Parallels, brainchild of singer Holly Dodson, could be compared to artists as varied as Madonna, Berlin, to modern acts such as Kylie Minogue – but give their new effort, “XII,” a spin and it becomes apparent that their repertoire would fill far more than the milk crates of lps of their predecessors. While I do feel, at times, like I’m watching “The Last Dragon” while listening to “Moonlight Desires,” other tracks such as “Time Will Crawl” gives the listener something more akin to Yelle or Robyn.
The nice thing about Parallels is that, although the songs are all following a similar formula, they don’t exploit the formula. Being able to create synth pop that sounds fresh, while still pulling from influences that are over 2 decades old, could prove to be a failing venture. Luckily Dodson has an amazing support team, notably Nick Dodson and Artem Galperine.
I was able to shoot a few questions to Ms. Dodson and get her opinion on the writing/recording process, as well as the ups and downs of band life:
Who does the programming and keys for your records? What is the writing process for a song? Are you a collaborator / or do you present completed work?
‘I did all of the programming for XII, however I seem to be surrounded by musicians who are always eager to give me their two cents so sometimes my brother will hear what I’m doing in the studio and tell me it’s not working! For the most part I wrote these songs in layers, with a starting point of some lyrics or a melody, or sound that I create and build the song from there. ‘
What was different about the process of writing XII, now that you had an album to your credit?
‘Well, the band went through some line-up changes which promoted me to being the main songwriter. At the beginning I felt the pressure, but it was a challenge that I quickly embraced. The follow-up is always hard because as an artist, you need to grow and try new things but at the same time remain true to your fans who loved the debut. So it’s a bit of a balancing act between letting your imagination run wild and sticking to your guns. ‘
How did you develop your singing style? Were you formally trained in voice / instruments?
‘I was never formally trained, but I’ve done a lot of recording since I started writing music so I really learned a lot through plain old experience. I used to take piano lessons and did my Royal Conservatory exams, but I’ve found I best interpret music I write so unfortunately I’ve given up on my classical for the time being!’
How did the recent tour go? Any brief stories or thoughts on touring? Will there be another one following the release of the album?
‘The tour was fantastic— it was the first tour with the new line-up, my brother, Nick Dodson on drums and the most talented keyboardist I know, Artem Galperine on synths. Oh there are stories…jumping into Biscayne Bay in Miami after a bottle of Jameson, fully clothed, with sting-rays was a smart decision by my bandmates :) That’s the short of it…one of many stories. We will be touring the west coast in August, we don’t want to stop!’
Luckily, it doesn’t seem like Parallels will be stopping anytime soon. Dodson still has her gift to share, and we are still chomping at the bit for something to dance to. And personally, this is such a welcome treat from the myriad of teenie-bopper screamo angst-ridden ‘woe is me, first world problems’ crap that I’ve been subjected to…so thank you for that. Now carry on.