From Berlin to Australia and now America, Berlin-based band Parcels is taking the electro-pop world by storm, collaborating with Daft Punk and finishing up its first North American tour. Next on its agenda is Coachella.
WLUW Music Director Carolyn Droke spoke with drummer Anatole “Toto” Serret and keyboardist Louie Swain ahead of their Seattle show March 6 to talk American culture, guilty pleasures and the weirdest item they’ve shipped in a parcel.
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Carolyn Droke: Any places surprised you in America?
Anatole “Toto” Serret: Atlanta really surprised me. We were in town for a festival last May [and] were walking down the street then turned a corner into a street of theater and comedy. It seemed like there was a queer scene also … It was surprising to be in the South and see a queer scene.
CD: We had some WLUW staff members out to your show in Chicago. Did you guys film a music video there?
Louie Swain: There’s one scene in a music video that we’re making that has to happen at a live show, so we just sprung it on the crowd in Chicago. For our encore, we just came out and set up cameras and filmed this dance.
AS: We had to rehearse it the whole day — how it was going to go down, the possibility of what the crowd was going to do and what would happen in a worst-case scenario. It turned out amazing. The crowd was really respectful but had amazing energy in the end. It was really worthwhile.
CD: You guys are playing Coachella this year. How do you guys feel about playing one of the largest festivals just after releasing your first LP?
AS: I don’t know how it happened.
LS: Coachella is a festival that everyone in the world wants to be playing.
AS: We pitched for them, and they accepted. [Laughs]
LS: It’s really a dream come true.
AS: I have an idea of what the festival is going to be like. I spoke with a friend who said the backstage area is basically where VIPs who have nothing to do with music can hang out. Like last year, Michelle Obama was there just hanging out.
CD: Tell me about some of your inspirations for Parcels.
LS: We tried to make it a culmination of everything that’s inspired us. We had been listening to a lot of Beach Boys, Doobie Brothers [and] West Coast hip hop. Lots of things. Everything we listen to as a band kind of makes its way into music eventually.
CD: Do you have any guilty pleasure music?
LS: I’ve been getting into a lot of female vocalists who have been shunned upon in history as being not very good. But we’re all guilty of bopping along to top-40 songs on the radio, like Halsey.
CD: I’m curious to hear why your songs don’t have any spaces in [your song titles].
LS: We’ve been doing that in all of our songs since the beginning. It was originally because Patrick’s space bar on his Mac was broken. So we did that the first time.
AS: And then it kind of became a superstition for us that we always had to do. We are very superstitious. We like rituals.
CD: What are some of those pre-show rituals?
LS: [Immediately] We don’t talk about that.
AS: We have one very complex one. The specifics can’t be known.
CD: What’s the inspiration behind your band name Parcels?
AS: [It] was supposed to be Par Cells, but then the space bar was still broken.
LS: Par Cells, like your grandparents’ cells.
CD: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve shipped in a parcel?
LS: I shipped myself an Italian espresso machine from Sydney back to Berlin. It was made in Italy, somehow imported to Sydney. Then I bought it in Sydney traveling over there [and] shipped it back to Europe.
AS: I don’t know. I saw a friend last night playing at a show in Vancouver. He said he didn’t have a phone or an email address, so he told me his address and told me to send him a letter. As I was writing down his address, I thought to myself that I really haven’t sent anything in the mail to someone in years.
LS: I think we have a deep mistrust for the postal service in Berlin. We were living in places we weren’t officially registered to, so we would often times just not receive our packages.
CD: You’ve been on the road for the past few months. What’s something you’ve learned while touring?
LS: I love my bed. You’ve caught us at the bitter end of a long tour. Toto gets up pretty early. Do you get up early in normal life?
AS: Not really. When I’m alone in bed and wake up, there’s no reason to stay there. When we’re on the bus, I wake up a bit claustrophobic and feel the need to get up and put water on my face and brush my teeth. I’m pretty quick to wake up. Once I’m awake I need [to get a] coffee and get going.
LS: You just realize what’s important to you when your house is a bus. You learn what kind of breakfast you need to start your day.
AS: I realized I always bring way too many clothes and I never wear them.
LS: Yeah, you wear the same thing every day.
AS: I’ve learned that I plan for way more than I should.
CD: Have you been reading anything good?
LS: I’ve just finished a good Malcolm Gladwell book about snap decisions. Toto, you should read it actually.
AS: I just got a Netflix account, so I haven’t been doing much reading.
LS: I’ve also been reading some books by a young Irish woman named Sally Rooney. It’s really refreshing to not read something written by a rich white American dude.
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Parcels’ music is available to stream on all platforms.