Jeremy Parkin surrounds himself with creativity at his music studio in his Riverdale home in Whitehorse on Oct. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon producer Jeremy Parkin uses found sounds to create lo-fi beats

The 21-year-old is also part of upcoming hip-hop duo Local Boy

Jeremy Parkin was originally a metal head.

While his first loves were bands like Pantera and Metallica, the 21-year-old Kwanlin Dün First Nation citizen now spends most of his time making electronic and hip-hop tracks. He fell into the genres almost by serendipity — he said he “kind of just found” the L.A. beat scene in high school. Around the same time, a friend introduced him to west-coast and Tennessee hip-hop.

“When I was younger, before I started producing music … I really wanted to be in a band but I guess I just never had the wherewithal or any bandmates that I could really find,” Parkin said in an interview Oct. 16.

“Like, I had friends who were into music but we could just never find the time or the space to organize or be able to play or anything.

“So when I initially started getting into hip-hop and electronic music, it became really clear to me that it was an avenue that I could take where I could … make my own tracks as if I was a full band.”

When it comes to producing, Parkin’s style varies from hyped-up remixes of existing hip-hop songs (most recently, he did a remix of Lil Wayne’s “Amili”) to cinematic, spacey, lo-fi electronic beats to tracks recorded using only an acoustic guitar.

“I don’t even know how to describe what it is genre-wise, but I was finding a lot of music in high school that was instrumental, like really lo-fi electronic music and hip-hop that really resonated with me and … I always strived to make music along those lines,” he said, citing Los Angeles-based artist Shlomo and other musicians in the WeDidIt collective as inspiration.

Besides drawing from Shlomo’s general vibe — a chilled-out but still moody, slightly trippy and occasionally melancholy sort of feel, something that’s well-suited for a rainy day — Parkin also appears to have picked up on the artist’s use of “found sound.” It’s a practice where a musician records ambient noise or other sounds created by things that aren’t typically regarded as musical instruments and then incorporates them into songs.

It’s especially apparent on Parkin’s 2017 album Black Dog, where almost all of the 11 songs open with some sort of ambient sound either played on or layered on top of synths. (The song “everything,” for example, opens up with the familiar sound of Vancouver’s SkyTrain speeding along, a ping, and the robotic-woman-voice announcing, “The next station is Waterfront, terminus station.”)

“Everywhere I go, I’m just constantly recording things on my phone and … compiling a big sound bank of things that I can just mess with later,” Parkin explained, adding that he’s used everything from the sounds of city bus brakes to forks dropping on the floor at the Burnt Toast Cafe in Whitehorse to the sound of a pen tapping on his teeth.

“It’s pretty touch-and-go, sometimes I’ll hear something and there’s an idea sparked instantly, and then other times I’m like, ‘Whoa, this is a really interesting sound, I’m going to record this and see if I can put this in something.’”

Parkin’s latest project, though, is shifting him back more into his other genre of choice — he and fellow Yukon musician Kelvin Smoler have created a hip-hop duo called Local Boy, and Parkin said they’re hoping to play more shows and get an album out by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, the pair travelled to British Columbia for a mini-tour, playing a show at Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver before driving over to Kelowna for two gigs as part of Canadian music showcase BreakOut West. Parkin also played one solo show, performing some of his electronic songs as an opener for fellow Yukoners the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers.

But while Local Boy is his main focus now, Parkin said he thinks his future ultimately lies in producing — and, possibly, outside the Yukon.

“The goal is to ultimately have music be my full-time job, I’d love to be able to sustain myself off of my artwork,” he said.

“I don’t necessarily have doubts that I could do it in the Yukon, but, I’m like 21 so I would love to see other parts of Canada and be able to network in music scenes that are far removed from the Yukon.

“I love the music scene up here, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like the type of music I make a lot of the time, other than hip-hop, so my electronic music, I feel like there’s such a tiny niche demographic for it here, but if I took it to a larger metropolitan centre like Vancouver or Toronto, there would be more abundant opportunities for me.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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