Catching Up with Jeremy Parkin
Writing and Photography by Ashwin Freyne
Shakat Journal sat down with Jeremy Parkin, local Whitehorse musician, and member of Local Boy, before he played the Adaka Festival. We talk metal, DIY ethic, trail mix and corporate gigs.
Ashwin Freyne: It’s July 3rd. It’s five o’clock and we’re sitting in the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Center. Can you introduce yourself?
Jeremy Parkin: I’m Jeremy Parkin. I’m a producer musician from Whitehorse, Yukon and glad to be here
AF: How long have you been playing music?
JP: I picked up the guitar when I was about 11 years old and then I started producing music probably about 10 years ago, maybe. And so I was probably 12 or 13 when I started actually producing music.
AF: And you used to be a metal head? Are there any famous Whitehorse or Yukon metal bands that you want to shout out or that were formative?
JP: I saw Minotaur play. I think they’re Bushwhacker now, but I saw Minotaur play at a Battle of the Bands probably when I was like 12 years old or 13 with my best friend Casey and that show just blew my mind away. It was them and The Fat Chicks. They were super rad; both of those bands just messed me up when I saw them play.
AF: When you played at the Dawson Hip-Hop Showcase, Jeremy Linville said in 10 years he expected you to be playing with Harry Styles. How’s that going?
JP: It’s good. I haven’t made contact with Harry yet, but I’m planning to – give me two years and I’ll be there.
AF: Can you speak a bit about playing at Adaka? Have you played at Adaka before and what does this festival mean?
JP: I did last year. We did, like, the same kind of showcase that we did at Dawson City, but it was here and I was just during the daytime. So, it was cool to be a part of that last year. It’s just, it’s great to be a part of, it’s a cultural festival and I’m just appreciative that I get to be able to show my take on my own music and culture. Growing up, my mom would take me to fish camp a lot and your family and your elders and everything always teach you to utilize the land to its fullest capacity; nothing is wasted. I can draw parallels between that and the way that I make music, just in the sense that I’ll take found sounds, like everyday sounds, maybe like a bus door closing or a pen slapping on a desk and use it in my music and my art. It’s cool to be able to just be a part of the festival and such a diverse bill.
AF: You talk about ‘found sounds’, what does Waterfront Station mean and what can you say about that sample? (from the track Everything on Jeremy Parkin’s album Black Dog)
JP: I was living in Vancouver at the time. It was a month before I moved back here and there’s just something so dissonant about being on the SkyTrain alone, on the way home from work. I was living with Kellvin but he was in and out of the province a lot, so I spent quite a bit of time alone. The dissonance and the automation of that voiceover on the on the PA system in there; to me the textures that you’d hear while in the SkyTrain were always kind of interesting to me.
AF: Do you find that samples you to end up taking in Whitehorse end up being quite different than samples you take in in Vancouver? Can you tell where your samples are from only by listening to them?
JP: Definitely. Samples I was gathering in Vancouver, they’re always grimier and, here [Whitehorse] it’s just a little bit more organic. So it was cool to mix those two when I was making my first album.
AF: Forks falling on the ground at Burnt Toast maybe?
JP: Oh, yeah. I was actually out for breakfast with my old boss Sandor, and would basically go for breakfast, like, at the beginning of every week and I had my microphone, I wasn’t using my phone this time, I had my microphone and we were having breakfast and it was just us in there and some forks fell, and had a cool texture so I used it in a track.
AF: So are you into vaporwave?
JP: My friend Zack got me into vaporwave when I was probably 16 or 15 right when it was becoming a thing. It played into like the way I make music. I end up slowing down most of the samples that I use, I find that you just get like some interesting textures out of it.
AF: So I was looking at some of your older stuff you put out a song called Boys Don’t Cry, several years before Frank Ocean put out his zine!
