Parra For Cuva walks us thru his ‘Paspatou’ LP
Parra For Cuva is the alias for young German musician Nicolas Demuth; a wildly talented and widely respected platinum selling artist from Cologne. He took an early interest in the piano styles first of Debussy, and later of jazz. Demuth moved to Berlin to study Audio Design and has risen to prominence with his releases since.
Parra For Cuva’s new LP’s dreamy, melancholic title track ‘Paspatou’, which was released recently alongside the album announcement, ventures into a more pop-leaning territory than Demuth’s earlier releases, but it’s his artistry and individuality that continues to set him apart in an oversaturated electronic music scene.
His slow, structured and melody-laden electronica connects the listener’s heart and soul with their body and brain to create an all-encompassing musical soundscape.
We asked him to walk us through each of the tracks, below and you can listen & stream to the album whilst you read about it.
This song has a weird little story behind it. I often record ideas when I am out at a concert or in the street but sometimes you see, or in this case hear, something on TV that brings about the inspiration for a song.
There is a small TV station in Germany called RBB, and its main program is about local stuff in and around Berlin. One day I was watching a documentary about a small village in North Germany. I still have no idea why I watched it but suddenly a little string melody started playing so I took out my phone and recorded it.
The next day I had a good friend of mine replay and modulate it on his guitar. It was pretty boring so I left it where it was. A month later I went through some old projects and rediscovered it. After pitching the tempo and cutting the guitar, suddenly it all made sense.
Out Here With Us
Writing this song involved more structured and planned songwriting. I found a sample from London based group Deep Throat Choir. At first it didn’t really sound like it was to my taste but I remembered the Song ‘Marijuan’ from Chrome Sparks where he pitched down a choir in a very elegant way. Inspired by him I did the same thing and after a bit of sample tweaking and a four chord progression played on the Juno 6, I had my chorus part working.
The main guitar melody was played by an old school friend who actually taught me to use Ableton when we were graduating. His specialities are playing “fireplace guitar” music where he just jams and jams for hours. He stopped at my studio 2 years ago and we recorded a one-hour improvisation of his and after a bit of searching, I found a little sweet melody. The rest of the synth is built out of the guitar sample by editing small parts to get a kind of pad sound. I also have a little Canadian guitar with four strings, which I used to round up top notes. Everything you play on it sounds like a soundtrack about the Canadian Railway straight away.
Some people that know me and have visited my studio will know that I have a huge table for Kalimbas and anything that produces a mallet sound, such as Hang Drums and so on. Cupa Cupa started on my Kalimbas by playing little melodies on them and adding more to it – you might be able to hear these very clearly at the beginning. As Kalimbas always end up sounding African, I had a recording of African kids from Ghana clapping and singing, which I always love to have on my tracks as it makes everything a bit mystical.
Temperature of Traveling
This started out with an Akai MPC beat, which you might be able to hear in the beginning of the song. The writing process was very much influenced by the instruments in my room – once again, the Kalimbas play a big role. I bought a high-hat and a symbol; even when we, as electronic musicians, like to sample drums from machines or libraries, my advice to producers is to record their own samples by getting parts of a real drum kit. I mostly record every sound with a pair of condenser Stereo Mics. Afterwards, I warm them up with a tool called the Vintage Warmer. I also used some of the Soundtoys plugins.
Cleopatra feat May
This song is also a very structured composition. What’s interesting to mention on this track is that I sometimes love to write full orchestra compositions, which I learned at university whilst studying Sound Design. When you do so you always end up with a very round and full sounding score. The company Output produced a VST called Analogue Strings which I used in this track – you can get a very special string sound with just one click.
On this Song, I had a lot of musicians working with me. One is the Berlin-based singer and songwriter May. I got to know her while working together with LA Beat maker Robot Koch. We met in the studio and I played her this really rough idea of the song. She came up with some lines a few weeks later. In the end, I built most of the instrumentals around the vocals.
The plan here was to produce a progressive track that has its climax at the very end. During the process, a lot of ideas mainly involving different types of vocals resulted in it becoming a very different track. I started to layer a lot of sounds at the beginning to create a general base for the song, from which everything could be built upon. I do that by recording a different kind of arpeggios and then I change speed notation and articulation. Also, I use small recorded sounds like mallets or string instruments to add on top of this basic ambience. On top, I wrote one more Kalimba melody and the main idea was born.
My mother who likes to be updated weekly hates this song but it is one of the most important tunes for me on the album. Early 2017 I went to the lakes north of Berlin with a friend for 2 weeks, with a view to finding a calm, simple spot to write some music. In the end nothing sounded right; the only good parts I had was what turned ultimately became this particular song. It took one more year and endless hours of work to finish it, during which it changed completely from the original idea. The big breakthrough came with the harp snippets in the chorus. Every time I hear it, it characterises everything this album stands for.
Miss is Ou
Here I worked with Berlin based Singer m.lost. We had a couple of good sessions in the studio where we recorded all in all three songs together. Sometimes it’s very hard to choose one song which you like to keep on working on, or one that has the best foundation to develop. We were sitting together drinking some good beer and wrote the text together, which was the most fun. I am very happy about how this one turned out, especially his kind of singing as it is something I have never been confronted with. The mixing process was a very long and tricky one.
Nevis started with a harp sample recorded from a vinyl called South American Harp Music – I always like to buy vinyl at the flee market. Most of the time I search for world music records. You buy them for a few bucks and most of the time you just find shit but sometimes it holds a great sample. Also special about the song is the South American chanting from a bunch of men and a young girl speaking in the middle of the track.
I’ve been to India 5 times already. Most of the time I just play gigs and go back home right after, but in 2017 I had the joy of traveling through the country for six weeks. I recorded a lot of stuff in temples and on the streets. The bowl sounds and the ambient noise is all recorded in Hampi and Jodhpur.
While you Sleep
The title came to me at night when I was listening to the raw instrumental material. It just entered into my head and sounded perfect for this mellow tune. It was one of the most interesting writing processes of the album, as this song was recorded entirely with live instruments. For me as an producer that spends his time mostly in front of the computer, this is quite a step forward and definitely something I’d like to do again.
Parra For Cuva ‘Paspatou’ is out now you can grab a copy here.