As soon as you click play on Paris Texas’ debut single ‘HEAVY METAL’, you know that this isn’t your typical hip-hop duo. Guitars blast, drums crash, and basslines bellow, all while Louie Pastel and Felix maintain catchy flows and deliveries vibrant with confidence. It’s a breath of fresh air, and a mosh pit barrage waiting to happen.
So who exactly are these guys? It’s an understandable question. It feels like they really came out of nowhere; that riff on ‘HEAVY METAL’ really is a knockout punch. The truth is, the idea for Paris Texas has been in the works for a hot minute. Felix, a south-central prospect with a knack for penning raps, and Louie, a Compton-raised producer-vocalist hybrid, met in high school, bonding over the output of internet legend Robb Bank$. They were avid Tumblr trawlers, but dedicated creatives, who are contrasting styles lead us to the unique duo we see doing numbers today.
This polymerisation of style and influence culminates in their debut project BOY ANONYMOUS, an 8 track trudge through a plethora of sounds. ‘HEAVY METAL’ is still as ferocious as when it first dropped. ‘FORCE OF HABIT’ is a rock-rap void of cliche, and versatile in grooves. ‘SITUATIONS’ sounds like Tyler, The Creator covering a Talking Heads song. It’s a mixed bag of the highest quality goods, setting the tone for a Paris Texas 2021. In celebration of this release, I hopped on a Zoom call with Louie and Felix to talk through artistic accidents, their creative superpower, and the beauty in musical imperfections.
First and foremost, congratulations on BOY ANONYMOUS. How are ya’ll feeling?
Felix: It’s been good man. We’ve just been chilling.
What’s it been like coming out the gate in this current climate of everyone being stuck inside?
F: It’s honestly been alright, I haven’t really noticed any difference.
Louie Pastel: Yeah, I was kind of already a hermit before, because everything is on the internet these days. The only thing that sucks is that we can’t go out and meet people.
I read that you guys first bonded over Robb Bank$ music in high school. Was there a particular song that stood out to you guys?
F: The whole Calendars mixtape. That was a pivotal moment in that internet, Tumblr music era.
L: I think Robb hit for me because we were the same age as him. So a lot of the stuff he was saying were things I could resonate with.
I have fond memories of bumping ‘Counting’ from Calendars, the Clams Casino production will always hit. That era of internet rap was really interesting, with acts like Robb Bank$, Yung Lean, Lil Ugly Mane, and the whole Raider Klan movement taking over. Is there anything you miss about those times?
L: I think what I miss the most about that time is that it was a moment where rap was resetting. People were coming in with fresh perspectives, it was an anything-goes sort of era. You had Odd Future and ASAP Mob, Kendrick and Drake, it was anybody’s game. Whereas I feel like now, people have moved to do what’s popular, doing certain things that everybody is doing.
That era was a time where I’d be at school desperately trying to make Clams Casino type beats. Do you both remember what your respective music was like at the time?
L: It was interesting. I had just started making beats, and the music was very weird. I was super into sampling, it was like half samples, half my personal touches.
F: I don’t really know how to describe it. It was good though, or at least it was fun. There are some songs that you could probably put out today, and they’d still be good. Or at least I think.
L: I think the music was a little jazzier as well.
I’ve seen you guys talk about your creative process in the sense that a lot of time you accidentally come across song ideas. How do you identify what accidents to run within making music?
L: We just listen to a lot of music at once, whatever we’re fucking with at the time, and then we try and replicate it without being too on the nose. The result is something that comes out naturally.
Louie, I’ve seen you attribute a lot of the results to you not being a very good producer, but I think that’s what makes you a good producer, where you leave space and experimentation in a scene today where a lot of music is quantised and by the numbers. What do you think the beauty is in production being more free-flowing, than form-fitting?
L: I think it’s human nature at some point in time when you’re creating. When you make everything quantised and clean-cut, it’s not natural. I don’t have any friends who speak perfectly every sentence, nobody speaks like Siri [Laughs]. I think people still enjoy the randomness of things. I don’t think you can get any feeling out of something being perfect.
Do the lyrics follow the same sort of stream of consciousness process?
F: For me, I just form an idea, and the words will come after. Early on, I was able to sit with what I was writing, I had notes and stuff. But more recently, it’s sort of like I’m winging it. And playing into that accident thing, when I have a really good idea that comes to me, I never expect it to be something that stays, but it usually does. Like, the first or second idea I pursue will become part of a song, but it’s not intentional.
