In Conversation With:
Hailing out of West London, p-rallel burst onto the scene as a DJ who wasn’t afraid to challenge the local sound. He quickly became the go-to producer for London's alt-rap scene leaders, and has held down tour DJ duties for artists including Jeshi and Lava La Rue. His diverse musical interest as a kid has merged into a love of sourcing new talent in the modern day, as p-rallel works with British talent from across several genres. Boasting almost 500k monthly listeners on Spotify, he is well on his way to defining a new British wave. In the lead up to his new mixtape ‘MOVEMENT’, we caught up with the producer and DJ in our east London studio, where we spoke on early influences, Elevation Meditation and his new EP.
George: Let’s start from square one. You grew up in Hammersmith, any significant memories from those times outside of music?
p-rallel: Probably youth clubs and stuff like that. Just constantly being around new people, different people my age around the area, it built me into who I am as a person. Being tight with other people, just vibing. That’s built me the most.
I find with youth clubs, they’re the spaces that allow people to come into their own. There’s no discrimination or anything that makes people feel like they can come in and what they’re doing is wrong.
Everyone is just mad young just trying to have fun.
Have you got one you remember in particular?
Yeah the White City Play Centre is probably the biggest one I can think of. It had this big adventure playground I remember well.
So while you were growing up, outside of music, what were the things that piqued your interest? What did you see yourself starting to get into as a kid?
Dancing and music took a lot of my time as a kid, I was doing everything. Steel bands, everything creative. We live in a creative world.
Were there explicit events you felt really shaped you while you were at that age? Was there an explicit moment which made you think that music was something you wanted to carry on doing?
Maybe just meeting up with Elevation. Going to the studio, chilling, coming up with ideas and planning the future. When I met them, I knew what I was doing.
Planning the future at an early age then, you had your mind set on what you wanted to do?
Yeah man. I remember there was one time we were watching Boiler Room, and we said we need to do our own one. And then, we actually did it a couple years later. We were just speaking everything into existence.
Were your parents supportive of you diving head-first into music?
Yeah they were down. I was always out the house doing things, so they grew accustomed to it!
There was never that calling like, “you’ve gotta come home now?”. I always felt like my parents always thought I was getting up to trouble when I was younger. It’s like “I’m just trying to go out and do something!”
Nah, it was cool man. I never really got into trouble.
Your first real work in music was as an engineer right?
Yeah kind of. I was at Lily Allen’s studio, ended up there for a random session an artist did a twitter call out for, Theo was running Bank Holiday Records from the studio, he put me at the back and I just took in whatever I could at the time. Eventually, they trusted me to use the studio my own stuff. So there I got into making more music, and focusing on the releasing side of music, not just DJ’ing.
Did you feel that the learning process from the testing and trying and your dance roots have shaped you as an artist today?
Definitely. I’m always trying new things, man.
Has there been anything that you’ve turned around and said ‘this isn’t for me?’
Not really, not off the top of my head. Through DJ sets, I built my character, it’s there that you really work out who you are as a person, what you like and what you don’t like.
I think I learned that a lot of people see you as a free artist, that a lot of the music you make has air to it, like there’s a lot of freedom to it for you as a character and an artist. We’d call them quirks in how you’ve developed and evolved. What were those first things you developed and bent to be a power of yours?
I guess not producing for other people and just producing for myself. Focusing on myself, no one really does it. I think that was my pocket, where I thought “yeah, this is for me”.
Were there any moments during those early stages where you felt like you had people around you supporting you? Who held you down the most?
Elevation Meditation. We were sticking together, helping each other out. We still do to this day.
“Through DJ sets, I built my character, it’s there that you really work out who you are as a person, what you like and what you don’t like.”
I think you guys have a fascinating relationship, which transcends friendship and work, where you aren’t so attached to each other that you belong as a group, you’re so independent. Yet, when you put yourself in formation, you create something that bounces. The power of a group is fascinating. Is that something you envisioned from an early stage?
Not really. We all kinda stumbled upon it, that we would drop something together at some point. But it’s not at the top of our list at the moment. Once everyone’s got their projects or first albums out, that’s probably the best time. It’s always been part of the plan for everyone to do their own thing.
Who have been those characters in your group that have paved the way for you on a personal level?
My manager, really. He’s lived it, been there. He understands the music a lot, he’s the best person that understands what I’m doing and how we’re going to do it moving forward.
Do you guys go back further than the music?
Nah not even. He wasn’t managing me from the start, we just connected & then the relationship grew into that, but I kinda always knew he was the guy.
I see collaboration as a big part of your music. Do you feel like you create differently with others?
