At just 19 years old, London-based musician and poet Arlo Parks is already gearing up to share her second EP, titled Sophie, and she is premiering the softly vulnerable yet powerful title track and its music video here on Billboard.
Speaking of the track, Parks tells Billboard that “Sophie” was written for a friend of hers, yet it is still “deeply introspective.”
“It’s a song about internal conflict,” she shares, “The difficult process of self-acceptance and being paralyzed by the expectations we place on ourselves.” She adds that while the song is about feeling helpless, there is also a “persistent, quiet sense of hope underpinning it.”
In the Molly Burdett-directed visual, which you can watch below, Parks is seen standing alone on an empty rooftop, lying motionless on the pavement, and floating in an empty body of water as her delicate vocals sing about being young and facing her anxieties alone, pretending that she is fine on the surface when really, she’s crushed. Despite that feeling of helplessness, the video ends with Parks dancing slowly to the pop-funk beat of the music.
Growing up as a self-confessed tomboy, Parks considered herself to be sensitive and “uncool.” At the age of 17, she shaved her head, realized that she was bisexual, and produced and wrote an album’s worth of material. “I’m a black kid who can’t dance for shit, listens to emo music and currently has a crush on some girl in my Spanish class,” she recalls.
Parks, who is half Nigerian, a quarter Chadian and a quarter French, was raised in South West London and learned to speak French as her first language. She cites the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and Jim Morrison and the music of Fela Kuti, Otis Redding, King Krule, Kendrick Lamar, MF Doom, Earl Sweatshirt, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and Sufjan Stevens amongst her eclectic list of influences.
Sophie is set for release on November 19, via Beatnik Creative/Transgressive. Arlo Parks will be embarking on a European tour with Loyle Carner at the end of this month and throughout November (dates listed below), with more shows to follow.
October 25 – London, Samsung KX (Guardian Live)
October 29 – Dublin, Vicar Street *
October 30 – Glasgow, SW63 *
October 31 – Newcastle, Newcastle O2 Academy *
November 2 – Leeds, Leeds O2 Academy *
November 3 – Liverpool, Liverpool O2 Academy *
November 5 – Cardiff, Y Plas *
November 6 – Manchester, Manchester Academy *
November 8 – Brighton, Brighton Dome *
November 9 – Birmingham, The O2 Institute *
November 11 – Cambridge, The Corn Exchange *
November 12 – Nottingham, Rock City *
November 13 – Exeter, The Great Hall *
November 15 – London, Alexandra Palace *
November 22 – Milan, IT, Linecheck Festival
* with Loyle Carner