Painting the illusion of Tame Impala is multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, a musical puppeteer who’s been pulling all the curly strings of the psychedelic rock project since its debut in 2007. From starting out in his bedroom in Australia to headlining 2019’s Coachella, the 34-year-old artist has made a skyrocketing career as one of the most influential musical acts of the last decade. Here’s everything you need to know about the man behind Tame Impala.
Parker’s musical journey began at the edge of Perth, Australia, a place he describes as having a “Los Angeles scenery but a small rural’s town mindset.” But unlike the other town residents that were settling down into the small town lifestyle, Parker began experimenting with music. At age 12 he would record himself playing drums and then overdub guitar and other instruments to create a lo-fi sound. He then found a way to make his voice seem as though there were others were singing along with him, a tactic he would continue use throughout Tame Impala’s career (contrary to popular belief, Tame Impala really is just Kevin Parker on his own).
By the time he reached 19, Parker was heavily involved in the small-but-thriving music scene of Perth. He was playing in several bands including Pond, Mink Mussel Creek and his own The Dee Dee Drums, which would then come to be Tame Impala. In 2007, the rising artist uploaded a number of tracks under Tame Impala to Myspace which eventually led him to a contract deal with Australian label Modular Recordings.
Making hits in your bedroom alone is all well and good to make an album, but to actually transfer those hits to stages requires a few more members. Which is why, if you’ve ever seen Tame Impala live, you’ll have seen significantly more people onstage than just Parker. To create a live and touring aspect, Parker enlisted the help of a few friends and fellow The Dee Dee Drums and Pond members to really bring the music of Tame Impala to life. Once Tame Impala starting hitting the stages, that was the final touch that made the acid-pop project take over the music scene.
From 2008, Tame Impala has been constantly growing. Parker has since released three studio albums under the project (with the fourth dropping this Friday 14th Feb), has won over 30 awards (including 2 Grammy nominations), performed a number of live shows around the world, including headlining 2019’s Coachella and Glastonbury festivals as well as becoming the second Australian act to headline the Primavera Sound Festival. The project’s third album Currents stands to be one of the best albums from the last decade, appearing on multiple ‘Best Albums of The Decade’ lists, earning a Grammy nomination and remaining as Tame Impala’s most streamed list of songs since its release in 2015.
If he hadn’t been already, the success of Currents really made Parker a star. Not just for his ability to continuously make a hit, but for the way he adapted his production to fit a certain kind of mood. The sound of Tame Impala is timeless, with each song being able to perfectly soundtrack any moment no matter what year or place. And it’s also incredibly distinctive. It’s not hard to spot Parker’s production with his psychedelic dream worlds always unmatched, and it’s this creativity that has artists desperate to collaborate with him.
Every musical venture Parker jumps into is seen as simply another project. He continues to work with Pond and Mink Mussel Creek, helping to produce their albums and assist with instrumentals when needed; but he’s also branched out to a more popular music scene. In 2014 he joined forces with producer Mark Ronson to push out some hits for Ronson’s fourth album Uptown Special, he remixed Miguel’s ‘Waves’ in 2016 which became significantly more popular than the original, he helped write and produce Lady Gaga’s lead single ‘Perfect Illusion’ from her fifth album Joanne, and produced ‘SKELETONS’ on Travis Scott’s Astroworld.
And he’s not even anywhere near finished. Parker aims to become the next big pop producer, dreaming of his creative sounds floating their way through every radio station around the world for years to come. He wants to continue to push out sugary pop hits (like his work on Camila Cabello’s ‘Find U Again’) and bring the gooeyness of kaleidoscopic rock more and more into the mainstream. It’s a big goal, but then so was thinking anything would come from those bedroom instrumental experiments; so we have all the faith that Kevin Parker is going to conquer the world. Afterall, he’s already halfway there.
Tame Impala’s fourth studio album The Slow Rush is out this Friday, you can pre-order it here.