James Fernandez (Arlo Parks) - Interview

Dude, how’s life? We first met at an Arlo Parks show, how was that tour for you all?

Tour was great! That was the first ever Arlo Park headline tour so the crowds were really reactive. At the end of last year we were on tour with Loyle Carner and Jordan Rakei and the venues were huge, so it was nice to play in more intimate spaces.

When did you start drumming ? How did you discover drumming?

I actually started playing classically first before the drums. When I was younger my mum started me and my brothers on the piano from the age of 5. We then worked our way through all the grades, I picked up classical clarinet and saxophone during school too. Then I think it was my brother who got a drum kit which I started playing. Together with my other bro we formed a small jazz trio and used to play at various functions across the UK and Europe. Its crazy thinking back at it now as I was only around 11 at the time and was gigging almost every weekend in my summer holidays until I was about 18 haha.

Let’s talk a bit about your projects. Who are you currently working with? Who have you worked with in the past?

I’m still in a band with one of my bros called ‘Magic Wok’. We’ve just recently finished an EP which we recorded with a genius called Skinshape- you should check him if you don’t know! Me and the other boys in the Arlo Parks band are also going to start work on a small little instrumental record too.

How are you keeping yourself busy during these strange times?

These past few months have been great! Asides from the London headline/ American tour/ SXSW/ all summer festivals being cancelled :-( It’s been nice to relax, play animal crossing, listen to new music, practice and cook good food. I recently just moved into a new apartment before lockdown so have been putting together an ‘apartment friendly’ space for my drums so have now got a nice compact set up for recording drums here. In terms of my practicing, i’ve taken things back to basic a bit more through simpler exercises and trying to actively improve my technique.

Finally, can you share a quick tip or give us a small exercise you always use?

KEEP IT SIMPLE. This phrase comes up a lot but I think can be applied to all recording, live and practicing situations.

I find that when I am practicing its very easy to just jump on the kit and start playing any random thing at any speed, and at any volume but now I try to be more disciplined in my routine and it feels a lot better.

In a recording situation, if you have a good engineer with a nice mic set up even the most simplest of playing can sound fat! Some of my favourite tracks by drummers at the moment are so simple in their playing yet so intricate in their style and recording which makes it sound so good.

The thing I have been working on a lot more recently is keeping it simple in live shows. For all musicians you always strive to ‘show off’ and play your most complex beats or fills but I found that doing this made my playing a lot more tense. By consciously telling myself to play simple I have felt so much more relaxed in my playing- you just have to trust that your musicianship and style will shine through no matter what.

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