kevin parker billboard interview Travis Scott kanye west rihanna
Getty Images / Mark Metcalfe

In a recent interview with Billboard, Kevin Parker candidly discussed why he decided to shift away from fronting psych-rock band Tame Impala and move towards hip-hop.

The slate of artists the 32-year-old producer and singer/songwriter is currently working with reads like a veritable guide to the industry’s biggest names — some of the tracks he’s collaborated on, however, like the one he did with SZA, may never make it to the surface.

Talking about everything from teaming up with Kanye West and Travis Scott, to what it’s like having Rihanna as a fan, here are the biggest takeaways from Parkers conversation.

🔭

A post shared by Tame Impala (@tame__impala) on

On working with Kanye West

“I was completely starstruck, obviously. I was numb with excitement. He was in the element. He was super chilled-out. I guess the first impression I got was how into music he is. I feel like I was so privileged to be in the room. He wasn’t totally head-in-the-clouds. He seemed really switched-on and lucid.”

On his ye album collab

“I went and I listened to the song, [and] I realized that my beats weren’t on it. So I said in an interview that my song was on the album, and then I found out it wasn’t. The publication had already posted a thing, and we got them to change the article. The next day, I was listening to the rest of the album, and my stuff was on another song. It was kind of a mess. My contribution ended up being some drums on the last song [“Violent Crimes’].”

On why he transitioned to hip-hop

“It can be an absolute collage of sounds and flavors and ideas. In no other genre of music can things from so many different worlds come together and sound great. I’m being very narrow-minded here, but rock ‘n’ roll music’s kind of got to be rock ‘n’ roll, you know what I mean?

Especially coming from my world of being this control freak, everything’s gotta be perfect — working with hip-hop artists has taught me so much about not being precious about every single sonic detail.”

Very proud to be on this one🤙

A post shared by Tame Impala (@tame__impala) on

On co-writing Travis Scott’s “Skeletons”

“His manager got in touch and said he was a big fan [and suggested we] meet up if I was ever in L.A. We hung out and played some stuff, and he really liked what ended up being “Skeletons.” I know Travis likes his psych-rock. He likes his crusty metal guitar sound. I was struck by how much I thought it would fit Travis’ thing even though it’s not hip-hop-sounding.”

And Scott’s huge speakers

“What’s cool about people like Travis is that they’re just getting a bunch of people in the room and seeing what happens. But it’s not intense. Well, it’s intense because it’s the loudest shit I’ve ever heard. I’ve never heard music played that loud in my life, and possibly never will.”

On Rihanna’s cover of “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”

“We thought she wanted to sample it or remix it in some way. We didn’t really know. So it was only when the song came out that I was like, “It sounds like a cover.” I thought, “That’s cool, I guess that means she thought it didn’t need changing in any way.” It also meant I got 100 percent of the publishing, so I was like, “Fuck yeah!”

It’s kind of funny, because when I was writing the song, I imagined a female R&B voice singing it. And I forgot about that when I was finishing the song. So when I heard Rihanna singing it, I was like, “Oh, wow, the song is how I originally imagined it.””

On collaborating with Kendrick Lamar

“Oh, we met up for like an hour. We were kind of playing each other some stuff. It was before DAMN. came out. I worry now that people might think I have something coming. I don’t necessarily think anything is. He wants to do sessions with people all the time. He’s obviously an open-minded artist.”

On unreleased collabs with SZA

“I don’t know if it ever will [be released], which makes me really sad. It makes me extremely sad. It’s basically just a song we were working on [with Mark Ronson].

SZA, she’s got to be busy — when we were doing [the song], her album [Ctrl] was about to come out. I don’t think even she anticipated how much it would blow up and that she’d be all over the world. In the way that you probably imagine that I have people flooding my inbox with requests to work, she’s gotta have about five times that.”

On wanting to work with Daft Punk

“Daft Punk. I hold them in absolutely legendary regard. They’re so god-like to me, but I don’t even know what I’d do or how I’d do it with them.”

Who would you love to see Kevin Parker working with? Share your ideas in the comments.

Now meet Slow Hollows, the indie band working with Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator.

Senior Staff Writer
What To Read Next