Every session is different, so is every beat. We just build the flow, every day is a different feeling. There’s no point sticking to one way, collaborating just makes the job fun. We get to experience other people’s way of working, pick up things that you like and maybe apply it to your own thing. We’re very young, this is probably the best time to be collaborating. To keep learning.
Your “Forward” EP was collab-driven. Where did the name come from?
Just moving forward in life. That was all. An extension of energy, time, just keeping moving.
I see the spine running through this is ‘time’, chronology in a sense. Is that something that is a subtle Easter egg?
Kind of, time is a very subjective thing for me. I find it interesting. I can certainly see that as an Easter egg, I guess you’re right.
Are you scared of time?
It’s more of a power than something to be afraid of, right?
Exactly. Somethings you just can’t learn, it's not a man-made thing.
With drum n bass, it feels like an extension of time with a lot of electronic tracks. You feel like you can almost last forever, when the track loops it’s kind of meditative, right? Do you find you enjoy music as an active thing, or meditative?
I don’t know. I couldn’t really say, I just do it.
Your last track “I Know”, did you spend a lot of time making it by yourself?
Nah, I started with those vocals on something else and took it away to turn it into something very different. I went to Jakwob with it & he helped finish it. Then we released it.
That’s such an interesting artist to work with, he’s such a heritage artist of the early dubstep days. You’re such a genre-bender, are your influences pulled from everywhere?
Yeah I grew up on a lot of music, I was inspired by a lot of different music.
Is there anyone in particular that made you want to do a particular type of music?
Nah. No one… I guess Michael Jackson. I grew up on a lot of that, that was a big condition to how it is now. Maybe Timberland too.
“We’re very young, this is probably the best time to be collaborating. To keep learning.”
With collabing, is there a memory that sticks out to you that kept you wanting to explore that route more? It was only in 2022 that Forward came out.
Every session we collaborate is fun, makes you want to keep doing it. Most times we just enjoy sitting down with each other, but “I’m so High” was pretty fun to make.
How important is the relationship between you and the other artists during these sessions?
Pretty important. You’ve gotta make sure you set an environment that’s easy to create in.
Is there a moment in that exploring stage where you’ve built something and decided you need someone else?
Yeah, deffo. Loads of times. There’s always a producer I can think of that can help.
Are there signature attributes that you know people need p-rallel for?
More time, Melody, Fun & Energy.
Is there something that you think you’re missing? Something you want to grind towards?
I’d love to get on stage at festivals at some point, come out from behind the decks & build into that next storyline of my performing.
From the outside world, it’s like every artist believes they want to move into something else. But everyone else feels like they’ve got it locked down. It’s a never-ending pursuit. Those transitions are clear with your style, like “Forward”, it’s a fascinating style, the soul you make really connects that together. Do you listen to your own music?
I like hearing it in my own time, but it’s weird if I go out and hear my own music.
You mentioned storylines and narratives for the next phase. How important is writing the book on what that next chapter is?
Pretty important. It takes time to sort out, and get an understanding of what I’m doing. There’s no rush, I’m taking my time doing side missions and all that stuff.
Are there any moments you really want to capture?
The character of what p-rallel is will be the next step, I really want to keep building what the public is getting on the outside, there’s more to come & lots to do.
We saw you at The Colour Factory, you let loose, you become a lot freer in front of the decks, right?
I’ve always done that on stage, it’s easier to do it there than behind a screen.
Is there something that you want to channel across? Can you share where that character is going? Or is it behind closed doors for now?
Yeah, I couldn’t really tell you. I don’t put too much attention on it, I just do my thing & let it come naturally.
“I’d love to get on stage at festivals at some point, come out from behind the decks & build into that next storyline of my performing.”
With the next project coming out, is there an underlying story you want to bring through?
It's a project for the clubs it’s an extension of Forward & Soundboy, heavily influenced by the clubs & festivals I’ve been playing at since the pandemic.
Is it another time related project?
(Laughs) Yeah, I guess so!
Has it got a name?
I’m not sure if we’ve released the name… It’s called Movement.
So it does have a time theme to it! It does seem like there’s a consistent onward notion there. Is there a destination though?
Don’t think so. Don’t really see a destination, haven’t thought of one. I just focus on what I’m doing next.
With performing in the manner that you do, channelling the energy in the crowd with these songs, that journey is translated while you’re performing. How does it feel to bring those people along with you?
Fun. I couldn’t do it by myself so you’ve gotta make a team out of it, make them part of the story.
So with the world you’re performing in, the intensity of it, is there any time you feel you need to take a step away?
Yeah, when you get a chance too. Just go on holiday!
But doesn’t the world of music follow you about?
Of course, it’s my life. It’s not just a job.