British singer-songwriter and Mercury Prize winner Arlo Parks visited New Zealand for the first time this week and found time to talk to Charlotte Ryan about life on the road.
His first studio album Collapsed in the rays of the sun was released in 2021 to critical acclaim. She chats with Charlotte about being successful at a young age, some special Glastonbury performances, and her friendship with the Kiwi singer, Lorde.
The 22-year-old’s debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, was released last year to critical acclaim – and most recently she took to the stage at Glastonbury with Lorde and Clairo for an impulsive collaboration.
“It feels like a landslide of special things,” Parks says. “I think mostly working on the record, promoting it and releasing it during the pandemic, and then finally being released to the world.
“I just arrived from Tokyo last night and I’m here now, able to see the world and perform for the people…I’m just giddy with the life I’ve lived and kind of going through it on the day of day.”
Despite his busy schedule, Parks and his band spent a week in Japan, which allowed him to do some record shopping.
“When I’m in a new place, I just look for little local artists and people I might not have heard of,” she says.
“And I just like to choose it from time to time depending on the cover, I certainly do a lot of it, but mostly it’s just building from the collection that my uncle gave me when I was a child.
“I love buying a physical of any album I like, new or old, and having it as a tangible thing.”
Her uncle’s gifted records—including Prince, Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, and some early hip hop—helped her develop a love for music and a connection to certain albums.
“I brought all those records home and that’s when I fell in love with the album format and the physicality.”
She now enjoys the experience of seeing the personal connection her fans have with her music.
“I think there’s a sense of comfort, I think it kind of reinforces my purpose,” she says.
“I loved making songs and the decision to share them came after that, and I think it reminds me how important it is to see music as something that’s both personal to me, but also as a gift to others.”
After playing in New Zealand, Arlo travels to Australia, then Europe and the United States – and she’s always looking for inspiration along the way, especially when people watching at airports or train stations.
“I tend to think of touring as a period of absorption,” she says. “I read a lot, I watch a lot of movies, I listen to a lot of podcasts, I listen to a lot of music, I just organize playlists in my head, I collect little nuggets of thoughts and when I’m not on tour, I actually go to the studio and put it down.”
While the singer has lived in London for a very long time, she currently lives in Los Angeles, amidst a thriving community of creative types.
“I think home is where your people are and finding all these people there just made me feel like maybe it was time for a change.”
Although she’s set to take a little break at the end of the year, Parks says it won’t be long before she’s back to work.
“I’m going to take some time to sit quietly, probably for a day or two because I’m very restless, and then start writing and creating and cooking again.
“I’m always working, I work 24/7. I think because I love what I do, it doesn’t feel like work, but it takes me every moment, especially when I travel a lot . .
“I think for me it’s just about continually trying to grow, continually being curious, never becoming complacent… I just want to make music and do things for the rest of my life, c That’s my real goal with all of this.”