It’s often said that blood is thicker than water, and this is extremely true of brotherly duo, Parallells. Thomas and Julien have been producing music together for some time, and with killer results too — just as anyone who’s sampled their quite excellent jams. Produced with a real ‘rough and ready’ approach, their DIY ethos, firm refusal to compromise and conceptual side have undoubtedly showcases the guys as a production pairing of serious repute. Now based firmly in Amsterdam (and with a massively successful ADE behind them), as well as their brilliant debut LP, A. Day. At, set to drop on 11th November, we figured it a good time to put some questions to the guys. Rather refreshingly, their answers were every bit as excellent as their music too! Without further ado, our conversation with Parallells…
Deep House Amsterdam
How are you, what’s good and bad in your world?
All good, we survived ADE and this crazy year where, not only there was a world pandemic with almost no income, Thomas also broke his back. But we are back on track! We launched the House of Klassified, we announced the release of our album on the 11.11 with 11 tracks, and we are back on tour! Life is finally taking its flavour back!
How did you survive the pandemic and what did you learn about yourself?
It has been an introspective journey that led to a lot of creativity. The world being on hold has actually given us the chance to take a deep breath. And to tell you the truth, we needed this to clear our mind, to finish projects that were piling up and to start new adventures we were always keen on, such as creating Parallells and the band, rebranding and restructuring our label, and deepening our musical knowledge.
This album has an awesome concept… was it always the plan to do a concept album or did things just move organically this way?
It went super naturally throughout the years. 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 carpentry, 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 musical journey to remember! 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. Et voila !
Is there one track that’s more unique or different than the others do you think? Or that you’re particularly proud of?
All of the tracks have a profound story to tell, and we’ve been putting all our heart and soul into each of them. But surprisingly enough the last track of the album “to be continued” was originally composed for our cousin’s contemporary performance in the midst of finalising the album. We used a mixture of the recordings of all the tracks together and created a complete new universe. Little did we know, it would be such a profound Outro of the album. Slow tempo, a touch of weeping guitar by Simone, it still gives us goosebumps and god knows how many times we’ve listened to it !
Are we right in thinking you’re from France but based in NL now. Can you tell us a bit about what motivated the move?
We are actually Dutch! Our dad fell in love with our Italian/French mum in the South of France and never left (laugh). And a couple of years later, badaboum, two little boys came to this world between the Mediterranean sea and the Alps. Growing up there was pure bliss, but having half of our family in the Netherlands, we decided to move here to discover the other side of our roots. We studied here and never left! Julien lived in Den Haag and Thomas in Tilburg and Rotterdam, Amsterdam was the cherry on top, the city really caught our hearts. From its creativity to its organisation, to its people, it’s such a moving city that keeps on giving and inspiring us.
Also, does being brothers work in your favour when making music? Do you disagree on much or do you generally have similar music influences and tastes?
Actually many people often ask us how our relationship keeps on functioning and how we get along so well. There isn’t a secret recipe, but what we realised is that family is sacred and brothers are forever. Even with this in mind, the solution is to really listen to each other and talk frankly about disparities. Being indulgent and understanding of our personalities and going along with it. We focus on the things that matter and most importantly we thrive to push each other up. We do have common ground of taste but have our individual sound preferences, and finding the middle ground is actually the secret of our creations.
So who does what in the studio? Or do you have any set formula?
It depends on the project. There is no set formula about who starts but It usually begins with an idea or a jam together. What is always the case is that we split the work to be more efficient, and let each other fine tune the track. A bit like a painting where each of us has a brush in hand and adds a layer to the piece. We then discuss, edit, erase, Alt-Z, go forward, go back, let the song breathe, listen to it a couple of days after and come up with feedback. It is a long process, but it is always better to have two pairs of ears than one.
Can you tell me a bit about your history in electronic music? What was your first introduction to it?
We listened to Soulful and Deep House like Buddha bar, Hedkanti when we were in highschool but coming to the Netherlands in the early 2010s opened our appetite 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. This was the starting point of our electronic expedition.
You’re just off the back of this year’s ADE. How did it differ to other years? And can you tell us a bit about the parties you hosted while there?
It was a local one this year, but it didn’t change the fact that it was a rollercoaster! The House of Klassified was an official ADE venue, so we hosted a Greet & Meet on Wednesday for the launch of the new direction of Klassified. A masterclass with Bye Bye plastic about Music and Sustainability and several studio jams. We also threw our own showcase in Ijland with the Klassified resident artist on Friday and ended the week with the premiere of our live show with the band in WesterUnie for the Gardens of Babylon. Proper week !
Can you talk us through some of the other artists at the party and why you decided they’d join you?
It was a Klassified family gathering! Let’s take this occasion to update you with the next news about the artists that played in the Klassified Showcase! Maga’s new album is coming out beginning of 2022 together with a brass band from Guadalajara, Joep Mencke is releasing his album that will take you to another stratosphere with some secret collaboration, Mahfoud’s new album 30 days challenge will finally see the light and with a few EP’s before hand. Mathilde Marsal will make her first solo album with us and we will see our first album released “A Dat At” on 11.11.21 on Klassified. Abundance together with Rammo always rock it on stage! And our special guest was Patrice Baumel whom we adore and hopefully will release soon on the label too!
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
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 is such an ear opener. The people you surround yourself with, the friend and love relationships, the artistic discussion with fellow musicians, the conceptual ideas are mostly the inspirational ground of our creative process.
We feel blessed to have the possibility to express ourselves, to impact, influence and touch people around us. To increase their contemplation and acceptance of diversity by opening the mind to an unfamiliar yet inspiring musical world. I guess the chance to give harmony to humanity is the most profound impulse.
Also, can you tell us a bit about the label and your plans for it? Will it always just toast your work or is there plans to bring other artists on board?
The House of Klassified is a creative playground with three music studios, a production house and an art gallery that allow the search, the collaboration, the guidance and offer all the tools to express musical stories. The launch of the Label during ADE opens the first page of a myriad of musical tales. We are a collective of artists that release conceptual albums, artistic performance combining audio to visual and unfold the untold. Parallells is just one artist out of many more: Mâhfoud, Joep Mencke, Fulltone, Yarni, Maga, Fulltone, Vander and our new recruit is Mathilde Marsal, you will hear much more from her in the very near future!
Finally, can you talk us through three pieces of music or literature that heavily influenced you during the lockdown period?
We read so many books during lockdown, quite tough to pick three, but here it is:
Human Kind – Rutger Bregman gave us such an optimist view of humanity, especially in this period of time where most people lose faith in society.
The Four Toltec Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz; everyone should read this and keep these agreements in mind at all times, that would save a lot of energy!
Always have an impeccable speech
Never take things personally
Never make assumptions
Always do your best
40 rules of Love – Elif Shafak is such a beautiful book about the Sufi vision of love
We will finish this interview with a part of the book when Shams says:
“Don’t they see that all nature is singing? Everything in the universe moves with the rhythm, the pumping of the heart, the flaps of the bird wings, the wind on the stormy night, blacksmith working iron or the sound of an unborn baby inside the womb. Everything partakes passionately and spontaneously in one magnificent melody”
Keep up with Parallells on Facebook and Instagram. Parallels’ debut LP, A. Day, At is out 11 November via Klassified Music. Buy/listen to the release here.