Theo Parrish: fresh from Detroit

After a decade, renowned producer, DJ and musician Theo Parrish has got the band back together – and what a band

Theo Parrish: “Make it personal”

Theo Parrish: “Make it personal”

Fri, Jul 4, 2014, 00:00

How did the live band come together? Piece by piece, with unexplainable timing and luck. I started by approaching the talent around me – Duminie Deporres for guitar, who, I believe, is the second coming of Eddie Hazel, and in recording for Wildheart, I met Mr Mensah, who basically wrote the second half of It’s Just Begun – he is probably the most musically advanced individual I’ve ever met. I had worked with Amp in Nigeria for Tony Allen – everybody knows he’s bad, and I knew that these three were exemplary musicians to build around.

The rhythm section comes from Myele Manzanza who surprised me earlier this year with a cover he did of one of my tunes I licensed from him for Wildheart. It was amazing – his ability to mimic any pattern is otherworldly. And as for vocals, I found Ideeyah through Duminie,whilst looking for a vocalist for my LP. I asked her to join as soon as I heard her. Since it seems that there’s starting to be a lack of dance in dance music, I thought I’d try to remedy that by example – Gehrik Mohr and his crew of phenomenal dancers, Jade, Maile, and Dominique will be displaying how to get down to the get down. It was work deciding what songs to cover, since it’s been quite a journey through the years, improving the sound and the release cycle – I reduced the list by thinking of a range of the titles that could be pulled off in a live context, with a variety of textures.

Composer Philip Glass has been quite vocal in his concern about the US government’s cuts to music education in school – he talked of how a music education or access to music can be vital, because it is a great foundation. What are your thoughts? I’d agree. Sometimes parents are challenged because they know if only their child could be exposed to something creative, it could give them a sense of innate accomplishment, or earned accomplishment,which in turn becomes confidence. That confidence becomes critical in the US when you have to operate on the other side of the socio- economic/cultural barrier. That can sometimes mean the difference between seeing life as something that happens to you, or something you live.

Was your time at the Chicago Academy of the Arts, and the Kansas City Art Institute influential to your subsequent work? Those arts schools gave me confidence, if nothing else. They taught me that no one can teach you to be an artist, per se, but they can teach you the nature of dedication required to gain skill. In the acquisition of those skills you find out if you have the desire to express yourself.