Parisalexa: Seattle's Blooming Star
By Gabriel Rivas
Over the past couple of years, the Seattle music scene has not only continued to rise, but also started to receive national media attention. Thanks in large part to young, up and coming artists such as Parisalexa. At only 20 years of age, she already possesses the unique ability to seamlessly blend between R&B, Soul, and Hip Hop. Within 2018 alone, she released two EP’s which received widespread acclaim: Flexa and Bloom. Recently, The Seattle Times awarded both EP’s as their albums of the year in a piece entitled “The Best Seattle Albums of 2018”.
Both EP’s however could not be more different from one another. While “Flexa” contains speaker knocking bass and hard-hitting high hats alongside braggadocious lyrics, “Bloom” serves as a contrasting piece. Instead of the traditional hip hop beat signatures, “Bloom” is a return to old school R&B with piano melodies, elements of jazz and neo-soul. In standout tracks such as “Leaves and Seasons” and “Gardens”, one can hear traces of early Alicia Keys and SZA.
Looking towards 2019, it is safe to say Paris is here to stay and only getting started. As she continues to develop, one can only imagine what new heights her success will take her.
Below is a transcript of an interview conducted with Parisalexa from late November and marks the second interview in a series of installments for the year:
To start off, your ability to sing, write, and produce are three remarkable talents that not every artist can execute, at what age did you start dabbling in them? Did they all kind of start at the same time or did you start branching out over the years?
I started playing piano by ear when I was three. I would say I started writing around the same time. I also had a loop station growing up which is how I started producing. Basically, using my voice as a bass and going from there. I was around 16 with that portion.
How did you decide on sticking with your real name (first + middle) rather than choosing an alias/artist name?
Honestly, because I tried coming up with other names and they didn’t really fit. A lot of the music I was putting out were leftovers and personal, so I felt that other people could relate. Since they were based off my experiences, I felt that it was better to stick to my name instead of making something up that wasn’t authentic.
When did you decide that music was something you wanted to pursue seriously? Were your friends/family supportive of it from the beginning? I know some artist have often expressed that initially people are kind of doubtful of how stable a career in music can be, so that’s kind of where the curiosity I had stems from.
I always knew I wanted to do music. At first, I wanted to be a songwriter. My mom put me in songwriting camps. There were even times where I would sometimes skip class to write music. Even in school the only other thing I did was play volleyball, but everyone knew I wanted to do music. With my parents, it was pretty apparent. They knew it was something I was passionate about and supported me. I actually got a scholarship to Berklee’s College of Music and I turned it down.
I was also looking at McNally Smith College of Music out in Minnesota, which had a really good song writing program. I only applied to 3 schools in total. But all of them were music schools.
In terms of infrastructure for developing artists, Seattle as a whole seems to have a variety of programs available. Most notably, “The Residency” which has had a number of successful alumni. Even other outlets/competitions like “SoundOff! which I saw you were apart, seem to foster a strong sense of community. In your experience, do you think the nature of these programs influences how up and coming artists seem to be very willing in helping and putting each other on?
Yeah definitely! I mean the whole nature of Sound Off! doesn’t really cater to where you place. What matters is that you are in this community. We all work together, support each other, and try to get everyone on the same place. Travis did the Residency, but I met a lot of others like Romaro Franceswa through other outlets too. It’s just something super unique about the city. Not a lot of places really do what’s been going on over here.
Recently, I saw you did a show at Chop Suey on November 14th, how did that go? Had you performed there before? It seemed liked there was a strong turnout to show support from all over.
We sold it out actually! Which was super dope. It was an all-ages show. That kind of made it more unique too. I performed there before as an opener but not the headliner. The size of the venue also was something on my list. It had A 450-person cap and we sold it out. On a weekday night. That’s still crazy to me. I really felt the support for sure. There were people from Eastern Washington who even drove over just for the show.
In many ways, 2018 has been an extremely promising year for yourself at least from the outside looking in. Releasing “Bloom”, “Flexa”, and most recently the single “Hothead”, pretty much all to critical acclaim and positive receptions, how do you go about inspirations for new projects and what else do you have in store?
I have a lot of cool stuff actually, I have a Ballin Remix coming up with an up and coming rapper ,Armani White, out of Philadelphia and a couple other variations. (The remixes are now out at the time of this publication) I have more stuff for 2019 too.
In terms of concepts, it really is based on whatever is happening to me at the time. With “Bloom”, I wrote it around the time I fell in love with my best friend. With “Flexa”, I wrote it around the time that I broke up with him. It really is based off what’s going on around me and I try to capture that feeling.
