Creator of the Electro Swing music genre, winner of many music awards, visionary and creative soul, outstanding producer and creator of unforgettable shows. I know that I don’t need to introduce Parov Stelar, because you, my dear readers, know his songs very well. My biggest dream was to interview him and here it is! I present to you 10, or rather 11 questions to Parov Stelar, from which you will learn a lot of interesting facts about his work – both musical and artistic.
01. LadyDot: Hi Marcus, you don’t even know how happy I am that you agreed to answer my questions! You could say I’ve been waiting for this moment for several years, because your music has inspired and fascinated me for a long time. And not only me, because you know that you already have a whole lot of fans both in Europe and in other parts of the world. How does it feel when you know that you have created a totally new, distinct, fresh musical genre – Electro Swing? When you started making the first tracks in this style, did you have a feeling that this music would be loved by a lot of people all over the world?
Parov Stelar: Wow, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m more than happy to answer your questions; thank you for reaching out. Well, it’s a great feeling to see that Electro Swing has become an important music genre embraced by people worldwide. When I started creating tracks in this style, I had a sense that this music could resonate with people globally, but I never imagined it would become so big. Witnessing the evolution of Electro Swing and seeing how it resonates with listeners is both humbling and incredibly rewarding. It’s truly gratifying to know that this unique genre has found its place in the hearts of so many music lovers.
02. LadyDot: In the beginning Electro Swing music was created by you, Caravan Palace, Caro Emerald, then the French DJ collective C2C became interested in swing sounds, and from about 2012 a real boom started… When I observe this music industry now, it seems that the popularity of Electro Swing is not diminishing, in fact it can be said that this music genre is becoming even more recognizable, and there are more and more Electro Swing artists every year. What was it like in the beginning? Why did you start your own label Etage Noir Recordings?
Parov Stelar: In the early days of Electro Swing, we were exploring uncharted territory. It was an exciting time, because we were creating something fresh and unique. The decision to start my own label, Etage Noir Recordings was driven by the desire for creative freedom and independence. I wanted to release music on my terms and collaborate with artists who shared my vision.
03. LadyDot: I’ve been listening to your albums for a dozen years or so, and I go back to those older tracks very often. This has really made me understand that okay, you may be the creator of the Electro Swing genre, but above all you are a visionary who started the existence of other related genres as well, such as Swing Hop (“Sunny Bunny Blues”), Balkan Swing (“Nosferatu”), Electro Blues (“The Burning Spider”)… Nowadays, a whole lot of Electro Swing artists are extending this vision of yours and for example Swing Hop is becoming more and more popular. How do you feel about the fact that so many artists have taken the Electro Swing route, and largely due to inspiration from your work? Do you have any valuable advice for them?
Parov Stelar: It’s inspiring to see artists exploring the paths I’ve paved in the world of Electro Swing and other genres. My advice to these artists is to not be afraid, keep experimenting, mix different styles, instruments, and rhythms. Stay open-minded, stay curious and never stop pushing the boundaries of music.
04. LadyDot: I love your album ‘The Art of Sampling’ – from the title of this album, which emphasizes that sampling is an art, to the perfectly chosen old samples and well-produced tracks, which I thoroughly enjoy listening to. You’ve involved quite a few people in this project – from vocalists and remixers to the fact that you decided to remix a few tracks yourself (Lana Del Rey’s ‘Dark Paradise’, for example) and create a totally new electronic version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’ – ‘Keep On Dancing’. Tell us, please, what was it like working on this album?
Parov Stelar: ‘The Art of Sampling’ was an exceptional project for me. Back then, I thought it was the right time to put a line under the last ten years. It’s a summary for me and my fans to observe the development of and across these albums. Sampling is indeed an art, and this album was a testament to that. To add excitement, I thought it made sense to include new tracks as well, resulting in three new songs featuring Lukas Graham, Anduze, and Marvin Gaye. I discovered Lukas Graham’s ‘Drunk in the Morning’ on YouTube and found it amusing, similar to Anduze, who was living in LA back then. Regarding Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up,’ it was the first song I created for this album/collection, and it has always been my dream to work with a Motown artist, one of the “old heroes”, and Marvin Gaye is “the hero”.
05. LadyDot: You have released as many as three split albums – ‘Coco (pt. 1 and pt. 2)’ in 2009, ‘The Princess (pt. 1 and pt. 2)’ in 2012 and the ‘Voodoo Sonic’ trilogy (pt. 1, pt. 2 and pt. 3) in 2020. Tell us, please, why did you decide to release so many really great, polished tracks in split albums in such a short period of time? Is it due to a sudden surge of inspiration, or did you have a completely different goal in mind?
Parov Stelar: The decision to release multiple split albums within a short period of time was driven by my creative bursts and the deep desire to share new music with my fans. My productions explored different musical directions, ranging from slow melodies to lively danceable pieces. This diversity led to the concept of split albums, allowing me to organize my work meaningfully. Slower tracks found a place on one CD, while the danceable pieces had their own space to unfold. My goal was to present my various musical expressions coherently and offer my audience a captivating listening experience.
