Berlin-based artists Nicolas Janco, better known by his stage name Parra For Cuva, has carved out a unique niche in the electronic music scene: rhythmic, melodic tracks with a subtle classical undertone. After a bit of a break, Janco returned with a new single – a preview of an upcoming EP Belle de Nuit. The first track, by the same name, is an intimate instrumental song improvised on a piano after sharing wine with his girlfriend. The intimacy of the moment comes through quite clearly in this ambient song that slowly flowers as you listen.
The new EP is an exploration of Parra For Cuva’s “relentless fascination for sound and harmony”. The entirety of these songs was recorded on a piano, which Janco has been playing since the age of twelve. The passion for electronic music, however, came a bit later. Nicolas’ first record was Bloodhound Gang’s single “The Bad Touch” which you might recall for the music video. A group of guys dressed in monkey suits encouraging you to get in touch with your inner animal, it was a special treat. But I digress.
Minimalist house (Kollektiv Turmstrasse, Minilogue) felt closer to home for Janco so naturally, Bonobo’s record Days to Come was a major inspiration. “It was so interesting in its arrangement and out-of-the-box ideas. Most importantly, you can hear multiple instruments/ sounds if you listen closely” he told Electronic Groove, “I wanted to copy that immediately and it took me over 10 years to make it work in my own music.”
But that all was a long time ago. In light of this upcoming EP, we wanted to catch up with Parra For Cuva to chat about his new work, process, and experiences.
Kateryna Topol: Hello Nicolas, where are you right now, how’s the weather?
Parra For Cuva: Hey, I am very good, thank you. The weather here in Liguria (Italia) is sunny, but still a bit cold 🙂
KT: Sunny is good, I’ll take sunny. Ok, let’s dive in! “Belle de Nuit” has been recorded in your home studio on an old Seiler piano, which seems to be very representative of the upcoming EP – was this song the one that started it all?
PFC: “Belle de Nuit” was written in the winter of 2021. My girlfriend Paula and me had a super nice evening in our apartment in Schöneberg (Berlin). While we were cooking and had some wine I started to jam on the piano, as my studio is almost connected to the kitchen. Somehow Paula hit the recording button on her phone while I was improvising in my tipsy mood. The song was written in only one jam and because of the audio recording, I could reconstruct it the next morning. In the end, it was not the main reason why I recorded this Piano EP but this piece seemed very fresh and made the EP more alive.
KT: Love that! Keys have always played a large role in your production but the new EP takes their importance to a whole new level, nearly dipping into classical — is this, let’s call it a concept EP? or a new direction?
PFC: Yes, you can definitely say it’s a concept EP. I always wanted to write a full Piano project instead of always releasing electronic music. In general, this will be probably the only Piano work I will put out as my heart is beating more for electronic music production, but you never know…
KT: I’ve read you are also working on a new album, how is that coming along?
PFC: I am sitting in a nice Airbnb right now looking at the sea. We packed up my studio and drove the last few days down to Liguria in Italy to finish the next Album. I already did this last year and I had some friends and musicians over to write with me. So the album will have a lot of feature artists and will definitely sound different from the rest of my work so far.
KT: That sounds like a really cool way to write music. Will you please tell us about your home studio setup, what’s it like?
PFC: My home studio is based in Berlin Schöneberg. It’s a smaller room in my apartment. When you come in you see that the studio is all about feeling at home. It’s a place I spend most of my day in so it was very important to me to have it cozy. I collect a lot of instruments and especially keys (pianos / Synthesizers and E Pianos). In general, you can find everything there for being creative. I have a collection of weirder instruments that I bought randomly like unusual guitars or percussions.
KT. What a collection! And when you are not at home…
PFC: I just got a new laptop and it’s a lot of joy to work while on vacation. We often take the camper van for holiday and I love to write on the road on campgrounds and in nature. Inspiration on the other hand never strikes me while on a plane or airport.
KT: Let’s briefly talk about your Circle set in Mexico, what was it like to play with no audience (or I suppose very minimal audience)?
PFC: There was almost nobody while playing the set. It felt very strange, to be honest, to play in such a beautiful spot in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Mexico. I was very nervous that something would go wrong while playing so I was mainly super focused on my equipment and playing rather than the fact of the lack of audience. After I finished I had time to realize how beautiful nature was.
KT: Understandable for sure. What was that trip to Mexico like for you, did you get to spend time and explore?
PFC: Not really. It was more like in and out. As it often is the DJ business. You fly to so many amazing spots but have hardly the time to discover much, unfortunately…
KT: As work trips go I suppose. You’ve talked in the past about the challenges the electronic music industry presents and how there should be more opportunities for new artists to “get a foot in the door” — are there any new artists you think our readers should pay attention to?
KT: Nice. Any other big plans or hopes for 2023?
PFC: I hope I can finish my Album and release it this year 🙂
KT: Can’t wait to hear it! Thank you for your time
PFC: Thank you!
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Belle de Nuit EP will be out on March 17th, 2023.