Co-produced by the legendary Teddy Riley, “No Diggity” was a massive hit for Blackstreet in the 90s. More recently, neo-ragtime duo Parlor Social teamed up with Riley to perform a version of the song live in Los Angeles, and, subsequently, the pair have been introduced to a whole new and global fan-base.
With album plans in the works for next year, the duo -- Dessy Di Lauro and Ric’key Pageot -- kindly agreed to this interview to chat collaborations, social media and ultimate career ambitions.
PW: Please introduce yourselves.
Parlor Social: Hello! We are Dessy Di Lauro and Ric’key Pageot of Parlor Social.
PW: How would you describe yourselves and your music in a few words?
PS: If Lauryn Hill, Outkast and Cab Calloway would have a love-child, it would sound like Parlor Social.
PW: When did you realize you wanted to make music a career? Was there an album you bought or concert you attended that inspired you?
PS: We both started music at a very early age. It has always been a part of our upbringing. We didn’t choose music; music chose us. It was inevitable to make a career of it.
PW: Which bands or artists influenced you growing up, and have those influences changed over the years?
Ricky: My influences are Herbie Hancock, D’Angelo, and Stevie Wonder. Nowadays, as I’ve gotten into production, they are Teddy Riley, Dr.Dre, Pharrell, Outkast, and Duke Ellington.
Dessy: My early influences include Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Sarah Vaughn, Lauryn Hill, Cab Calloway, and they haven’t changed much since.
PW: Is there a band or artist you might say you're similar to?
PS: The sound that sounds the closest to ours is Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing. But we added the influence of the 1930s hot jazz, which includes heavy use of swingin’ horns, stride piano, scatting but still making it sound modern, picking up where Harlem Renaissance left off in the late 30s. We aren’t trying to sound vintage; we are a contemporary sounding band with vintage influences.
PW: Who or what most inspires your song-writing?
PS: It can be other people’s stories; what’s going on social-politically in the news; inspiring biographies, etc.
PW: In your opinion, which is the greatest song ever written and why?
PS: It’s hard to narrow it down to one song. We listened and admire music from Ravel, Debussy and Bach all the way to Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and Duke Ellington -- all incredible composers.
PW: You recently played a show at The Sayers Club in LA, performing "No Diggity" with the legendary Teddy Riley. How did that collaboration come about, and what are your upcoming performance plans?
PS: As we were recently recording our new song, "Higher Place", Ric’key Pageot asked one of his mentors, Dr. Benjamin Wright, to write a horn arrangement. With a career spanning thirty years, multi–Grammy award winner, Dr. Wright has written string and horn arrangements for some of the biggest acts in the music history, which includes Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Outkast, Mary J. Blige, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, just to name a few.
Dr. Wright invited Teddy Riley over to the big band recording session in Hollywood for "Higher Place". Riley liked the song so much that he offered to collaborate. This led to a guest appearance on our live show at The Sayers Club. The crowd’s reaction was so overwhelming that we are already discussing with Riley about taking this show to Las Vegas.
PW: If you could share a stage with three other bands or artists (who can be living or dead), who would they be, and where would you play?
PS: Duke Ellington, Mint Condition and Prince at the Madison Square Garden in NYC.
PW: What are your thoughts on social media, and would you agree it's a vital tool for bands and artists today? Do you think you'd have the support you do without it?
PS: Yes, social media is, indeed, vital in this era of DIY. We have the ability to build our own following and reach the fans directly whether there’s a record label involved or not.
PW: What else does the rest of the year have in store for you?
PS: We are going to continue working on our album for a potential release in early 2017. We also have our first show on Oct 14th opening for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in Napa, CA, which we are very excited about.
PW: Finally, then, what's your ultimate ambition as a group, and, with that in mind, what would you like your musical legacy to be?
PS: We look up to our musical heroes as they have inspired us with their incredible legacies. Parlor Social is about creating our own musical lane and being true to it. We are not trying to sound like anyone else. We want our legacy to be about inspiring others to find their own sound and sticking to it. That’s the only way music will keep evolving.