Release Date 05/01/2020
(Transgressive) SubModern, AAA
Premiering last night as Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record’, today Arlo Parks has delivered her latest sonic offering; the beguiling 'Black Dog', a song she describes as being about "the feeling of helplessness that comes along with watching a loved one suffer." Out now via Transgressive, you can also watch the emotionally charged accompanying video clip, directed by long time collaborator Molly Burdett.
Further discussing the meaning behind the track, the ever poignant Arlo explains "it's supposed to make people who are struggling feel less isolated and start a conversation surrounding the prevalence of mental health issues in today's world." Particularly fitting, given she has just become an ambassador for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).
'Black Dog' is the follow up to recent single 'Eugene', which was released earlier this year alongside a video directed by Loyle Carner and his brother Ryan (The Coyle-Larner Brothers) and follows a recent run of sold out European and UK headline shows. The song has been her most successful to date, amassing 5,000,000 stream and featuring on the Radio 1 playlist.
Prior to the year’s new music releases, Arlo ended 2019 with a compilation of her singles to date titled Super Sad Generation, and was included in a multitude of tips for 2020 (she was featured in the coveted BBC Sound Poll, as well as receiving the backing of NME, DIY, Dazed, Hunger, Gay Times, Evening Standard, Metro, Dork, VEVO and many more). It rounded off a phenomenal twelve months for the young musician/poet, who released her debut single 'Cola' at the start of 2019 and subsequently headlined her first London show, played to a packed out crowd at Glastonbury (where she was also invited to perform live on BBC television), debuted her live offering across Europe, and embarked on two support tours with Loyle Carner & Jordan Rakei.
On a personal level, Parks struggled with her identity growing up; a self-confessed tom boy who was super sensitive and "uncool", she says it was like "I'm a black kid who can't dance for shit, listens to emo music and currently has a crush on some girl in my Spanish class." By the time she reached 17, she shaved her head, figured out she was bisexual and produced/wrote an album's worth of material.
Growing up in South West London, half Nigerian, a quarter Chadian and a quarter French, Arlo Parks learned to speak French before English. A quiet child, she'd write short stories and create fantasy worlds, later journaling and then obsessing over spoken word poetry, reading American poets such as Ginsberg and Jim Morrison and watching old Chet Baker performances on YouTube. These days she references Nayyirah Waheed, Hanif Abdurraqib and Iain S. Thomas as her favourite modern poets, nd it is clear that their works are as influential on her song writing as any musician. Books too, such as The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Parks says, "the way Murakami writes in that book is how I aspire to write my songs; gritty nd sensitive and human."
Fela Kuti's 'Water' and Otis Redding's 'Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay' sound tracked Arlo Parks' childhood, but it was aged around 13 that she discovered King Krule; an artist who would heavily influence the music she writes today. Later listening to more hip-hop (from Kendrick Lamar, MF Doom and Earl Sweatshirt to the more confessional sounds of Loyle Carner) and rock (Jimi Hendrix, Shilpa Ray and David Bowie), as well as the subdued, pained sounds of Keaton Henson, Sufjan Stevens and Julien Baker, Parks explains, "I would write stories so detailed you could taste them, while maintaining the energy and life of the hip-hop I loved." There's a visual, almost cinematic quality to her writing too, which is born from her love of horror films, streetwear and abstract art.