Thom Sykes, a junior at the University of Texas at San Antonio, began Parallelephants in 2013. Since then, the group has since produced their first album, “Composition Fantastic,” and has plans to release their sophomore work in the coming months.
With a pop-psychedelic sound that’s somewhere between of Montreal and Neon Indian, the foursome is bringing a lacquered synth to San Antonio.
Lindsay Davis: So how did the band come together?
Thom Sykes: I was in another group before this about four or five years ago. I didn’t really have any creative input and I was just playing drums.
I really wanted to write songs, but I never knew how; I’d never done it before. After that band started to kind of fade away, I started up Parallelephants by myself, and I was writing songs to see if I could do it. I slowly got other people involved.
LD: So, you had known that the others were musicians?
TS: Yeah, mainly through networking with other friends. We’d be like “Oh, I’m trying to get this project together,” and they’d be like, “Here’s my friend, you guys should get together and try to do something.”
LD: What’s your background as a musician?
TS: My first instrument was drums, and I started playing when I was seven-years old. From then, I just started to teach myself other instruments like guitar, learning how to sing and keyboard and stuff like that.
LD: I know you kind of do it all for Parallelephants, but what is your primary role?
TS: I would say producer. The person who has to arrange and put everything together. From then, I’ll tell everyone here’s the part or add your own thing to it.
LD: Your music has a very unique, funky sound to it. Would you say it’s primarily your influence behind that sound?
TS: Yeah, definitely. All of my influences are people I try to emulate in some way or another, like funk and R&B artists.
As far as the sound goes, it’s always varying. One day I’ll think some French music is really cool, but other days I’ll go back to a Prince song I once heard when I was five. It really varies all over the place as far as the inspiration, but I feel like the main reason why I make music is because I always want to hear new stuff. I’m always about what else can I do with this? It saves me from my own boredom. That’s the main reason behind doing it in the first place.
LD: How many albums do you see the band making?
TS: My number one hero is Prince and he always had an album out every year. That’s my own mental goal. If I am writing and producing everything, I want to make it a personal goal to have a quota of an album a year.
LD: You write all your own lyrics. Where do you find inspiration for those lyrics?
TS: It’s mainly just random thoughts that I’ll have at two or three in the morning. That’s when all the lyrics get done.
I’ll write the music first, and then I’ll write the lyrics like right when we have to release the song. It’s an instrumental for most of it’s life as a song, but toward the end I’m like “Okay, we’re going to put this song on an album, so I need to write lyrics for this.”
Most of it is just daydreams and stuff I wish I could do. I always try to write to save myself from being bored.
LD: How would you describe your audience?
TS: I like to think of them as the kind of people who are very open-minded and very unassuming. I feel like that’s what our music is all about in the first place. The sound invites people to dance and make people happy.
It’s people who just want to have fun.
LD: How did you come up with the name “Parallelephants”?
TS: It was just a sixth grade drawing of a parallelogram and then from then on trying to find cool stuff that fits into it. It ended up working out mathematically.
Check out Parallelephants here.