Arlo Parks on Phoebe Bridgers, Frank Ocean collab and new album My Soft Machine

Arlo Parks on Phoebe Bridgers, Frank Ocean collab and new album My Soft Machine
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    Arlo Parks wants to collaborate with Frank Ocean and Burial on future tracks and has decided she's just going to "manifest it".

    The 23-year-old indie songstress is soaking up the festival season after dropping her dazzling third album, My Soft Machine, back in May.

    She just joined Holly Humberstone on the main stage at Reading Festival over the weekend and braved the rain for her own set at the festival.

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    Before that, she charmed Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire and Way Out West in Sweden's Gothenburg, her European tour kicking off in Dublin next month.

    But it was backstage at Sziget Festival in Budapest where the Grammy-nominated singer sat down with Daily Star's Sam Huntley to chat about everything from her latest tracks to first dates and superpowers.

    How are you finding Sziget?

    “I feel good! We just got in yesterday from Sweden because we were playing Way Out West. We’re coming to the tail-end of the festival season. Then when we were out there sound-checking. It’s one of the biggest stages I’ve ever been on, probably in my life. I looked it up and the capacity is 60,000, which is pretty crazy, so I’m excited.”

    Any acts you want to catch while you’re here?

    “I saw there was Baby Queen playing, Mumford and Sons are playing after me. My friend Kelly Lee Owens played last night at 3am, my friend Ella from Lorde is playing… all of my friends are sprinkled throughout this festival so I’m going to try and run and hang out with everyone. I like how diverse the line-up is. It’s cool.”

    Congrats on the new album [My Soft Machine]. There’s a bit of rock on Devotion. Is that something you want to try more of in the future? Or any other genres that you’d like to give a go?

    “Yeah, I think for me it always happens quite organically. Even with Devotion, I didn’t necessarily go into the album making process being like, ‘This is something I want to pursue more’. I guess I was having a nostalgic moment in the car, almost, with my mates.

    “We were listening to like Weezer and Smashing Pumpkins and capturing that feeling and that sense of angst and distorted guitars brings such a specific kind of mood. I thought that was the only instrument that could do justice to this feeling.

    “That’s often how I go into new spaces where I’m like, ‘Okay, I need to experiment or do something new and justify this new feeling,' and that happens naturally.

    Would you say the way you write songs has changed in the last couple of years?

    “I don’t know. I think the way that I write songs has always been quite consistent, especially the lyrical side of it and the storytelling has always been something that I do in quite a solitary way, but I do think that moving to LA and working with other people and opening myself up to experimenting and to other peoples’ wisdom and other peoples’ processes has kind of moulded mine. But I’m definitely a creature of habit, I don’t think I’ll ever change it too much.”

    Do you have any advice for singer-songwriters like myself who are disorganised and will write songs then leave them in their voicenotes?

    “I’m also very disorganised! I always do the same thing with my voicenotes, but the way for me that I pick what songs to finish is that sense of that song that’s spinning around in the back of your head and that you keep returning to in some way.

    “I feel like if you write a song and you completely forget about it, it probably means it’s not quite right for now, but if there’s randomly something that pops into your head, I think trusting that and knowing that you never really know when it’s finished. You know when you can just like feel it. No-one’s gonna tell you, ‘Okay, it’s done, it’s perfect’.

    “I feel like everyone is kind of waiting for that pat on the head like where you’re like ‘Oh okay, it’s done now. You just have to do it to your best and when you actually put it out it actually frees up space for you to make something from scratch, completely new that you can relate to more. I think it’s just like getting it as good as you can in that moment, putting it out and getting that sense of momentum, moving forward. That’s how I do it, really.”

    How’s the response been to these songs? Are there any tracks on the album that surprised you in terms of how well they’ve done?

    “I feel like for me, the moments. like Devotion for example, where I felt people might be taken aback or felt it was a really big left turn, people did just embrace that I was doing something different.