One of my favourite examples of free-flowing creativity is Kanye’s Wyoming era, where he was just pumping out fast-paced, beautifully imperfect music week after week. Particularly on his album Ye, where he spoke without filters and repositioned his struggles with mental illness as his superpower. If you had to choose, what would Paris Texas’ superpower be?
L: That’s a really good question. I feel like our chemistry honestly, as corny as that sounds. We just really understand each other and know where we’re both coming from. We don’t try to limit each other, and what we can do. It’s never a competition, we don’t both go in trying to have the best part on a song. We just try to make the best thing possible and push each other to do anything we want to do.
Kenny Beats was bumping you guys on his Twitch stream the other day, and I’ve always loved his mantra of “Don’t Overthink Shit.” How do you guys avoid overthinking in a creative process that’s so open?
L: I’m honestly a big overthinker. I can’t even help it. Because as much as our music is accidental, it’s also very well thought about. There’s a lot of trial and error that goes into it. Especially with the newer stuff, Felix and I try to think about what we’re saying. Even in the freestyle moments, we’re trying to outdo bars and be as clever as possible.
I once heard Benny Blanco say the most important part of creating a record is “Setting a good vibe, and being a good therapist.’’ Is that something you guys relate to?
F: The environment and vibe is a big part for sure. With therapy, that might have happened, and I don’t know it yet. But the environment is a huge part, whether it’s bad or good. I think the good is relative because you could be in the garage and make some amazing stuff. You don’t have to be in the best place ever to make good stuff.
What was the environment like creating Boy Anonymous?
L: We were just in Felix’s room. You know that feeling where you’re like 15 years old, hanging out with your cousin, and just fucking around? Just playing games and doing whatever the fuck you want to do? It was a lot of that. It was like one long sleepover.
F: Yeah, there was a lot of media going on. Computers, video games, lights, and music playing all the time. That’s how music is listened to usually. It’s not always focused on, which doesn’t make it bad, but music is usually consumed when people are driving, running, taking a shower etc. There’s usually a multitude of other things going on.
You guys are another example of the fascinating LA scene we’re experiencing right now, with acts like Drakeo The Ruler, Channel Tres, 03 Greedo, and so many more. What is it about LA right now that’s made it such a hotbed for unique talent?
F: I think the scene out here in LA is hard to translate sometimes. Like, everything has their own thing going on with a certain focus, and they never want to imitate.
L: With LA in general, weirdly enough, it’s very competitive. It’s good and bad, we talk about this a lot. People are very quick to clique up and do their own thing. I’ve always been very envious of Atlanta or Detroit, where everybody seems to be having fun and doing shit together. Whereas here, everything is just doing it in their own circles. Through that, there are all these individual, unique sounds, whether they’re good or bad.
You’re both vocal about the effect the internet has had on you. But especially in music today, it seems to be leaning more in the direction of monetisation as opposed to creative freedom, where there’s targeted algorithms and targeted advertising taking up all of our everyday feeds. What do you miss about the old days of the internet?
L: I feel like there was a point in time where there were so many sites, and so many things, to where you weren’t boxed into one. But now, people use 3 platforms: Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter. Now there’s TikTok as well, but it all seems like people are staying in their little circles. Before, you would browse, find some weird MMO, post on a weird forum, people were doing everything. It’s more streamlined now, which in ways is a good thing because you can use these tools to your advantage and figure shit out, opposed to trying to figure out what the next big site is going to be. I don’t know man, I do miss the old days, but I mean, people are making money off Youtube and Instagram now, whereas they weren’t before.
F: I think monetisation means people will create much harder. I think the monetary value of these platforms can be disheartening for a lot of creators, but I think it also pushes people to branch out of what they’re seeing every single day.
There are so many different styles and sounds explored across Boy Anonymous. If you had to pick a few albums that helped lay the groundwork for what is Paris Texas, what would they be?
L: Calendars by Robb Bank$, first and foremost. Wolf by Tyler, The Creator for sure. Anything In Return by Toro Y Moi, that’s a big one. To Pimp A Butterfly as well.
Lastly, what do you guys have planned for the rest of the year?
F: Probably more music if anything, that’s mainly it. Gear up for the next few things to come out. I’m hoping to learn how to tre flip as well.
Oh man, I wish I could join you in that one, but my body proportions tell me no.
F: Do it! If I can do it, you can as well!
Next time we talk, we’ll both be tre flipping!
Follow Paris Texas here for more and stream ‘BOY ANONYMOUS’ below.