An Interview With Holly Dodson From Synthpop Band Parallels
Parallels is a Canadian electro-pop band who combine vintage synths with energetic beats. I talked to the band's singer and main songwriter Holly Dodson about her passion for music, the creative process she uses and where she finds inspiration to make more music.
Karl Magi: Tell me about the genesis of your passion for music making.
Holly Dodson: Music has always been a constant in my life, something that I always return to - both literally and figuratively. I grew up in a musical family, my parents ran an independent record label and studio, and my Dad is in a classic rock band. It has been a “home” so to speak. My brother plays drums with us, so our journeys making music have been an outward expression while also connecting with our roots. On another level, either listening or through writing, it helps me make sense of emotions or situations or this human experience we’re all having.
KM: Talk about the musical strands from which you draw in Parallels and how you balance them to create a fresh sound.
HD: A lot of it is in the moment - just jumping in using a certain synth and seeing where that takes me. I feel really lucky to have access to synthesizers, they’re such colourful sounds to me. I find that really inspiring. I also always try to be open to more unconventional instruments and textures and how they can weave with classic synths.
KM: How does the creative process work for you as a group?
HD: On our last two albums, it’s mostly been just me in the studio, but I’m always open to collaboration from my band mates or whoever! I try to take the songs to a level where the space I’m trying to create is clearly articulated and then play it to my band mates for their criticism which I really value!
I did a few co-writes with my band mate that appeared on Metropolis, I think it lead to some really interesting songs that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. On our first album, my former band mate would write ideas for instrumentals and I’d write the top line or add ideas for production.
But our process is always evolving, so over the past little while I’ve been making demos but as far as finishing them goes, I’m not too sure if they’ll become co-writes yet!
KM: What are the challenges you face as an independent group?
HD: Probably the biggest challenge has been balancing the creative with the business/social media stuff we have to do. The creative process is so solitary and reflective, and I feel like it shouldn’t be rushed and the business side is the complete opposite! Switching from the left brain to the right brain sort of spaces has been an ongoing challenge, but I’ve come to peace with knowing that it will always be like that, so we just have to do it.
KM: Talk about how you see your corner of the Canadian music scene. Where do you see it going in the future and what challenges does it face?
HD: Canada has such a diverse music scene, but in terms of electronic music and synthpop in particular we’ve found it a bit of a challenge to find a home for our sound here. However, so many amazing electronic artists have come out of Canada, that I feel like that’s going to change very soon. It’s up to us to put Canada on the map, when I think of synth parties around the world there are tons In Europe, a healthy number in the US and like two here sadly!
There’s definitely a listenership here, but we just need the parties and nights to be able to come together, to step out of the Internet forums and into the real world. There are a few amazing parties popping up - Switched on Synths at House of Targ in Ottawa and Tech Noir in Montreal are doing their first party next weekend actually - so huge love to them! I think the future of the Canadian synth scene is bright...neon.
KM: Where would you like to take Parallels going forward?
HD: In the near future, we will be announcing some tour dates to close out 2018. I have a ton of demos that have just recently started taking shape so there’s going to be at least a new EP on the horizon. There are a few super exciting collaborations in the works. I can’t reveal too much just yet, but I just heard the final mix of one of the tunes and I’m very proud of it and excited to share it!
KM: What inspires you to keep making music?
HD: Well it’s really fun - first off! I’m naturally a curious person, so the mystery of not knowing where the next bit of inspiration will come from always makes me buzzed. My band mates and the other artists I’m a fan of are super inspiring. Then there’s just the excitement of coming home to the studio, making something cool, feeling that endless feeling of being totally in the moment and all that of that magical stuff.