interview with o-week folk-pop performers parkville

Jul 21, 2020

Author: Tina Tsironis

Swinburne students won’t be enjoying a regular O-Week anytime soon – that much is clear. But thanks to the beauty of Zoom and social media, events we would normally attend face-to-face will next week be streamed directly to our living rooms.

One such event, a live-streamed show by folk-pop band Parkville, is one of the SSU’s most anticipated virtual O-Week activities. When you listen to the wistful yet majestic sounds of guitarist Liam Bell, pianist Michael D’Emilio and violinist Dylan Knur, it’s not difficult to understand why.

SWINE Editor Tina Tsironis spoke to Parkville ahead of their July 27 O-Week performance, talking musical influences, the challenges of working as an artist amidst COVID-19, and the emotionally taxing nature of writing and recording music.

T: How did Parkville initially form?

Parkville: The three of us went to school together in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We were in different years, but we met because we were all involved in the music theatre shows at the school. After Dylan graduated, we had a few jams to keep in touch, and then we just… never stopped, and now it’s almost six years later and we’re still playing!

T: How have you found performing to an audience who isn’t standing directly in front of you, in the wake of COVID-19 and its associated lockdowns?

Parkville: It feels much more like we’re just in our rehearsals – even though there is an audience on the other side of the screen, we can’t see them so it feels like a low-pressure situation where we can relax and enjoy the experience. I think this means our livestream viewers are getting more of a look into how we are when we’re just being ourselves and having fun.

T: What other roadblocks has the pandemic presented to you, especially as live performers?

Parkville: A lot of musicians, as well other kinds of artists, are struggling at this time – being an artist often means living on a very low income, which makes artists especially vulnerable in times of economic turmoil. I encourage you all to, if you have the means, support your favourite artists of all kinds financially by purchasing from their online stores, subscribing to their Patreons or spreading the word about their art.

T: Your lyrics are so poignant and emotionally raw – and this is a compliment! To what extent does the process of writing, recording and performing a song fulfil a therapeutic function for you all?

Dylan: I can’t speak for Liam, the other songwriter of the band, but I find that I often discover how I feel about something as I’m writing about it. That said, sometimes the process of writing and recording is incredibly frustrating and demoralising and is the reason I need to take therapeutic measures in the first place! So, there’s a kind of back and forth to the role that being creative plays in my life.

T: What kind of musicians, or artists in general, is Parkville inspired by?

Parkville: Lots of them! Liam grew up listening to a lot of Motown and older pop music like Stevie Wonder, Dylan got very into alternative rock bands like Radiohead when he was younger, and Michael listens to a lot of Hans Zimmer film scores. Recently, though, the three of us have all been really influenced by the Punch Brothers, a contemporary bluegrass band who’ve really impressed us all with their ingenuity and attention to texture.

T: Did you engage in the arts at all, as university students? Can you tell us how immersing yourself in music, or other creative fields, may have enriched your university experience?

Dylan: I did a degree in jazz music, so my entire university experience was art! It was amazing to study these theoretical music constructs and work hard to develop technical ability during the day, and then go to see live music at night and be in awe of the amount of incredible musicians that call Melbourne their home. Watching live music was a strong motivator, reminding me of what I was working towards.

RSVP to Parkville’s show here.

More information on Parkville is available via their Facebook page.

Header image supplied.