English Singer/songwriter, Arlo Parks has released a new video for “Black Dog.” The singer/songwriter, describes the song as being about, “The feeling of helplessness that comes along with watching a loved one suffer.” Available now via Transgressive / PIAS, the emotionally charged accompanying video, directed by long time collaborator Molly Burdett. Further discussing the meaning behind the track, the ever poignant Arlo explains, “It’s supposed to make people who are struggling feel less isolated and start a conversation surrounding the prevalence of mental health issues in today’s world.”
On a personal level, Parks struggled with her identity growing up; a self-confessed tomboy who was super sensitive and “uncool”, she says it was like “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.” By the time she reached 17, she shaved her head, figured out she was bisexual and produced/wrote an album’s worth of material.
Growing up in South West London, half Nigerian, a quarter Chadian and a quarter French, Arlo Parks learned to speak French before English. A quiet child, she’d write short stories and create fantasy worlds, later journaling and then obsessing over spoken word poetry, reading American poets such as Ginsberg and Jim Morrison and watching old Chet Baker performances on YouTube. These days she references Nayyirah Waheed, Hanif Abdurraqib and Iain S. Thomas as her favorite modern poets, and it is clear that their works are as influential on her songwriting as any musician; books too, such as The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Parks says, “the way Murakami writes in that book is how I aspire to write my songs; gritty and sensitive and human.”
Fela Kuti’s Water and Otis Redding’s Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay soundtracked Arlo Parks’ childhood, but it was aged around 13 that she discovered King Krule: an artist who would heavily influence the music she writes today. Later listening to more hip-hop (from Kendrick Lamar, MF Doom and Earl Sweatshirt to the more confessional sounds of Loyle Carner) and rock (Jimi Hendrix, Shilpa Ray and David Bowie), as well as the subdued, pained sounds of Keaton Henson, Sufjan Stevens and Julien Baker, Parks explains, “I would write stories so detailed you could taste them, while maintaining the energy and life of the hip-hop I loved.” There’s a visual, almost cinematic quality to her writing too, which is born from her love of horror films, streetwear and abstract art.