06. LadyDot: I would guess that working on one song, let alone an entire album, is incredibly time consuming. Please tell us what the production stages of a single are like in your studio? Maybe there’s a track that you’ve been creating for several months, constantly looking for new inspiration?
Parov Stelar: The production process for a track can indeed vary. Some songs come together relatively quickly, while others may take months or even years. It often starts with an idea, a sample, or a sound that inspires me. From there, it’s an adventure of experimenting, arranging and fine-tuning until the track feels just right. There are moments of frustration and moments of pure creative flow, but that’s the beauty of music production. All of the last albums took around 2 years, more or less, from the initial idea to the release.
07. LadyDot: I get the impression that you are constantly looking for new artistic expressions of your work. Your last single, ‘Breathe’ (which I also reviewed on our blog), you released as Parov Stelar and Stelartronic. Can you tell us more about the behind-the-scenes creation of this single and the Stelartronic project?
Parov Stelar: My project Parov Stelar has become known over the years for a specific music style and approach, which is great. However, this also came with its limitations. Over time, I started to feel a bit restricted, and I’m someone who needs artistic freedom and variety to thrive. That’s why I started my Stelartronic project. With Stelartronic, I can incorporate synthesizers (I love it) and explore other electronic elements that might not align with Parov Stelar’s distinctive sound. Now, with both music projects and my painting, I have (for now ;)) found the creative mix that fulfills me.
‘Breathe’, my latest single, was unique in that it marked a fusion of both my projects, Parov Stelar and Stelartronic. For ‘Breathe,’ I took the opportunity to blend Parov Stelar’s signature style with Stelartronic’s wild electronic vibes, resulting in a fresh and dynamic sound.
08. LadyDot: I have always believed that music and visual art are closely linked. I also know that you are also involved in design. Please tell me, do you create visual elements for your albums (for example, covers)? If so, can you indicate which covers you have designed yourself or with a little help from someone else?
Parov Stelar: Visual art and music go hand in hand for me. I move back and forth between the recording studio and the art studio a lot, which is good for both my music and my art. Over the past few years, I’ve created pretty much all of the artwork myself. Some of them are actual paintings that I produce and then turn into an artwork for my music.
09. LadyDot: I sometimes reflect that the job of a producer is a bit like that of a music journalist. Each of these people tries to keep up to date with music news and listen to as many records as possible to expand their knowledge on the subject. What is it like for you? What music do you listen to on a daily basis? What tracks have been playing in your headphones most recently?
Parov Stelar: As a music producer, I listen to a wide range of music on a regular basis. It’s essential to stay open to different genres and styles, as this helps me discover new inspiration.
10. LadyDot: 10 Amadeus Austrian Music Award wins (including 2013 for “Princess” in the Album of the Year category), concert halls filled with fans who know almost every single one of your
songs, a tour of the USA and Canada, millions of streams on Spotify (“All Night” and “Booty Swing” have already exceeded 100 million streams)… Which of these achievements do you consider to be your greatest success in life? Or is it something else entirely?
Parov Stelar: Each of these achievements has its own significance, and it’s challenging to pick one as the greatest success. Winning the Amadeus Austrian Music Awards, performing for enthusiastic fans, and achieving millions of streams are all incredibly rewarding. However, my most significant success is the ability to create music that connects with people and leads them to dance and jump.
11. LadyDot: Oh, when I started writing all these questions, it became apparent that we should finish this interview because the formula is to ask 10 questions. However, I couldn’t resist the temptation and would like, if you’ll allow me, to ask you one more question. I almost always ask the same question at the end, and I’m incredibly curious to see what you answer. What are your plans for the coming years? What will you surprise us, your fans, with in 2024?
Parov Stelar: In 2024, I have some exciting plans lined up. First and foremost, there will be new music and live shows happening all over the place. I’ve spent a lot of time on a new Stelartronic album, which will be released in the upcoming year. Additionally, I’ve been working on some other tracks in a new studio, and they’re almost finished as well – so stay tuned.
One of the major live-highlights of 2024 is our upcoming Parov Stelar Theater Tour, which we are currently preparing. I’m truly excited about it because, with this tour, we have deliberately taken a different path, moving away from large halls and stadium shows to smaller venues. This change brings us closer to our fans, capturing a unique spirit through more intimate settings. The first dates have already been announced, and tickets are available. Here’s a glimpse of our tour schedule so far:
21.02. in Warsaw, PL;
22.02. Krakow, PL;
23.02. Prague, CZ;
13.03. Paris, FR;
14.03. Brussels, BE;
19.03. Amsterdam, NL;
20.03. London, UK;
21.03. Zurich, CH;
22.03. Berlin, DE;
23.03. Luxembourg, LX.
More dates to come!
But that’s all just a glimpse of our plans for 2024. Stay tuned for more updates and surprises on the way!
LadyDot: Thank you very, very much for this inspiring interview. I’m extremely happy that you’re going to play as many as two concerts in Poland and I hope I can go to one of your shows. :)
Interview by LadyDot (Ja, Wizeruk) Date: 2023-10-30