One Discipline: Arlo Parks in Conversation with Thompson

Culture — 22.04.20

Editor: Rhianedd Dancey
Photography: Thompson
Talent: Arlo Parks

The current social climate has had a tremendous effect on all creatives across the world. In this edition of One Discipline, Teeth would like to celebrate the artists still trying to excite our senses and seek collaboration during this difficult period of history. Thompson, a London based photographer found his work falling apart as the outbreak hit the UK. Struggling with the new limitations of every day he was adamant to find a solution to continue creating his facetime series was born – a collection of virtual portraits conducted over facetime.

Likewise, Arlo Parks the London-based singer and poet, found her performances suspended due to the implementation of social distancing in the UK. She decided to move performances online. In doing so she finds herself creating more than ever from the confinements of her home. Here Arlo and Thompson discuss collaboration, motivation, self-doubt, and whether art really can change the world.

Arlo: Do you think the Coronavirus will change how people approach making art and collaborating long term?

Thompson: From what I’ve felt amongst my creative friends, there’s a real attitude of community. Whilst we may be geographically separate, a lot of people I know are reaching out to as many people as possible. I’ve seen a lot of creatives support each other online; people posting the work of their peers to give them a boost. I would love to think that the lasting impact of this time is that the community element will remain.


Thompson: Has self-isolation caused you to create more, or are you taking it as a chance to slow down?

Arlo: I’ve been creating more than ever – being stuck inside has forced me to really look myself in the eyes and write about the things that have shaped me.


Arlo: What motivates you to create art?

Thompson: I love the nature of photography, capturing fleeting moments. I think ultimately that’s what drives me. There’s no better feeling than when the gears click into place creating the feeling of  ‘the shot’.


Thompson: You’ve stated in interviews before that you’d hate for your music to be easily categorised. Is it a conscious decision for you to create new sounds? Or is that a by-product of your writing processes? 

Arlo: It’s a by-product of my writing and listening process. I’ll be listening to Kid A one minute and Voodoo the next – the way my tastes naturally collide determines the music I make.


Arlo: Do you experience self-doubt surrounding your art? How do you overcome that?

Thompson: Definitely, I’m a worrier at heart and being in such a subjective profession does not help that! At the start of my career, I doubted myself a lot more than I do now. I used to do a lot of portfolio reviews and would take feedback really personally – so much so that it completely changed how I made images. I have a personal standard I like to achieve in my process, if anyone else likes the outcome it’s a bonus.  It’s improved my work drastically.


Thompson: There’s a lot of meaning conveyed through your music videos. Are these a crucial part of fulfilling the vision of the song?

Arlo: They are so crucial – I’m very inspired by film especially David Lynch and Martin Scorsese – using symbolism and creating a specific visual palette to almost elevate what a song is about is very important to me.


Arlo: When people look at one of your photographs how do you want them to feel or react?

Thompson: I want the audience to gain an insight into the relationship that I had with my subjects. My photos are a record of social interactions. If a person can look at one of my images and understand the relationship.


Thompson: How, or for what, do you want to be remembered?

Arlo: I want to be remembered for making honest art that made people that were suffering feel less alone. I also want my shows to be remembered as safe spaces where everyone felt comfortable to exist exactly as they are.


Arlo: Do you think art can change the world?

Thompson: Without a doubt. Art has definitely shaped my opinion and formed my beliefs. Different mediums have different benefits. A photograph can stir emotions that a song never could and likewise, a  song can evoke feelings that a photograph can not.