If there’s one idea that encapsulates both LA duo Paris Texas’ laid-back, men-of-few-words energy as individuals, and the genre-bending music that they create together, it’s effortlessness. “To be honest, it was just this unspoken thing that’s happened over time,” one half of the pair, Felix, shrugs over Zoom of their unassuming origin story. “We just figured out at a certain point that we were going to be making music together.”
For a duo who’ve taken the industry by storm over the past nine months, Felix and producer Louie Pastel seem completely unfazed by the concept of being a hype band - perhaps unsurprisingly given that their seemingly-rapid ascent has actually been a long time coming. The childhood friends have been making music together for almost ten years now, but were unable to afford to record during the first three of them; instead, they chose to perform as much as possible, and to keep writing at every opportunity.
Then, when the pair were able to pool enough cash together to fund some recording time, they were met with resistance from people who weren’t interested in working with inexperienced artists; again, Paris Texas decided to work everything out by themselves. Luckily, Louie had been making beats since his teenage years, and had some understanding of how to craft a body of work that was fit for release.
Fast forward to May 2021 and, following the shockwaves of ‘HEAVY METAL’ - their immediately attention-grabbing debut single, released in February of the same year, that blended industrial metal guitar lines with electronic beats and laid the foundations of their knack for decimating any song that they write over - the eight-track ‘BOY ANONYMOUS’ landed. Demonstrating their amalgamation of influences, it showcased indie flare in ‘AREA CODE’ and touched on trap in ‘PACK 4 DA LOW’, the duo displaying a seamless and adaptable flow, all packaged up together in Louie and Felix’s distinctly DIY way.
Both believe there’s a lot of pressure that comes from putting out your debut project, and so they decided to shun away from calling it an EP, album or mixtape, instead coining it a ‘practise’. “They were demos, and I feel as though there wasn’t a goal in mind,” explains Louie. “When you say you’re going to put out a project, it’s like your thesis; you’re making a statement. Whether it’s your life or religion, you want to say something. We were feeling a lot of things at once and it was kind of jumbled. A lot of albums that I like have a consistency which I enjoy. This isn’t very clear [in that way] but we were just making music and having fun.”
“We’re not being up our own asses or pretentious, claiming that this is the new wave.”
— Louie Pastel
Who: LA pair sitting at the most thrilling, energetic end of hip-hop.
In three words: Brockhampton on heat.
Achievements so far: Dropping two impossibly exciting projects in 2021, ready to take up their crown on tour next year.
Most likely to: Send you home from one of their gigs with a ripped t-shirt, one shoe and an unshakeable grin.
A world away from prescriptive labelling, the most notable thing about the raw nature of ‘BOY ANONYMOUS’ was that it captured a moment in time for the band, setting them immediately apart from any of their contemporaries. Paris Texas is a meeting of minds of two people who “are both evolving and learning at different times,” they say. With no heed paid to making a grand opening statement, the release showed an insight into a duo at the beginning phase of their career, with no outside influence or social media pressure clouding their judgement.
There’s something instinctive about the way the duo move through King Krule moodiness in ‘FORCE OF HABIT’ to disorienting bass lines on ‘SITUATIONS’, all the while staying true to their hip hop roots. In a society that enjoys putting things in boxes, Paris Texas are something of an anomaly - and it’s fair to say that they quite enjoy the fact that people are unable to completely define who they are and what they’re doing, too.
“Right now, there are only a few people doing things that are different - and I mean being different without being corny,” says Louie. “We’re not being up our own asses or pretentious, claiming that this is the new wave. We’re having fun and people seem to be having fun with us.”
However, heading into 2022 with their star rising further than ever, there’s little room for anonymity. How do Paris Texas now feel about letting people into their world, considering the critically-acclaimed reception that ‘BOY ANONYMOUS’ has had? When DIY last spoke to them, Louie was simply hoping that the release would be memorable. Surprisingly, he doesn’t feel as though it has been, but is well aware that real context is simply a thing that comes with time.
“As a fan of myself, when we put it out I was like, ‘Holy shit, this is for real’, but I think it was just a moment and we need to keep it up. People are still waiting for us to prove ourselves,” he says earnestly. “I think if we do the next project and it’s critically acclaimed, people will remember ‘BOY ANONYMOUS’ and it will be a moment, but right now, people are still waiting for the actual project.”
“We’re still learning a lot, and there’s a lot that needs to be done before we open it up.”
Whilst ‘BOY ANONYMOUS’ was released under the label of a “practise,” its follow up ‘Red Hand Akimbo’ - unveiled in October - was a fully formed EP. With a heavier focus on guitars, and jankier, almost disconcerting beats, it feels as though Paris Texas are experimenting with creating a sound truly unique to themselves; as they say in ‘Dr. Aco’s Magical Bullets’, “I am bigger than my last song,” and whether through manipulating their voices or adding in vocal samples which allude to a deeper narrative, there are surely greater things in the works.
The EP is still as formless as ‘BOY ANONYMOUS’ was, and lacks the consistency that Louie previously mentioned, but it feels as though perhaps this was more of a conscious decision than on its predecessor. The duo mention time and time again today that they’re still learning, and it feels as though, when the time is right, all will be revealed.
In terms of what’s next for Paris Texas, they’re remaining tight-lipped, but it’s all part of a grander plan. They’re about to embark on a huge American tour with BROCKHAMPTON in spring; playing several-thousand-capacity venues every night, it’s set to be a completely different experience than the grassroots duo have ever had before. Then, once that’s over, it’s time to focus on new music. “We’re still learning a lot,” Felix reiterates again, “and there’s a lot that needs to be done before we open it up. Holding out as long as you can is really fun because it lets people interpret the art for what it is at the time. When they want to know something about you, they can just go to your music and that’s where they can be updated about something that’s going on. And in our age that’s kind of a dead thing; in the age of the internet, it’s hard to move like that…”
For a duo who burst onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere, before delivering some of the most innovative and interesting first moves to emerge in a while, it’s only fitting that Felix and Louie are still embracing the excitement of a little secrecy. As the saying goes, start as you mean to go on, and being unpredictable and hard to define is something that Paris Texas have thrived on since the word go.
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