Kevin Parker, an Australian multi-instrumentalist, does it all for Tame Impala, a music project heavily influenced by the psychedelic rock of the late 60s and early 70s. While in the recording studio, Parker writes, produces, records, and performs all the music for the project.
When Tame Impala goes on tour, Parker plays guitar and does vocals, while accompanied by Dominic Simper on synthesizer and guitar, Jay Watson on synthesizer, vocals, and guitar, Cam Avery on bass guitar and vocals, and Julien Barbagallo on drums and vocals.
Tame Impala began in Perth in 2007. Parker began home-recording the project, posting multiple tracks on Myspace. Multiple record labels took interest, and he eventually signed with Modular Recordings in 2008. Now, Tame Impala is signed to Interscope Records in the US and Fiction Records in the UK.
After releasing several singles and EPs, Innerspeaker, Tame Impala’s debut studio album, was released in 2010 and certified gold in Australia. This was followed up by Lonerism, which reached platinum status in Australia and received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. Tame Impala’s third album, Currents, was released in 2015, also winning various awards such as the ARIA Awards for Best Rock Album and Album of the Year and the APRA Award for Song of the Year for the track “Let it Happen.” Tame Impala recently released their fourth album, The Slow Rush, in February 2020.
Several Tame Impala tracks have gained mainstream popularity. “The Less I Know the Better,” a disco-influenced single with a trippy music video, has over 600 million plays on Spotify. “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and “Let It Happen” have over 200 million plays, and multiple other tracks have over 100 million.
Parker’s unique songwriting techniques contribute to the different feel Tame Impala offers listeners. Parker usually writes the lyrics after deciding the melody and timing and tries to synchronize certain words with the strongest parts of the melody. He insists on the words being meaningful, but at the same time, he prefers the meaning to be open and ambiguous so that everybody can get something out of the lyrics. He typically writes from a persona rather than a specific story.
Parker has stated that he is motivated to think of new songs every day, but he usually forgets them. He waits for songs to come to him, and then produces many short demos that he narrows down to create his albums.
Tame Impala fits somewhere between the boundaries of neo-psychedelia, psychedelic rock, and psychedelic pop. The balance between these genres shifts constantly with every new album. Parker uses phasing, delay, reverb, and fuzz heavily on Tame Impala tracks. Several diverse artists inspired Tame Impala’s sound, including Britney Spears, My Bloody Valentine, and The Flaming Lips. Parker has also stated that he admires lo-fi music and that it heavily influenced the early days of Tame Impala. Much of his music reflects feelings of loneliness he experienced growing up with an unstable family life, bringing an alien and dreamy sound. The music of Tame Impala has a unique ability to both chill you out and take you to another world.