Self-Portrait: p-rallel

Music has been an intrinsic part of West London producer and DJ p-rallel‘s life from an early age. Growing up with parents who were active in the capital’s night life scene as well as learning jazz piano and steel pans during his childhood, it’s no wonder this passion soon became a vocation.

At only 21 years of age he’s already got a string of accolades and releases under his belt; from holding down a monthly slot at NTS Radio and a residency at Phonox to touring with both slowthai and Lava La Rue as their DJ, not to mention collaborating with a wealth of artists on his releases – the likes of Lord Apex, Sam Wise and Greentea Peng.

Following the release of his latest Soundboy EP, we chat to him about his approach to production and he delivers a mix of unreleased beats, tracks and instrumentals that move through hip hop, soulful electronics and leftfield club music.

Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?

Started playing Jazz piano when I was six, started dancing at nine, and was part of a steel pan group (CSI) when I was like 12/13.

Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?

Yeah, my Dad is a multi-genre DJ who had a residency at Plan B (where I’m now a resident at the renamed Phonox), and my Mum used to throw parties. So it’s definitely in the blood.

What led you into music production?

My last dance performance with Boy Blue Entertainment was in 2015 at The Barbican. The whole training for that consisted of our producer ‘Mikey J’ creating the music, whilst we rehearsed in the studio and I just found that maddd so I wanted to pursue something like that. On top of that, our choreographer (who I called my Sensei) was working with the Olympic Games, dancing in music videos, adverts and created his own martial arts themed show ‘The Five and The Prophecy of Prana”. After all this I just knew I wanted to somehow be that guy, but the focus was creating music.

Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?

Michael Jackson, Timbaland, Darkchild, Moodymann, Kaytranada… There’s a lot tbh.

Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?

Smoke a joint. If I’m with new artists, we gotta sit for like an hour and just chill and talk.

Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?

I know what I wanna make, but I allow myself to go left if the vibe is right.

Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?

Sketches for days. I never finish a beat unless I know exactly what it’s doing. I could pull up an idea from 2016 and still make it work, in fact I think Western has been an idea from late 2018/early 2019.

Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?

Chords or drums first to set the mood, then melodies – sometimes with my guitarist Mikayl Dawood.

How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?

Anything I’ve released hasn’t got samples in it unless it’s like a percussion loop or splice loop. The stuff in the vault has a couple of samples here and there but that’s mostly just practise music, never to be released. 

What are the most important bits of kit that make a p-rallel track?

Soulful chords, grooooovy baseline and a soul-touching melody.

This mix is composed of 100% original p-rallel material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?

I’ve added a lot of rough beats in here, a couple of instrumentals and some unreleased stuff, as well as the beats I rarely give away to my friends ahahah.

Congratulations on your recent EP Soundboy. Can you talk us through the production process on one of the tracks?

I really can’t remember how I’ve made any of my songs. It’s like my mind is blank, I blackout when I produce and just come out the other end like “oh, ok”. The Soulboy song was made with my guitarist, we just sat there trying to figure out the most important bassline we could make and then everything just pieced together after that.

Anything on the horizon for you? Any more releases we should know about?

One or two more EPs before we move to album mode and that’s something I intend to take seriously. I wanna travel the world, meet instrumentalists and just create something amazing. p-rallel will definitely have his own band and be touring by 2025.

Studio photo credit: Jack Cullis.

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