    "So I think releasing that and Weightless and stuff and that peoples’ expectations of me were a lot more flexible than I had thought maybe. And feeling that being quite elastic, and people just adapting to the fact that I love music so much that I’m always going to be going left, right and all over the place.

    "So I think generally people accepting the album with open arms and change was nice.”

    Would you say your confidence has grown as a performer over the last couple of years?

    “Yeah! I think so. The more you do something, the more you can really sit in just performing. I talked to my friend about it, he’s an actor, it’s that sense of when you know the lines perfectly, that’s when you have space to actually act and improvise and just be free in it.

    “Because I just know every note, I’ve done it hundreds of times, so now I’m just free and I don’t have to think about that. I can just be completely expressive and that feels good.”

    If you could go and talk to your 18-year-old self, what would you tell them?

    “I guess I would say, all the sense of doubt, the sense of not quite knowing if things are gonna work out is just part of that process. And to savour the time that you have where you’re working and nobody’s really listening, because that’s when you actually get good at what you do and you can make mistakes without having everyone’s eyes on you.

    “Just to keep going. I wouldn’t try to change my trajectory. Especially when you’re that age you feel so tender and so uncertain about what your place in the world is and being an artist feels like this impossible dream. Part of getting there is having those moments where like nobody really cares, and that sounds mean but nobody really has their eyes on you so you can just be creative and be hungry and build a little world for yourself and yeah, just work hard I guess.”

    Have you had a chance to step back and enjoy these songs as a listener?

    “Hmm, I don’t know if it’s ever possible because obviously I’ve made the song, and then there’s the recording process and then there’s like the mixing process, and te mastering, and by the end I’ve just listened to it so many times…

    “I do think that sometimes, like ‘Oh imagine if I could listen to my music but have complete amnesia and come to it with fresh ears as I do with songs that I fall in love with, but it’s impossible!”

    If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

    “To be able to teleport, because I’m always late and I just want to go wherever I want. I just want to go to the beach for like five minutes. A little tiny swim.

    I’d have to have a cool-down period because I’d use it too often…

    “That’s true. I would definitely abuse my power.”

    Advice for someone going on a first date?

    “Ooh, gosh! General advice. I think the best advice you can have is that you do just have to be completely yourself, because if you go there trying to be different or whatever, even if that person ends up liking you, they don’t know the real you.

    “There’s nothing better than clicking with someone that likes the weird things about you that only you cared about or only you knew about. I think that’s when you really gel with someone.

    “And just like be honest! All these games and stuff just goes out the window when you really like someone.”

    Your dream collabs? I know you worked with Phoebe Bridgers on this album.

    “I have like several different answers for different reasons. I really like the idea of meshing with a genre that is outside of my own. Doing something with like Burial or like Jamie XX, do you know what I mean? Something in the electronic or dancy world.

    “In terms of my all-time favourites I do think something with Frank Ocean would be amazing. Like Frank Ocean, Tyler and that Odd Future world was everything to me when I was growing up. I was so inspired by them growing up.”

    With collabs, you want to get the best out of yourself and the best out of the other artist, but I guess you can also use it as a chance to explore…

    “Even when you think about Phoebe [Bridgers], the fact that she can be on a song with The National and Taylor Swift, but also can do Kid Cudi, I think you can bring different facets of yourself to collaborations. I think it’s a space to be playful, because you are singing over chords that you’d never choose yourself or singing over production that has someone else’s taste.

    “Burial would be so good… manifest it! Are you listening?”

    It's the 30th anniversary of Sziget next year and there will be a flash sale starting at 7pm BST on Thursday 17th of August 2023 until 7pm (BST) on Saturday 19th of August via

    2024 Ticket Early Bird prices:

    • 6 days general admission at 239€
    • 6 days VIP at 459€
    • 6 days for 21 year olds & under at 179€
    • Instalment plans are also available

    Sziget festival will come back to the Island of Freedom, Budapest between the 7th – 12th of August 2024.

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