It’s midday on a Thursday and I’ve just belled west London producer P-Rallel’s line. Usually it’s hard to get a minute with the 21 year old in between his club residency, hyping crowds as slowthai’s tour DJ, producing his own tracks and working with his Elevation/Meditation crew. But the pandemic has given him some room to breath in an otherwise relentlessly-paced lifestyle.
In spite of his more relaxed schedule he tells me that he’d spent his morning planning and checking emails ahead of the release of his sophomore EP ‘Soundboy’. It features other underground heavy-weights such as Greentea Peng and Louis Culture and represents the synthesis of his previously distinct abilities as a selector and producer. Despite having a team for all the logistics he enjoys being in the thick of it and helping out the rest of his crew when he can.
“I’ve got a manager, but the person I am I like to help and I like to be in the loop of things,” he tells me.
Raising his voice over stray phone notification noises he tells me that it was his father’s career as a DJ and childhood dance routines soundtracked by Timbaland and DIY beats that lead him to become a sought-after commodity.
“Before I did music I used to dance in a group called ‘Boy Blue’ in east London and there were two directors. One of the directors was a music producer so he made beats for us to dance to at all the shows,” he explains.
“It was a mix of like house, old school hip hop, RnB, it was a whole range, but I think dancing opened my mind to different melodies and stuff that other producers may not hear or see.”
This collective approach to building out compelling live shows appeared to have disseminated into everything P-Rallel does. After breezing through studying music at college he took up sound engineering, partly to uplift those around him. Though not 100 per cent sure where he’d end up, he got his head down and developed the busy work ethic that would be reflected in the rave-inspired cuts he now routinely produces.
“I was definitely supposed to do music, but just depended on where in music I was supposed to be… I didn’t ever aspire to be a massive sound engineer… It was just like I’m going to learn because it might help me out in future. There’s loads of people around me that needed someone to fill that space recording stuff so I might as well take on the job.”
“That’s one thing about music, maybe it’s not that clear in the music that gets promoted today, but in terms of the underground scene everybody sticks together. London is amazing because there’s always someone, usually a kid…”, he says as he pauses for dramatic effect.
“There’s always a kid,” he emphasises before continuing.
“Someone young doing something that you want to do and you can at least pick up what you want from them so you can both grow and learn together.”
Unsurprisingly P was once ‘that kid’.
Becoming quickly enlightened on his prodigal status as he reminisced on an impromptu studio session in his parent’s house when he was just 15 with two of the music industry’s heavy weights – Rejjie Snow and Playboi Carti.
“That was so random, that was essentially Twitter,” he says.
“Twitter helped me out, Rejjie just tweeted it out [That he was looking a studio session], I was the first to pick it up and then he was like, ‘oh yeah my boy Playboi Carti is coming with me’, I didn’t know who Playboi Carti was at the time. So that session to me at the time was just a normal session.”
Unfazed by what would have been an enormous moment for any artist let alone a teenager, he maintained that same composure when I ask about DJing for Zach Fox as a teen.
“I’ve always felt at ease especially because I was dancing on big stages so none of that stuff is overwhelming to me,” he explains as the line crackled a bit.
“The only thing that is overwhelming is possibly the aspect of it all coming together like ‘rah I just did that’. Like even you saying about this Zach Fox thing I totally forgot about that so it’s mad when you think about it…”
With so much in the crosshairs at any one time, it’s clearly difficult for all the experiences seep in. The manic nature of his club-centric world was confronted by a pause button this year in the shape of a global pandemic and allowed him to focus solely on the music.
“So quarantine has been amazing to me I’ve loved it. I swear I couldn’t have dreamt of making this EP a better way. ”
Seeing the silver linings in a dire situation, more words of gratitude and moments of reflection flowed freely as if it were the first post-quarantine words exchanged in a smoking area full of people promising never to take its hallowed grounds for granted again.
“Because of how fast paced from like summer last year to the beginning of this year was, with festivals, the touring situation and the residency at Phonox in London just always been on the go I felt like the whole quarantine thing it was a natural way of life saying ‘alright cool now let’s pay attention on this aspect of your career.'”
Having trotted across Europe with Ireland’s very own Soft Boy Records on supporting duties for slowthai, I’d imagined he met Kojaque and co. prior to the three week escapade. Despite both parties playing at the same Boiler Room the night before the Northampton rapper’s first leg kicked off, they hadn’t time to acquaint themselves.
“Funny enough we literally met on tour,” he remarks.
“I’d literally just jumped on the plane after the boiler room set to Dublin and met them on the tour bus.”
This non-stop approach is reflected in the first single from his forthcoming EP ‘Packed Bags’. Featuring fellow E/M collective member Louis Culture it encapsulates the art of trying to fit as much as you can into 24 hours – something P-Rallel has become increasingly accustomed to.
“It’s a journey because I go in a space where there is hella club nights back to back and then I’ll go in to a space where it’s just a studio sessions.”
“It can be heavy on the mind, but it’s fun.”
This lifestyle is often thrust upon any young creative looking to make a career in England’s capital. Especially in the underground scene. Collaboration, championing similar acts, grinding and exercising a DIY approach has become a tried and tested method for success.
“London is kinda like a train, think of it as a train and it’s constantly going round and round…”, he says as he draws circles in the air with his index finger, “and people are just hopping on, meeting new people hopping off when they need to, it’s just that type of energy”.
“There’s so much things in London to do this so much things to see loads of people creating things they just grinding. It’s mad to think London in terms of whole world is a very strong scene.”
While many artists get submerged in the waves of the capital’s bustling scene, P-Rallel has learnt to surf.
Photography: Adam Yousaf