Arlo Parks on Collaborating With Phoebe Bridgers and How Writing Her New Album Was Like Speaking to a ‘Best Friend or Therapist’

Arlo Parks' sophomore album is, in some ways, accidental. “I started listening to everything I'd collected, and I was like, ‘Whoa! I pretty much got the raw material for an album here,'” she tells Variety . “I tricked myself somehow.” This helped the 22-year-old London native avoid some of the pressure that often accompanies an artist's second LP — especially if they've had an ascent like Parks'. After building a loyal fan base in the U.K., she released her debut album, “Collapsed in Sunbeams,” in January 2021. It went on to win the prestigious Mercury Prize and earn Parks best new artist and alternative album nominations at the 2022 Grammys. But all of that success didn't come without a cost: After opening for Harry Styles, Clairo and Billie Eilish in the first half of 2022, Parks canceled part of her U.S. tour later in the year, saying her mental health had “deteriorated to a debilitating place.” More from Variety Taylor Swift Wore Phoebe Bridgers' Catbird Necklace Onstage During Eras Tour Taylor Swift Wraps Up Nashville Show Past 1:30 a.m., in Driving Rain, After Long Lightning Delay: ‘We All Look Like River Otters' Taylor Swift Announces ‘Speak Now (Taylor's Version)' Is Coming in July During Concert in Nashville In many ways, that honesty has made her even more of a beacon of relatability for Gen Z, and her new album, “My Soft Machine” — which was released May 26 — is her most personal project yet. Below, Parks discusses mid-20s anxiety, working with Phoebe Bridgers and what makes a good love song. How does it feel to finally have “My Soft Machine” out in the world? When you're really going inwards into the deepest recesses of yourself and showing people what you come out with, it's like the conversation you would have with a best friend or a therapist, but you're having it with the world. It's scary, but when I think some of my favorite artists — like Elliott Smith or Phoebe Bridgers or Jeff Buckley or anyone who has that openhearted approach to music — then that's […]

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