Though the subgenre isn’t the most popular or trendy in the world, “electro swing” has had its fair share of standout characters, and Austria’s own Parov Stelar easily sits atop the throne. Since his start almost 20 years ago, he’s been an incredibly prolific figure, putting out an extensive series of studio albums, live albums, EPs, and reputable remixes. Very few artists can so comfortably spearhead an entire sound or movement while still remaining a respected and lauded artist, which is a testament to Stelar’s chops as a musician.
In advance of Parov Stelar’s hotly-anticipated performance at the Showbox Market on April 18th, we recently had the chance to sit down with Mr. Stelar and ask him all about his extensive career and the background behind his craft.
Why the name Parov Stelar?
There is no big story behind it, I was searching on the net for some combination of words, which haven’t been used by anybody else so far, and that sounded good. In the end, Parov Stelar was the result, and I hope you like it.
Are Parov Stelar and Marcus Füreder one single person or do you seperate these two?
I have spent so much time being this character; after a while those two worlds blended into one.
How did you come up with the idea of mixing both styles? Did someone or something inspire you to do this?
It’s funny, but it happened by accident… I put a Billie Holiday record on my old – well, back then, new – 1210 turntables and it got stuck. It sounded like a great loop – you know, like a vocal sample on repeat. “Cool,” I thought, fired up my computer and started working on a beat for that. It all worked out great and that was a bit of a magic moment for me. And I thought, “That’s the direction I wanna go!” Then, I heard Mr. Scruff – “Get A Move On” and I thought to myself this could be a new sound for me because I love both ways – the retro nostalgic feeling, but also to be here and now with the modern electronic beats. So I did not think too much about it, it just happened.
How do you feel about the term “electro swing” in combination with your music?
I never put myself just into one style of music. I realize that electro swing was the kind of sound which made Parov Stelar famous. However, over the last 15 years, I produced many albums with various styles, some not even coming close to electro swing.
How do you choose the samples that you use and where do you get them?
I would say I have a few thousand records at home, but I don’t sample just from vinyl; the digital way is fine for me as well. Sometimes I go to the flea market, sometimes I browse YouTube.
How did it feel when world-class artists like Lana Del Rey and Lady Gaga asked you to remix songs of theirs?
In both cases, it was the management/label of Lady Gaga/Tony Bennett and Lana del Rey who got in touch with my management, requesting a remix. I was thrilled to produce a real masterpiece for those talented artists.
About your latest work, The Demon Diaries, why did you choose this name? What’s the story behind the album? How are you feeling about the album as a whole?
I chose this name because I always feel this restlessness inside of me, kinda like a demon, that keeps me going and pushing my personal limits. This demon doesn’t necessarily have to be negative. Like Immanuel Kant once said: “Fantasy is our good genius or demon.“
On your new LP, you collaborated with singers like Maya Bensalem, Anna F., Timothy Auld, Angela McCluskey and many more. How did that happen?
It’s always different. I’m always on the look out for young talented artists on YouTube, and if I like them, I reach out to them. One thing is for certain, on every LP, I make a song with my wife, the amazing Lilja Bloom.
What do you expect from your new LP, which is a huge collection of songs on two CDs?
I like to follow the concept of a double album, because CD 2 gives me space to express myself and try different genres and more melancholic sounds. I love the typical Parov Stelar sound, which can be found on CD 1, but I also want to be free to do something else.
Is there a track which you think is a potential hit, for example, “Six Feet Underground?“
I stopped making prognoses like this because usually I was wrong, although I have to say that “Six Feet Underground“ is one of my favorites.
Do you remember how your first experience on a stage was? And your first experience with a recording house? What advice would you give to the younger you now, after so many years of performing and composing?
I think the most important thing is to create something unique, something nobody did before. Of course this sounds impossible, but if you work on your own sound, you can’t go wrong. The music business is a hard business. As a young artist you have to be very ambitious, it’s not enough to be talented.
What do you prefer? Festival shows or shows where the audience is there for Parov Stelar only?
It doesn’t matter. We love an audience that is able to understand our messages, which we are sharing through our tracks. A crowd who is able to feel the passion of our songs, sharing the positive vibes and atmosphere, sweating and dancing, knowing the lyrics. And that’s usually the case at a show, where the people in the house are only there for you.
Do you have any fun stories of you and the band while you were on tour?
Once we played a private show in Russia in front of two people. It’s kind of weird when you have an audience consisting of one woman and one man dancing in front of a band consisting of 6 musicians.
Where do you get your creativity and inspiration?
Feelings, experiences, daily situations, travelling, relationships – all of these are great inspirations for my music. I am telling my personal stories and parts of my life through my songs!
You started as a painter and designer. What about this part of your life?
I never really lost track of this other passion of mine. During the recordings of The Demon Diaries, I went back and forth between my recording studio and my art studio and let myself be inspired by both worlds.
What are your plans with Etage Noir?
There are some amazing projects in the pipeline, some of it already coming this fall. The Etage Noir team is growing and that means more capacity for other artists.
Parov Stelar will be performing at the Showbox next Monday, April 18th. More information about Stelar’s performance can be found at http://www.showboxpresents.com/events/detail/306347.