Music Q&A:
Anton Newcombe and Tess Parks

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Born in Berlin in early 2014 and nurtured over the following summer, I Declare Nothing is a collaboration between Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe, due for release on 29 June. Under the mentorship of Creation Records founder Alan McGee, Parks released her debut album Blood Hot in 2013. Newcombe is the leading member of Brian Jonestown Massacre – a collective that has had a revolving line-up over its 14 albums and various well documented ups and downs. They play 12 July, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds and 13 July, Ruby Lounge, Manchester.

How did your collaboration come about?
Anton Newcombe: Believe it or not I really like working with other people. I like just playing music and thought quite a bit about having another project and that perhaps I could get people to just focus on the music for a change. Lo and behold, God answered my prayers.
Tess Parks: God answered my prayers as well! It’s an honour and privilege to work with Anton. I basically just messaged him saying I was coming to Berlin and we decided to record some songs together. I never thought we’d actually make a whole record though.

How would you describe the music you make together and what new areas have you each explored in the collaboration?
AN: I think it’s simple music – a platform for Tess to explore her writing and singing. For me another opportunity to be creative, and minimal. I always wanted to play vox fuzz in a band – I’ve had my guitars and used the sound for over 20 years but it’s taken this long to make it happen.
TP: I think it’s simple music as well… Anton gave me this great opportunity to really flourish and grow as an artist. I think I’ve become a better songwriter from working with him.

As someone who has been immersed in the industry for years, and a relative newcomer, what have you learnt from each other?
AN: I think Tess has an open mind whereas I kind of know what I’m looking for even when I am exploring new ground, and ultimately that’s a plus in this project.
TP: I’ve basically been taught by the master. Working with someone who has such a distinct sound and vision, and watching him work was life changing.

Anton – what’s it like working with one person compared to a collective as in BJM?
AN: Well, we have a group and I hope they don’t end up getting put off that we named the project after our names. But I actually have a pretty heavy hand in this – so far we both see eye to eye, except for the dayglo pink shirts.

Tess – you’ve benefitted from the guidance of Alan McGee and now Anton. Do you think a mentor is important for young musicians? And have there been areas they have struggled to advise you on as a female musician?
TP: I couldn’t have lucked out more meeting these two people… I feel totally blessed to know them. I can’t really even put into words how much they have positively affected me. Having mentors is important. Absolutely.
I have personally never experienced any sort of sexism in the music industry… maybe it will happen at some point, maybe it won’t. Their advice has been totally solid – about music and life in general.

Apart from music, do you have much common ground?
TP: We tend to agree on a lot of things… except the hot pink tour shirts!

Antonia Charlesworth

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Anton Newcombe and Tess Parks

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