Rising R&B/dance singer Parker Polhill breaks down his new single 'WYB?', invites country singer Brett Young to collaborate on his upcoming album
Atlanta based R&B up-and-comer Parker Polhill talks about discovering music at a young age, the inspiration from his late uncle, dream collaborations and more.
On Thursday, indie R&B/dance singer Parker Polhill dropped his new single 'WYB?'. Standing for 'Where You Been', the highly anticipated release is a melodic duet between Parker and his long-time friend and first-time collaborator, nineteen-year-old Abby Rhodes. It's an outright love song, one that gathers its momentum through the interplay between the male and female perspectives on a relationship that reeks of unrequited love.
"I had this relationship with this girl who was dating somebody else and she basically told me that she was waiting for the right time to break up with him because she wanted to be with me. It was that kinda thing," Parker laid out the background to the inspiration behind the track in an exclusive interview with Meaww.
"Long story short, she ended up picking him and I never got any closure from it. So the songwriting process was kinda cool with this one 'cause it's obviously a duet with Abby [Rhodes], who's incredible by the way. But I wrote the female parts as well as the male parts. So the female, lyrically at least, is what I think the girl was thinking because I never really got any closure. So it's my perspective to it all, but with the producer who produced the song and Abby Rhodes, we all sort of collaborated and came up with this cool way of giving the girl's perspective too. That's kind of how it all came together."
"So the writing was like a sounding board for you to think about both perspectives. Would you say that the whole process got you closer towards closure?" I probed.
"I'm not sure if I'll ever get the closure. I mean, I wasn't in love or anything so it wasn't that big a deal, but you know closure is always nice. I guess I have closure now or at least I assume I do, but you never really know," Parker summed up, weighing his words carefully.
Listen to Parker's 'WYB? (feat. Abby Rhodes) below via Spotify. Apple Music subscribers can listen to it here.
With 'WYB?', along with his other two singles that dropped this year - 'On One' and 'International', Parker Polhill seems to have firmly asserted a shift in his sonic style from his early EDM-infused days. Compared to his breakout single 'Fly', which dropped in 2016 and went on to garner over 7 million views on YouTube, his 2018 work leans more towards a pop-heavy R&B sound with the electronics playing second fiddle to Parker's distinct falsetto.
"EDM is great music. I still love it," Parker explains his shift. "I still do a little bit of EDM music. But whenever I do EDM, I'm more of a featured artist on somebody else's work. I'm going to continue doing EDM music. It's just that when it comes to my singles and my albums, I'm not strictly an EDM artist. It's just where I started. Early on, I found some success with 'Fly' and 'Angel' that people from Canada and Germany and Amsterdam reached out to me and sent me songs. That was early on in my career so I'd just recording everything people sent to me and just practice and practice... some of those songs made it out and did pretty well."
"I'm definitely still interested in EDM, but when it comes down to what my album sounds like and everything, it's going to be more of the R&B and pop feel, you know," he adds.
Indeed, Parker has been splitting his time between recording studios in LA and Phoenix, chipping away at new material. When I asked him when we could expect to see a new album, Parker confirmed that he'd be dropping two or three more singles through the year. "And next year, Lord willing everything goes right... which it never does," he adds with a touch of playful cynicism, "Hopefully next summer my album will be ready but you know how that works!".
Parker's musical journey began at the ridiculously young age of just eight! After being discovered as a naturally gifted bathroom singer by his mother, who Parker adds is "a supportive woman who's always about 'follow your dreams' and that kinda thing," she sent Parker over to his uncle's, who he says was "the only person we really knew in music." Impressed by Parker's talent, his uncle started working with him, taking him over to the studio where Parker would work on "little jingles and melodies." But he stepped away from music briefly in high school, where he claims he became "the football guy" for a while.
"Sports kind of took over for a little while and I didn't really start pursuing music again till I was 19 when I ended up leaving college. Around that time, my uncle actually passed away," Parker revealed as I offered my condolences.
