“It’s like flicking on the radio”: Kevin Parker gives rare insight on his creative process on Rick Rubin’s podcast

Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker has given a rare insight into his creative process on Rick Rubin’s Broken Record podcast, sharing an acapella voice memo of a Tame Impala song.

The “candid” demo was played by Parker on a Zoom call with Rubin on the podcast, as he described how the seed of a musical idea comes to him. You can hear the voice memo from the 29-minute mark below:

“It’s like flicking on the radio…[when you flick on the radio] it’s not like starting the song. It’s like coming in halfway through a chorus. And then I do my best to get to a place where I can record it, before I forget it…It’ll be like two bar, or a one bar piece of music,” he explained.

“The only thing that I’ve noticed as a pattern…is going from a loud place or a place with a lot of energy to stepping outside…going from lots of shit going on and thinking to suddenly nothing and then my brain has to find some way to fill that void.”

Parker also mentioned he smoked marijuana in the studio and worked late at night to engage his unconscious brain and “stop myself overthinking”.

“The way I started working on [‘The Slow Rush’] again was pretending I was in a recording session with a bunch of other people – staying up late, getting drunk and stoned and kind of having a party by myself,” he said.

One of the weirder kernels of inspiration Parker highlighted was a six-part Youtube video series on the making of Justin Timberlake’s debut solo album, ‘Justified’.

“It almost seems like leaked footage, because it’s just fly on the wall, someone’s holding the video camera the whole time…The first bit of ‘Breathe Deeper’ was kind of me pretending to be Pharrell and Justin [Timberlake] making ‘Justified’,” Parker laughed.

The Perth musician also discussed the difficulty he had in restarting music as Tame Impala, after a four-year gap between the release of ‘Currents’ and ‘The Slow Rush’.

“Me making music as Tame Impala, now and always, is a deep dark hole that I have to go into and it drains every bit of me,” Parker said.

“I absolutely did [make music] – I just didn’t see it as Tame Impala and it kind of seemed more like a drag to think of a song as Tame Impala. Every time I thought of a song, if I imagined it as Tame Impala the idea was loaded with all these things that came with it. It just seemed so much more magical and wonderous a song I could collaborate on with a different artist.”

The appearance on Rubin’s podcast follows one on ‘Song Exploder’, where he dissected the construction of ‘It Might Be Time’. Tame Impala is set to perform this weekend as part of NTS’s 24-hour livestream concert Remote Utopias. He recently took part in a televised Australian coronavirus relief livestream to perform an acoustic version of ‘On Track’.

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