London-based singer-songwriter Arlo Parks boasts an uncanny ability to zero in on a feeling via her relatable lyrics and pillow-soft vocals. New song "Eugene" is her latest heartbreaker, a delicate moment about those times when the line between friendships and romantic relationships blur and, inevitably, feelings get hurt.
The song comes with a video directed by British rapper Loyle Carner and his brother Ryan, their debut project as The Coyle-Larner Brothers. In the video Arlo's bed is shown as a metaphor for the closeness she feels towards a pal. When things are good is is the backdrop for photoshoots, late night chats, and movie screenings. However, the tone of the song shifts when Eugene enters. The Coyle-Larner Brothers demonstrate this fraying of the relationship via a literal crack in the bed that leaves the figurative distance a physical gap.
Parks, Loyle Carner, and Ryan Coyle-Larner recently spoke to The FADER about working together and began by explaining what they wanted to achieve with the "Eugene" video.
What does "Eugene" mean to you?
Arlo Parks: It's supoosed to be quite ambiguous. The general gist is about having complicated feelings towards someone you've known for a long time. That was something I had seen around me and experienced myself. It's not necessarily in a romantic sense, either. It's just a feeling that you're being left out or not getting the right kind of love from the people you care about. That amviguity is captured really well in the video. It is about two people who are close.
And what attracted you to this song as directors?
Ryan Coyle-Larner: I think the story of the song is something we can all relate to. We all know a friend or someone you fancy and not feeling like you're getting the love or attention back that you're giving out. We wanted to build on that narrative in the video.
Loyle Carner: "Eugene" is true to the music that we grew up on as kids. From Bob Dylan to Leonard Cohen or Earl Sweatshirt, it's about true stories you can relate to.
How did you go about building on the narrative as directors?
Loyle Carner: Because It is so open to interpretation as a song it meant that we were able to do something that wasn't a strict story. We had license to muck around a bit and leave it to the viewer. That's much nicer than spoon-feeding them their feelings.
Tell me about the story of the video.
Loyle Carner: We see two girls and it's not clear if they're friends or something more. It is set across the course of a summer and they spend all this time together. Then we get introduced to this guy, Eugene, who comes in and seems to be doing all the things that Arlo and her friend have been doing together. It's kind of heartbreaking to watch.
Was that why you chose it as your first directorial project?
Loyle Carner: Our friendship with Arlo was really important and also her brilliant art.
Were there any movies you watched as a reference for the video?
Arlo Parks: It feels very Wes Anderson to me.
Loyle Carner: Yeah, The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely in there and Whiplash, too.
Arlo, how was the shoot for you?
Arlo Parks: It was great. It was my first time sort of acting in a video so I was a little nervous but everyone was great and I made friends with the other actors. We're actually having dinner together tonight.
Loyle Carner: Really? With Amelia? That's sick.
How did you guys first connect?
Loyle Carner: I had heard Arlo's music when my manager told me I had featured in a poem she wrote last year. There was a line in it about how her first concert was one of mine. So I messaged her to tell her I was a fan. Then I invited her on tour but she couldn't make it because she was doing her A-levels. Eventually we did tour together, though, and Ryan was doing the merch for us so we all got to hang out around that time.
Arlo, what are your plans for 2020?
Arlo Parks: I'm working on my album so it's mainly about writing. It's been a process of working out what I want to talk about and getting that down.
Loyle, what is your advice to someone working on their debut album?
Loyle Carner: Don't worry about what other people will think about it because it will ruin it. I had no idea when I was making mine [2017's Yesterday's Gone]. By the time I'd started worrying about it I'd written it all. That is a beautiful part of it. Stay away from social media, too. It just shows you people who are cracking on with things when you're not. You'll never get to do it again so just enjoy it.
"Eugene" follows Arlo Parks' most recent EP Sophie, which dropped late last year. She tours the U.K. and Europe from the end of February.