To casual observers, electronic music may be sterile noise created to excite and energize people. That may be major simplification, to be sure. But with so many artists in the genre creating songs aimed at getting people dancing, it's almost jarring to hear electronic music encased with personal experience.
Yet it's clear from a listen of Those Emotions Ran High that St. Louis native Parisian isn't trying to get people moving and grooving. The EP - which can be obtained for free by going Parisian's Tumblr or Facebook page - features songs such as "Heavy Petting," a conspicuously sensual track with foot-slapping drumbeats and atmospheric synthesizers. Even though the song was concocted from personal experience, it billows out a sound that connects to anybody who ever became infatuated with someone else.
Parisian - whose real name is Ian Jones - was formerly a part of Safety Words, a duo that dissolved at the end of last year. Getting out on his own allowed Jones to go beyond a regiment of hip-hop and delve into more experimental realms.
Jones took some time to talk with RFT Music by phone about his new-found tenure as a solo artist and the work that went into getting Those Emotions Ran High out. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Jason Rosenbaum: You've essentially been a solo artist for about six months now. What's the experience been like? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of working on your own?
Ian Jones: I'd say the solo thing is going pretty well so far. I've definitely been having fun with it. [I basically don't] have anybody to bounce ideas off of. So I basically sit down, make something, listen to it a few times and see if I can get into it.
I'm known for kind of keeping weird hours. I pretty much stay up all night and work on music if I can. So now when I'm working by myself, I can work whenever I want.
What was the process you went through to get Those Emotions Ran High out?
I've got a couple of EPs that I finished recently at the end of last year. I don't know, this one - it meant a fair amount to me partially because of the time period that I made it in and what it's about. And so, I was like 'I really want to be heard,' so I just put it out there for free on my Tumblr and my Facebook page.
What are some of themes and musical elements that you wanted to put across in the EP?
I guess more than anything, basically a lot of the record is kind of about a breakup and drama in my life. At the time that I was working on it, which was last year, I was just kind of going through some stuff. And I was like 'man, I think I need to fixate on something ... so basically I don't go crazy.'
I just kind of sat down and focused on that. I guess a lot of it was made with the idea of isolation. I think that's one of the bigger themes there for me.
When you put out an album or an EP, you aren't going to purposely release songs you feel are substandard. But are there any tracks in particular you think really stand out on Those Emotions Ran High?
I'd say "Heavy Petting" was the one that ended up being some kind of single. It's the song that this website -- XLR8R - picked up on. I didn't think I had it in me to produce something that kind of had a crossover appeal. So I'm pretty proud of that one.
And "Parasite" is actually my favorite song on the album. I don't know if it's the one that'll be the best received. But I don't know, it's one of the few times where I spent making music where I sat down and the emotion I tried to attach to it, I guess I was successful.
It's interesting how you've mentioned emotion and experience. When people think about electronic music from an outsider's perspective, they may not attach much meaning to songs. Is that what you were going for? To move beyond just putting out a slate of music?
I would say I definitely did that. Some people kind of associate electronic music with dance music. And I mean, I think that's good. I like dance music. But I'm not really concerned with making anybody dance. It's more of that I have a feeling that I want to get across.
I play drums and I play piano, so I kind of come from the other side as well. But as far as me being able to do something by myself, the easiest for me is to sit down and make electronic music. Because I can control all of elements of it - I don't have to worry about somebody else trying to play guitar for me or bass or whatever. I just sit down and create everything. I think that's my main thing when I sit down anyway to work on music is just to emote.
How do you feel your EP has been received in its short time of release?
When I make stuff, I make it for myself and a couple of my friends. That's basically how it goes. It's nice if I get a reaction and people are into it. But more than anything, I'm talking just to a couple of people and just kind of representing myself. And the people that I really put it out for gave it a really good reaction and are pretty happy about it.
It's getting downloaded a fair amount, so I guess so far I'm happy with it. There are plans to work on some other things. Like I have a video or two planned for a couple of tracks on it. Hopefully I can work on fleshing out those ideas further when I get those things out there.
Have you performed some of the EP's songs live? If so, how are people reacting?
People seem very into it. A lot of the songs on the record ... I don't feel like it would play out well. Because usually when I do a show, I do something at like Atomic Cowboy or something like that. Something with other DJs. So I have to play some of the more danceable stuff.
I have to get back to point where I can play shows, play the stuff that doesn't necessarily have a danceable beat to it and still get the same reaction. I guess the venues that I've been playing recently don't really adhere to that sort of thing. That's the plan to I guess shape it a little better so people don't have to necessarily dance to it.
What are your plans for the next few months?
I'm trying to less live shows, because while I'm still inspired to be working on stuff, I want to do as much as possible. And if I have a live show, for some reason I just have trouble balancing the two - getting a live set together and writing. So I'm trying to write as much as possible.
I'm talking to a label in the UK about releasing another EP, hopefully that will be out later this year. There's a producer that used to live in St. Louis and moved away. I guess as far as a name, that's all I want to put out there right now because I don't want to jinx it. ... We're working on a small project together and hopefully that will be out later this year too.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.