Tame Impala mainman Kevin Parker is used to musical puzzles. The complex arrangements and radical soundscapes of his psych-steeped discography attest to that. But Parker says that he was never as stumped as he was by his recent quest to crack a much simpler-seeming code: pop.
Speaking in the new issue of MOJO, (September 2015 / #262), the songwriter discusses the challenges of his latest incarnation, as disco-friendly new album Currents moved him away from his former home on music’s fringes.
“I’ve realised it’s a lot harder to reach people’s hearts than it is to reach people’s brains”, he tells MOJO’s Andrew Perry.
“When I became a ‘rock musician’, I assumed pop music was easy to write, and that interesting rock music, or alternative music, was hard,” he explains. “It was only later I realised that writing a pop song is the hardest thing musically”.
“It’s a lot harder to reach people’s hearts than it is to reach people’s brains.”
Since the release of 2012’s widely acclaimed Lonerism, Parker’s pop experiments have taken up much of his time. Not only did he create a Michael Jackson-influenced side project, AAA Aardvark Getdown Services, and YouTubed a rather beautiful OutKast cover, but he was one of the key collaborators on Mark Ronson’s party-starting Uptown Special album.
However, rather than bagging chart glory, the notoriously retiring Parker explains his goal is simply to reach more people.
“To touch that many people that way, it’s such a difficult-to-attain art form,” he says, "like the flower on top of the mountain.”
Get the latest issue of MOJO magazine, on sale in the UK now, for the full feature interview with Tame Impala. Plus listen now to 'Cause I'm A Man from Currents.
PHOTO: Guy Eppel