My Inspiration: Parissa Zarifi – Written In The Sand | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Middlesbrough-born folk/acoustic singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Parissa Zarifi releases her debut EP, Written In The Sand on Thursday 15th September. The album is available via all good streaming services and physical copies can be purchased from Sound It Out Records, Stockton, or at Parrissa’s launch show at The Twisted Lip, Middlesbrough on the same date. 

Here, the artist tells us more about what inspired this release…

Whether it be their vocal delivery, dynamic performances, lyrical imagery or improvisation; the likes of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Devendra Banhart and Chris Cornell have been major influences on my musical style. I’m also a big fan of metal/alternative such as HIM and AFI, as well as traditional folk songs! All of these sounds have lit a spark within me. My music is purely autobiographical – I can’t write unless I feel or have experienced something. There has to be something to say.

People often ask how I would define my musical style or genre. Folk? Country? Americana? The answer is…I don’t know! I find it hard to step back and disconnect from what I write or see it through an audience’s lens. I’m in it. I am it. 

I love to explore shape within my songs using dynamics in both my guitar technique and vocal delivery, leaping from my soprano head voice into the powerful and gritty lower register. I like to go on a journey as I perform and hope that the audience feels that too.

You might be wondering why it’s taken me so many years to perform, record and share this EP, and the answer is, my mindset. I’ve finally found a way to overcome the barriers I created for myself and replaced them with excitement about my music (rather than feeling so anxious that I would cancel gigs or never want to play). Recording and performing my own music has been a dream since I can remember; anything beyond this is a bonus. If one person connects with my story or feels something when they listen, then that’s more than I could hope for. I’ve developed a strong belief in myself and my work as an artist in recent years, and now is the time to be heard.

Written In The Sand ~ “never alone, for my shadow follows me home”
This track was born in 2019 as a chord progression on guitar but quickly became more. It perfectly captures my lyrical style; the imagery I use to express emotions within the lived experience and those I felt at the time of composition. What has become apparent is how often I refer to nature, which I’ve developed a much stronger connection with in recent years. Perhaps, subconsciously, I was celebrating that connection within my songs?

Entwined In The Heat ~ “hope dangles on a string, leading me to where I fear I’ve already been”
A confessional song written in my bedroom that I used to be scared to play in case people understood the back story! The original demo was spun on BBC Tees Music Introducing in 2018 which was a huge moment for me, but the song has definitely evolved since, alongside my vocal technique. The recording process with Mark McGurrin for the EP allowed me to explore the song further and further cement my goal in terms of capturing my essence as a musician. Within the improvised violin solo, the technical elements in bowing and tuning have been kept as raw as possible in the mix as I wanted the EP to be an honest reflection of what I do. In terms of inspiration, I particularly love the violin part in Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’, as you hear the true character and realness of Rivera’s playing.

Find Yourself In The Dark ~ “a shadow can lead to a brighter place if you only look for a spark”
A bit of a clue in the title, I wrote this one in the dark! Late March 2018, 1:00 AM in Newcastle. I couldn’t sleep so I started writing a poem about all the memories that were in my head. I began picking chords on guitar and singing the words, to which the vocal melody came instantly, with the entire song developing that night. After my recent performance of the track at Last Train Home Festival, an audience member said: “Your imagery took me to the place where you were; a cold night, and how you felt, I went there too. That’s great storytelling.”

Sing For My Soul ~ “each day I wake to find my shadow growing old”
Completed in the summer of 2016, ‘Sing For My Soul’ has always been a favourite of mine but one I’ve rarely performed. It captures how freeing, therapeutic, and euphoric I find singing and creating music to be. My favourite part of recording this track had to be the improvised violin solo which took the section to another level. I recorded one take then went straight into a second without listening back. Mark and I then listened to each and felt like there was something missing, so I suggested we listen to both takes together. We found that, subconsciously, I’d played a harmonious countermelody which was absolutely mind blowing!

Finding myself as a violin player has only developed in the past 5 to 10 years as I began jamming with many different musicians of various styles, picking up harmonious gems along the way. Improvisation was the piece that had been missing for me. I’d always been restricted by sheet music and direction, but this just felt natural and euphoric. In performance, I enjoy experimenting and layering violin melodies with a loop pedal in the moment, creating a unique musical experience for every audience.

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