Parabola West releases new album & fantasy art book

Renee Jones talks to Parabola West to learn about her new album and fantasy art book that was released recently.

What brought you to New Zealand, and why did you choose Raglan as your home? 

I arrived in New Zealand in 2003, and I instantly fell in love with the country. 

I was living in Auckland CBD when I met my husband, David, and I really thought of myself as a city girl.  The idea of living off-grid up a mountain in rural Raglan would have seemed ridiculous to me back then.   But over the years, we both started to feel really drawn to a complete lifestyle change. The rat race was exhausting, and we would dream about one day buying a piece of land and living completely off-grid.  One day we decided to stop talking about it and start actioning it. So, we each made a list of what we wanted in a location, went to the map, and Raglan ticked every box. 

When did you start playing music, and when did you realize this was what you wanted to do? 

Part of me always knew that creating and performing my own music was what I wanted to do, but it took me a long time to find the courage to put myself out there as a solo artist. I started songwriting and teaching myself the piano as a teenager, but at the time it was a very private thing I did to process my emotions. I joined a band in my early 20s, and that decision really changed the direction of my life. 

When I came to NZ I ended up taking a 10-year break from music to focus on a career in recruitment. I still had a keyboard and wrote songs, but it became a private thing again.  My husband kept encouraging me to record some of my songs, and so in 2013 I asked a friend with a home studio if he’d help me make an EP. That project re-ignited my passion for music, and I’ve never looked back.

  Where does the name Parabola West come from? 

When I was first learning about off-grid living, I decided to make a parabolic solar cooker in the back yard.  Because I’m a nerd. During that process, I became very interested in the way the parabolic curve focuses the sunlight into one fixed point to create an intense beam of heat. I realized that when I focus all of my emotions into writing a song, I become like a parabola. Hence the name! The West part is my actual married name.

‘Stars Will Light the Way’ has been five years in the making – how did the concept for the album emerge? 

After I released and toured the EP ‘Purity of Weakness’, I decided to only release singles until I was ready to drop a full-length album.  By that stage, I had become interested in sound healing frequencies, and I began recording all my music in A=432Hz to promote feelings of wellness and relaxation. I noticed a few common themes emerging in my new songs, such as a reverence towards nature, the night sky, and all the elements. It all felt very easy as it came together, and energetically I could feel that there was something different and special happening.

You’ve also released a limited edition fantasy art book – at what part of the album process did this idea come to you? 

The Deluxe Album Book idea came to me about halfway through the recording process.  I was thinking about what physical format was relevant these days, and I decided to play a little game in my head. “If anything were possible, how would I present this album to the world?”

That’s when the characters for each song started forming in my head. 

What if I could create a lyric book full of amazing visuals to help bring the songs to life in a truly immersive way?  What if you could listen to the music, read the lyrics, and take in amazing artwork pertaining to each song whilst receiving the benefits of healing frequencies – wouldn’t that be so rad? A multi-sensory experience, engaging your eyes, ears, and energy!

So that’s what I did. 

What is next for Parabola West? 

I think an album tour is in order. The plan is a summer tour in NZ followed by a summer tour in the northern hemisphere. Woohoo!

We are heading into winter, which many people struggle with. You seem to embrace all seasons – what aspects of winter bring you joy?  

This is a great question, because there is so much to love about each unique season.  Winter in NZ is lush and green, and the vibrant colours are everywhere. Rainbows are the most epic in winter! Cosy fireplaces draw you to sit and relax and recharge. Outdoor fires are safe and joyful in winter. Layers! I can wear three of my favourite garments at once and call it an outfit during the winter. Finally, winter is soup season and I find a lot of joy in slow cooking a soup on the potbelly stovetop. Nature has a wisdom about where energy is best focused during each season, and winter is permission to focus inwards to nurture the roots.

by Renee Jones