From a production standpoint, “Bloom” and “Flexa” definitely have completely different sounds. with production from the likes of Elan Wright and Tyler Dopps, what other producers are you excited to work with either from Seattle or outside the area?
Elan Wright is like my main producer. I love working with him. There are a lot of cool people in the city, UMoore and Antero are a couple, they produced Bloom. Outside of the city, Trakmatic is super fire. Another guy named Omega who works with TylerYala but I love working with everyone. That experimentation basically pushes me to branch out.
Does it surprise you that “Ballin” already has over 1 million streams on Spotify or did you expect it to rack up that quickly? How did you go about writing that record?
No, I mean I knew that song would get a good reception, but not that fast. When I first heard it, I was actually like I should write this for Post Malone. My producer was like nah, you gotta keep that one. I obviously kept it instead of selling it and having a million plays is really amazing. I’ve always wanted to write hits as a song writer and as an artist, for it to happen to me for one of my own songs is completely unexpected, I’m honored,
Going off that, in terms of song writing, how do you get linked with artists or make those connections? I know you’ve written for Ariana Grande, Keke Palmer, and Jaz.
I got connected I guess from a really early age. Since I was 15, I was going to Grammy Camps. At the camps, some of the panelists would come up to me saying they wanted me in the studio out in LA. I’ve been really well connected since then and fortunate for that to have started when I was so young. But yeah, I would say that’s probably the first way and then everything else is just through shows or the media. They reach out or I reach out.
How did you meet Travis Thompson and what’s it been like working with him?
Travis and I met after SoundOff in the semifinals. I actually was the one who beat him. I didn’t think I deserved to win, and he got crowd favorite. After the show I was like oh my gosh you shoulda won. And he was like “nah fuck that lets go to the studio”.
Elan, who worked at the Ruby Room, got us together. This was around the time we worked on “End of the World” (track off Travis’ mixtape “Ambaum”)
From there we started our friendship. It was really inspiring and I wanted that kind of energy around me. We’ve been homies since then. We got some stuff in the works, I’m doing vocals on his upcoming project.
How do you view Macklemore and other artists like Sol? They seem to be the primary artists when people think of Seattle and I was curious how artists in the area view them now that they are getting involved in developing the younger generation.
I think it’s interesting that they are doing that now. They’re the ones who are looking at me, Travis, and so many others. They weren’t doing that a couple years ago. It was really competitive, everyone thought they had to come up on their own. That might be because they had similar vibes, but I think that them seeing how we can all use each other and collaborate has been one of the biggest moves in the city. It helps everyone in the long run.
Definitely. Going into regions, since coming to Gonzaga, I’ve always been fascinated by the divide and differences in the music scenes of Seattle and Spokane. As an artist from the West Side, how do you think Spokane is perceived amongst people/artists from Seattle in general?
I think there’s a lot of cool artists that are from the Eastern Washington area like Jango and Karma Knows. They obviously put on for their town and it makes me super curious to see what’s out there. I’m interested to come out to Wild Buffalo and a lot the bigger venues in town. The demographic is interesting, I haven’t had a lot of experience out there.
But I’m also definitely more interested in the college venues and scenes. I feel like I would get a big turnout there and seeing what Travis has done looks really fun.
I see the closest you are coming to Spokane would be Leavenworth on January 25th for the “Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival”, have you ever performed out in that area before? What are you hoping for from that show?
I actually have performed in Leavenworth. It was last summer at a winery. It went really well! I actually didn’t expect a lot of people to pull up to a Leavenworth winery. But it also amazed and surprised me that there were older people in groups coming out to my shows. It’s inspiring. The people who put on the Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival also put on a summer fest, “Timber” , and I did it with Travis after SoundOff! They’re just really cool locations and fun events.
Lastly, what would you say to people thinking about pursuing music but are maybe on the fence? Likewise, what do you think are some things that aspiring artists should be aware of or learn?
I would tell people who are on the fence, this is something you have to really love. It’s not for everyone so you definitely have to be committed. Your heart has to be into it. If you pop off , that’s not going to be an enjoyable experience if you don’t love it. The good thing about the current period is that there are so many job options for people in music that aren’t just performing, writing, or producing. You can manage, you can promote and so many others.
I think they should know that there are a bunch of other things that come with “getting popular”. When people like your music, there are also going to be others who don’t like it. And really you just have to accept that. It might be hard, but that’s what you gotta do. In many ways, you have to get detached because your soul is being poured out, but everyone has their own tastes. But, that ultimately shouldn’t deter or stop you.
Basically, Fuck the Haters.
If you want to hear more of Paris’ music, check her out on Spotify: