I love doing the Living Room sessions with musicians – a sneak peak inside an artiste’s house and head – unjaded, passionate and honest conversation with chilled creative talent.
I was particularly eager to talk to this young married couple before the release date of their debut EP ‘Volumes’, as I can imagine their schedules will be filled fast, being one of the hottest new musical acts from the Pretoria-then-JHB scene.
Having to meet them at 7.30am was already an indication of the busy lives being led by Jean Louise and Alex Parker – but they fitted us in for a frosty morning tea by the fire enjoying one of the first spins to this glorious new production.
Academie released their single ‘Volumes’ a couple of weeks back to a strong online fan base. An electro-pop track written in the small lounge of their old coal room Westcliff home, the track has enough pop sensibility to make an impressive mark on world radio platforms. With a strong video and a contemporary aesthetic to match, the couple is vehemently focusing on what was initially just their passion project and moulding it exactly the way they want it to look, feel and sound.
“We really wanted to make something that we really love and enjoy so we were specific and meticulous. Every single sound and melody line was really thought through so it took a while to come together”, says Jean-Louise, lead singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
Both Parkers assume multi roles in the creative process and being full time music teachers, session musicians and Alex being a long-standing member of ISO, both Parkers are very busy. They have spent the better part of a decade in the music industry. Having met in a musical environment, their love blossomed organically under the same creative roof and Academie was their first-born.
Hard-headed in their musical values, ‘Volumes’ is an organic result of many Friday nights in their PJ’s behind the computer. With 6 tracks, the actual EP is far more experimental and progressive than the poppier single would have the listener believe, as is often the case with more studious musicians – and its 100% uncompromising in it’s song-writing, performance and vocal delivery.
Not wanting to “shoot their load” upfront, the group are holding back on tracks to test the water before jumping into bed with any record label. Like most savvy musicians these days, the record was self-funded and self-produced from its inception, only bringing in Peach Von Pletzen to mix and master, adding the heavy-weight contingent from Wereld Records, an artist collective they are proud to be part of, started by musical peer and friend Jaco from Bittereinde.
Mixing with such talented company has already seen Academie get booked for some top shelf live shows, including the Fete De La Musique in Newtown on the 18th June. Perhaps more exciting is the European tour they are currently booking shows for with Peach Von Pletzen and Dear Reader – another band that both Parkers have sessioned for over the years.
Teaching together, working together and living together means the Parkers have a thoroughly immersed life. “I think if spending too much time together was going to be a problem, we would know by now”, says Alex. After 5 years dating and a further 2 married, one of the most endearing things to notice is how into each other they still are.
Constantly talking about how talented the other one is, Alex and Jean-Louise are genuinely more proud of the work they have created together than anything either one has done in their solo careers.
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Watch the Volumes video here: