Parcels: Can We Do Next Day Air to Australia?
The small basement club had set up an impromptu VIP area, complete with champagne and red velvet rope. Patrick Hetherington couldn’t even begin to guess who it was for. His band, Parcels, was lined up to play. It was their first show in France, ever. It was one of their first shows period.
“We were like, ‘What is this? Who is this for?’” Hetherington says. He’s in his Berlin flat, fresh off a small French tour. “And we heard word that maybe the Daft Punk guys were coming.”
Parcels, made up of Patrick Hetherington, Louie Swain, Noah Hill, Jules Crommelin, and Anatole Serret, formed in Australia, but quickly relocated to Berlin. Things started moving quickly for the outfit. “We were pretty amazed from the start about the response to like these little songs we were producing for the first time,” Hetherington says. “I kind of emailed them out to a lot of blogs and did our own little press release and we got a really cool response at first, so it was a great start.”
From Australia to Berlin, and now in a Parisian basement, Parcels found themselves face-to-face with Daft Punk. Straight up gatekeepers.
“We didn’t really believe it,” Hetherington says. It was too much to take in. They just focused on playing the show.
Daft Punk signed them immediately, and in mid-2017 Parcels released their single “Overnight”, produced by the electro superstars.
“It was crazy,” Hetherington says. “We were learning so much every day, and pinching ourselves at this experience, and just the way that they talk about music was a lifetime of education in a week.” As of now, “Overnight” has more than 24 million plays on Spotify.
“Overnight” sounds like it could come straight off of Random Access Memories, Daft Punk’s last record, a summer-pop, disco-guitar dreamscape filled to the brim with high-profile features. The guitar tone is specifically reminiscent of “Lose Yourself To Dance”, and that sound seems to have followed Parcels to their debut album.
In April of 2018, Parcels dropped “Tieduprightnow”, the first single from their upcoming self-titled album. It’s an instant summer jam—highly crafted but casual, catchy but relaxed. Where Overnight feels like it was produced by, well, robots, “Tieduprightnow” sounds like it was produced by people. The bass sounds like a person is playing it. The groove is a little more round. You can picture the five of them playing it in the studio, nodding to each other, smiling to themselves. It’s a good time.
“We’re trying to make pop music,” Hetherington reminds me. “We love the idea of pop music as something that makes people feel something, in the broad definition. But, we’re not doing it in an overly commercial or highly funded or over-exaggerated way.”
Here, Parcels finds themselves in a new and frankly very Los Angeles state of mind as they hone their pop image. Parcels’ entire brand is air tight, from guitar tones to graphic design to the lore of working with Daft Punk. Their sound is ‘70s disco funk, but their look is ‘60s Beach Boys—the music video for “Tieduprightnow”, for example, shows them driving around an Australian beach in a retro teal convertible. So much of the pop aesthetic is about these highly refined brand images, and we are living in a time where small bands can cultivate these packages by themselves, cheaply and effectively. Parcels does this easily, and it has nothing to do with Daft Punk. Their own website says it: “Parcels started for us as a new experimentation in image and sound…” Eventually, after moving to Berlin and finding a musical voice, they had “something to play with for the imagery surrounding it.” For Parcels, the music and the image are inextricably linked. They may have gotten a big assist from Daft Punk, but their debut album is self-produced. It’s within their own image. And it works.
“It’s the first time we’re really happy with the result of our own production,” Hetherington says. “It’s something we’ve never achieved before and we’re really proud of this.”
Parcels followed “Tieduprightnow” with another single, “Bemyself”. Next came “Lightenup”, another plucky ‘70s summer jam. Together, the three singles crossed 10 million listens on Spotify. This all came in anticipation of their just-released self-titled debut album, which they are touring through this year and into 2019.
They’ve already sold out a few cities, including Los Angeles. “When we’ve played in LA,” he tells me, “the crowd was so receptive and really tuned-in to the subtitles of the funk. You can really feel the crowd like getting every little change that we make and stuff, in LA. So I’m excited to play there again.”
And why wouldn’t LA understand Parcels? They’re underground pop. They’re an entire aesthetic unto themselves. It’s trying something new in an old form, which is a vibe LA exists on. They’re also the real thing. The brand isn’t a blatant lie or grab, it’s a synthesis of who these guys are. They’re genuine.
Of the new album, Hetherington tells me, “It feels like it sums up the entire history of the band. We’ve been through all these different musical pasts individually and this brings together so many of those sounds that we’ve experimented with. It feels like our story.” Now when they take the stage, they can do so with confidence. Soon, it seems, they might be the ones playing gatekeeper.
Photographer: Max Montgomery.
Stylist: Soaree Cohen.
Flaunt Film directed by Nicole Busch
words and music by Anatole SERRET, Jules Hendrix CROMMELIN, Louie Edward SWAIN, Noah Francis HILL and Patrick Scott HETHERINGTON
© Editions Kitsuné / Warner Chappell Music France.