate everything.
IN THIS PHOTO: Tara Harrison
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Yea. Check out Tara Harrison. I’m loving her vibe.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Absolutely. Music is just one facet of my creativity; I’m writing a children’s book and a memoir, so those pieces are keeping pretty busy. I also enjoy long walks; sometimes I do up to ten miles a day – walking definitely helps to clear my mind.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Thanks, okay. So, I’m going to select Bob Marley & The Wailers – (Baby We’ve Got a Date) Rock It Baby, because it has special meaning to me and reminds me of somebody who was special to me
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