"I was kind of in a transition period in life. I just left school. I didn't graduate or anything. I was trying to figure out somewhere to go or what I wanted to do. And then he passed away and everything was just kind of pointing towards music. That's when I started recording the EDM songs. So it all kind of came together at the right time and I haven't looked back since," he says.
I asked Parker if his uncle's passing could be pinpointed as a moment of true calling for the 22-year-old singer. "Yeah, for sure. You gotta look at all the positives in a negative situation you know," Parker offered. "There's growth with both negativity and positivity. You just gotta make the best situation out a bad one," he added.
Parker cut his teeth in the music industry performing at Eddie's Attic in Atlanta Georgia, a venue where artists such as Justin Bieber, John Mayer, and Sugarland regularly performed and developed their fanbases. With a desire to immerse himself in all aspects of creating songs, Parker moved to Music City (Nashville, TN) and studied audio engineering for nearly a year at Dark Horse Recording Studios, the popular studio utilized by major-label and independent artists such as Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, and Reliant K.
"I was only up in Nashville for 10 months, but it was solid," Brett says of his experience there. "It was right when I decided to pursue music. Going to Nashville was the start of that. Because firstly, I got into audio engineering. I did a course at Dark Horse Studio which was great. They got me really comfortable with the studio to create my own demos. I can produce a little bit now and there's a lot of growth when it comes to the actual production of music and my abilities there."
Speaking about Nashville, Parker went on to speak about his good friend Brett Young, who is a formidable rising force in country music at the moment. "But Nashville is great because it put me in a music town. I mean it's a lot of country music obviously... I have a good friend named Brett Young who's pretty much a superstar now. He just had his fourth single off of his first album go No. 1 on the Country charts. So I got to watch that kinda journey. Living in Nashville, I really got to see how the beginning of a music career happens on a big scale."
"So Nashville... the biggest growth for me was just learning how to be comfortable in a studio and how to EQ, compress and all that stuff. And also being around Brett, I kinda got a glimpse of the process I was gonna get my self into."
Although both Brett and Parker come from polar opposites of the music world, at least genre-wise, I ventured to ask if we could see a possible collaboration sometime soon. "Ummm... yeah!," Parker said with a chuckle and stopped short. "We haven't really talked about it, but we've written a song before. Brett, I and this guy called Adam Hambridge... who's also a great Country writer... I think he just got signed, he just got his first No. 1 actually... So I got to sit in room and create a song with them."
"But Bret if you're hearing this, let's make a song together... We're both on. Do you wanna be on my album Bret?" So there we go, it's official! Brett Young, if you're reading this kind Sir, there is a certain friend of yours who just requested some help on his upcoming album!
Chainsmokers and Shawn Mendes are two names that often come up when Parker Polhill is discussed, especially in terms of style. When I asked Parker if he would list them as major influences, he agreed immediately. "They're at the top of the pop game," Parker said. "They're kinda shaping what pop music is right now along with Drake and The Weeknd and those guys. They're awesome. If I ever got the opportunity to collaborate with them, that'd be unreal! Shawn Mendes especially, he's someone I've studied quite a bit because I just love the way he carries himself, and the way his message resonates with positive energy for his fans," he adds.
When I asked the Atlanta-based singer what kind of music he listens to these days, he admitted that his tastes lean quite a bit towards R&B and rap. "That's the Atlanta in me," he says, acknowledging the scene that has sprouted legends like Ludacris, T.I., Big Boi, Andre 3000, Gucci Mane and Killer Mike to name a few. Parker listens to "everything Drake" and is also hooked to Travis Scott's 'Astroworld', which is currently sitting on top of the Billboard charts. He also name-dropped Ty Dolla $ign and Bebe Rexha among the many hip-hop artist that he's been listening to.
Parker just wrapped up a tour with Travis Garland that saw him make pitstops at California and Texas, with five shows each. He revealed that he has a few dates coming up soon but the details are yet to be ironed out and are currently under wraps. But he did reveal that October will see him in the North East. "I'm not sure what my favorite part is, performing or creating. But you know, performing man, it's a good time," Parker said, who looks forward to being on the road again.