Arlo Parks

"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."
The 18-year-old grew up in South West London but is half Nigerian, a quarter Chadian and a quarter French.


As a sensitive and shy teen, she wrote short stories to create her own fantasy worlds as she struggled with her identity in the real one. At the age of 17 she found who she was and shaved her head, figured out she was bisexual, and wrote an album's worth of material – which we hope to hear more of soon.
Her newly released single "Super Sad Generation" is a delicate ode to the emotionally wrought youth of today. At just 18, the young singer demonstrates soul and compassion beyond her years.
"When I look at my generation I see a kaleidoscope of dejection, passion and anxiety - there's this strange mix of sadness and intimacy that saturates generation Z. Super Sad Generation was inspired by the time my friends and I sat on the green at sunset, half wine drunk and ugly crying for no reason in particular. We talked for hours about ghosts, disappointing our parents and depression. Everyone I loved seemed so angry and sick and aggressively alive, I'll never forget that evening. On the bus ride home I wrote the poem that would eventually become Super Sad Generation - a reflection on how a lot of things break and a lot of people get hurt during adolescence."

Growing up in South West London, half Nigerian, a quarter Chadianand 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 WaheedHanif Abdurraqib and IainS. Thomas as her favourite modern poets, and 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 and 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 HensonSufjan 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.

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  • Philipp Jacob-Pahl

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