As she continues on her rise to the helm of the music industry, the artist takes some time to reflect.

Arlo Parks
Arlo Parks

What a year it has been for Arlo Parks, she really has burst onto the music scene, and she’s only just getting started. The debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, has lead Arlo Parks to many awards this year, winning breakthrough artist at the Brits and clinching the Mercury Prize. We caught up with the British singer-songwriter and poet at the beginning of her tour to chat her highlights of the year, tour and what’s to come.

How good does it feel to be back on the road and playing in front of your fans?
It feels so energising and heart-warming! I look into loving faces every night and people send me messages afterwards saying how safe they felt, how they’ve never felt energy quite like it – I never felt more filled with purpose. I’m beginning to think this album was made to be quietly digested in bedrooms, cars and buses then experienced completely together in a sweaty, heaving room.

How important is it to have that physical connection and to share your energy on stage with your fans?
It’s the most important thing. Historically, sharing music has always been this almost sacred thing. There’s a sense of being present, of being completely in an experience, of feeling the bass in your bones, of being close to strangers. When I’m on stage, I feel free and I would hope that everyone watching feels free too.

Congratulations on winning the Mercury Prize 2021, how did it feel when you heard the announcement and what does it mean to you?
I couldn’t quite believe it! I re-watched the footage and there was this distinct look of shock and disbelief on my face! I felt like I was floating up to accept it, out of body almost, then there were a lot of random bursts of tears and laughter over the next few days – it’s such a complicated thing to process big life events. The Mercury prize, to me, is a music prize for music lovers. There’s a purity and an honesty to the way the shortlist and winner are decided by people within the industry who 100% care deeply about music. It’s definitely one of the things I’m most proud of achieving in my lifetime so far.

Arlo Parks drum
Arlo Parks portrait
Arlo Parks drum
Arlo Parks portrait

I remember you saying that if you win, it’ll be going up on your parent’s mantelpiece, why is that?
Oh, because my parents are the best! I wouldn’t be winning anything without their love, support and encouragement. As soon as it’s engraved it’ll go right up there on the bookshelf next to the Brit.

How would you explain the story behind Collapsed In Sunbeams record?
It was mainly made between January and April 2020, we did a few short stints at Airbnbs in East London and we set up little writing caves with plants, incense and red wine and it all spilled out. The album revolves around coming of age, it’s very much about first times – first breakups, first real disappointments, first real parties and adventures and kisses and I love yous. It’s a very raw, emotional record and it reads as a journal to me.

What a year 2021 has been for you, what’s been the highlights?
Announcing that I was playing the o2 arena with Billie Eilish live on radio 1, drinking natural wine at Elliot’s, playing and winning at the Brits, spontaneously and terribly DJing my close friend’s party in Dalston, finding out that Harry Styles was a fan.

What’s going down after the tour?
I’m just going to be writing a lot, spending time in nature. I might pick up painting again – either way, a creative vomit is due.

Photography, Film & Words
Charlie Coleman

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