Parallels and Radio Wolf have for years collaborated to great effect, but something supremely special is on the horizon. The two have written seven new celestial songs for Eric Demeusy’s forthcoming sci-fi film, Proximity. Today, Vehlinggo premieres the first single, “Lost Angel,” and pairs it with an insightful interview with the artists.
Proximity is about a young scientist working for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who is abducted by extraterrestrials. People don’t believe him, so he becomes obsessed with finding proof of his experience. This leads him on a wondrous journey of discovery.
Demeusy is an Emmy-winning VFX artist who has worked on such cultural touchstones as Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, and Tron: Legacy. In the hands of Parallels and Radio Wolf, listeners get a blend of lush and romantic synth-pop with rock overtones paired with richly entrancing vocals and experimental sound design. It all orbits a retrofuturistic blast of sonic motivation.
“Oliver and Holly were a joy to work with — totally fresh and collaborative in spirit,” Demeusy said in a statement. “Their songcraft talents and sophisticated production values created just the right sonic emotion for various sequences of the movie. I’d work with them again in a minute.”
Film composer Jermaine Stegall did the final mixing of the songs into the film at Skywalker Sound, located in George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch in California.
Interview with Parallels and Radio Wolf
Vehlinggo: You two did a great job of imbuing a sense of the celestial in these songs, including “Lost Angel.” There’s a harmony here with a true sense of intimacy — even though intimacy is often associated with much closer, more grounded themes. What type of conceptualizing goes into creating work with that sometimes paradoxical dynamic of the celestial vs. the grounded?
Parallels: Thanks! When we dove into these songs, we had read the script and it inspired a few key lines that formed the foundation for the rest of the lyric. There’s a very famous line from Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock” — “we are stardust” — the concept that we are simultaneously in the universe, while comprising the universe. When I want to get philosophical and existential that seems to me always to be one of the most fascinating things to think about. So it’s a tome that the film also explores: How we relate to this life in time and space and its greater mysteries. Not to get too deep, but Oliver and I both found a common ground in that, so we put pen to paper.
Radio Wolf: The director’s script inspired a musical universe with a sense of wonder as its central theme. We developed this theme into the concept of fusing the celestial element of the film with the more earthbound human element. For example, in “Lost Angel” the synthesizer sounds suggest twinkling stars which merge into SFX of radio signals tuning in and out; this dreamlike soundscape evokes the celestial element of the film. When accompanied by the warmth and intimacy of Holly’s voice, the emotional lyrics, and the more gestural guitar instrumentation, this dreamlike soundscape becomes grounded — brought back to earth. So, with careful production and mixing, the sonic juxtaposition of the celestial and the earthbound elements, creates a kind of third dimension — a musical harmony that overrides paradox.
“To me, it’s about acknowledging the unknown, and in doing so, letting it reflect our own experience.” – Holly Dodson, Parallels.
What is the message of the song and how does that fit into the film’s story? (Is the kidnapped protagonist the lost angel or is it the extraterrestrial entity, or perhaps something else?)
Parallels: To me, it’s about acknowledging the unknown, and in doing so, letting it reflect our own experience. Nothing is known or secure, and that’s one of the most “known” things. The lost angel is the mystery box, something unfamiliar but comforting. We’re always trying to find “it,” but likely never will, so it’s about hanging out in the unknown
Radio Wolf: The film’s hero, Isaac, is on a search for the truth. He feels lost because he’s searching into the unknown — somewhere between the stars and his earthbound existence. This is also a universal feeling. We all feel lost at times — in search of something. Our dreams and imaginings of “what’s out there” unify us as humans, inspiring the lyrics, “…come closer to me lost angel.”
You’ve mentioned that there’s a spiritual element to your music for Proximity. Can you elaborate?
Parallels: I think it’s spiritual in its questioning of our existence on the planet and in the greater universe — super existential. The film seemed really existential to me — looking at what’s important on this earthly planet and how our existence, and aliens, fit into a bigger picture.
Radio Wolf: In the film, our hero goes through an awakening — a cosmic transformation. We translated this musically into an awakening or freeing up of the spirit. This meant creating an ethereal, supernatural sound. Dreamy, spacey electronic sonics freely permeate the album. The sounds flow from moments of the very lush and romantic to the brash and uncanny, expressing a freed spirit with a cosmic heart.
“The sounds flow from moments of the very lush and romantic to the brash and uncanny, expressing a freed spirit with a cosmic heart.” – Oliver Blair, Radio Wolf.
What are key colors, moods, and themes from the film that you sought to integrate into your songs?
Parallels: There’s a running theme of being an outsider, being “questioned” about your personal experience. So it wasn’t a difficult perspective to dive into because I’ve always sympathized with the ones outside looking in. But it isn’t lonely because there’s always someone out there who shares a similar experience or sympathy — so it’s an electric blue, a light in the window that welcomes you home.
Radio Wolf: Eric’s film has an epic quality. The great challenge was to produce a cohesive album that delivered this quality yet, at the same time, craft individual songs hitting specific moods in key scenes. We wanted the overall sound experience to feel like a real life-force with a large emotional spectrum — an aurora — a wild, colorful palette with emphasis on blue sky at night sparkling with millions of shimmering white stars.
Where is the best spot you’ve ever stargazed?
Parallels: My aunt and uncle live in northern Ontario, and when I was a kid my family used to go up to their old house, deep in the woods, so that’s where I saw the most stars. I still get excited when I see stars in the city, though there are much fewer than the country. And, of course, I always try to take time to bow to the moon!
Radio Wolf: While on holiday, as a teenager, on the East Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. There, the sky can be very bright at night and the air is very clear. Apparently, when I was about three years old, my dad took me outside one night in Montreal to show me the full moon and I said, pointing to it, “Shhh, listen to the moon,” (which would make a good title for an instrumental).