JP: I did, I was basically, like, making that song and it was the first step that I took in the direction that my music is like now. It was kind of like the baby version of what it became. I was hanging out with, my best friend, and he’s my cousin as well, Dustin Titus, and he’s kind of like my muse and I’ve always drawn from him creatively. We were hanging out on a cliff and I was taking pictures on this camera that I had and there was a really overexposed picture of him laying in the grass. I ended up cutting that out and making it my kind of logo for a while and what became that cover art.
AF: Your most recent album is called Black Dog. There’s also a mystery novel called Black Dog Cooper and Fry, have you heard of that?
JP: I haven’t but when it comes to like Black Dog and writing, I know that Winston Churchill used it a lot. His writings refer to it as his depression personified. He’d always refer to it as, “the black dog is around the corner” kind of thing. So I definitely drew inspiration from that but I originally came into the term from my old boss, Sandor. He introduced me to it and I was enamored with the term. It seems so punk to me.
AF: Like a Black Flag call out, almost?
JP: Almost yeah, I heard it and it seemed magnetic to my life at the time. I was going through a weird moment in my life and I just felt really gravitated towards it, so I just latched onto it and ran with it after that.
AF: You said in Dawson that one of the things that connected your music and Jeremy Linville’s was that both of them touched on mental health. Is that still accurate?
JP: Yeah, definitely. I’m always writing from a really internal place. I feel, like, super weird when I write about things that aren’t happening inside my head. I feel like it’s out of pocket to speak on a situation that isn’t necessarily mine. When I’m making music, it’s constantly drawing from mental health and darker emotions.
AF: You said that Beneath the Broadcast was like musical trail mix and you were the nuts and Jonah Barr was the dried bananas. What do you think Kelvin would be? (Kelvin Smoler is Parkin’s musical partner in hip-hop group Local Boy)
JP: Kelvin is definitely an almond. You know what I mean? He’s an almond for sure because it’s very hearty. Very underrated aspect of the trail mix. Nobody’s like “the almond is my favorite part” but the almond is so pivotal in making a good trail mix.
AF: One question about shoes. I know you guys have the dusty punk shoe look when you were doing Beneath the Broadcast, and then in Dawson you’re wearing two different colored shoes. You’re also part of Holy Sock. What can you say about shoes and Hip-Hop?
JP: I don’t know if I can necessarily speak on shoes in hip-hop, but I always end up wearing the same pair of shoes to my shows. I don’t know if I’m superstitious but I just feel it’s kind of associated with the identity that I put into the music. I draw from a place of, kind of like, a loner vagrant kind of kid. I feel like the dusty shoes just play into that “these are my beat up shoes and like I never take them off” vibe.
AF: Dave White (of CBC North) said that your music video in Beneath the Broadcast was sort of an anti-corporate music video. Have you had any office jobs or corporate jobs where you have to sit in an office?
JP: Wow, okay, when is this going to come out? Okay, I quit my job today. I just got offered another position at the studio doing music, so I took that opportunity to go do that. This job that I just left was the most corporate thing that I was involved in and it felt like a square peg in a round hole. Not that I don’t, like, appreciate the knowledge and the skills that I gained from that position, but it was definitely going from my previous job of five years to like being unemployed and a musician to being back in that pseudo-corporate setting was hard for me.
AF: You talk about DIY ethic and of punk ethic. What kind of crossover does that have with the First Nation and Adaka in the Yukon?
JP: Thats a hard question. A lot of first nations indigenous music right now, like contemporary, really plays into that revolt attitude. That’s where it bridges over with punk. It’s that anti-establishment kind of attitude.
AF: Anyone you want to shout out?
JP: Definitely Adam Titus again. Always David Cronenberg. Going to shout out Ian Curtis. I’m going to shout out Jello Biafra. Definitely Shlomo and the Talking Heads. Those are the top shoutouts and Kelvin and Local Boy, the Holy Sock Gang, the Heart of Riverdale, GWS. Yeah, I think we’re good. Yeah, that’s good.
AF: Why should people come to Adaka?
JP: People should come to Adaka because it’s just gonna open your eyes and your mind to the diversity of indigenous culture and music and art and why wouldn’t you want to do that?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.