Behind the Music: Interview with Parks N’ Rec

‘I’ve always understood the healing power of music… you can just escape and be.’

Have you ever found yourself just wishing you could hop on a plane and just… go? Imagine purchasing a one-way ticket to Costa Rica with no concrete plans nor aims and you’ll be envisioning a life pretty similar to that of Canadian artist Parks N’ Rec (Marco DiFelice). During his getaway, he managed to lay down his breezy upcoming EP ‘I Wish I Was Here’ – off of which his summery soft bop ‘A Little Cruel’ features.

With the track being added to ‘The Widening Horizons Playlist’, LTD’s Ella McLaren caught up with Marco to delve deeper into what it was like to produce music while away from home, and discover what he’s learned from his time working across the music industry. 

Introduce yourself to our readers:
I am Marco DiFelice, singer and lover of all things music.

What was the first thing that drew you to music?
The big-ass wooden record player, the size of a couch, in our living room, was the focus of our household. It became like the church altar to me. Also, old Italian folk songs that my mother, aunt, and uncles would all sing at family gatherings and weddings had a big impression on me. The communal spirit of playing together really made me happy. I understood the healing power of those musical moments together…. you could just escape and be.

How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t listened to your music before?
That’s hard.  hmmm….Indie Carib? Emo Jimmy Buffett? Wandering and floaty? 

What’s the story behind the name Parks N’ Rec?
During the summer Pandemic of 2020, I spent all my time in the public parks playing games and enjoying the community spirit of Toronto. In 2021, the plan is to play in those exact parks and all parks while on tour. 

You took off to Central America last year, how has this trip impacted your music?
It has given me some levity in life and allowed my music to breathe. It also reminded me that we don’t need much of anything. 

Why did you choose to go to Costa Rica?
I chose Central America and South America based on wanting to be near permaculture farms in those countries.  I am interested in the concept of incorporating space for music creation in these fertile places. The plan was to explore more than just Costa Rica and Colombia. But, because of the pandemic, I felt it was my responsibility to move “slowly”, so I just meandered in the remote areas of those two countries.

‘Travelling to Central America has reminded me that we don’t need much of anything’

‘A Little Cruel’ explores the pain involved in finding closure after a relationship. How does music help you through tough experiences like these?
It helps to crystallize my thoughts into song, and honour what happened by stamping a place and time. The hope is that it helps with closure. 

Can you tell us about the recording process for ‘A Little Cruel’?
This was the first song I wrote on the getaway. I found the only studio in Puerto Viejo de la Talamanca, in Costa Rica. It was a studio put together by DJ Chris, who usually creates reggaeton music. That was an interesting backdrop for me because it “lightened” the mood.  I recorded a soft guitar and vocal, initially thinking the song would remain in a pared down production. When I sent the files up to Toronto to two other players/producers (Brent Barkman and Tal Vaisman), they worked with me on creating a slightly different vibe. We talked about some 80’s synths and caribbean elements and voila….’A Little Cruel’ was born. 

What was the best part of recording ‘A Little Cruel’ in that way?
I love how the pure message of melody and lyric was the first part of that recording, and then we worked backwards to create the instruments. 

You’ve worked across the music industry, from being in the band Supergarage to working in music supervision for hit shows like Orphan Black. What are the key learnings you’ve gained from your broad professional experiences?
Being exposed to this ‘broad experience’ gave me a newfound respect for the power of music. I truly understand how visceral music is for so many people when it connects to their personal lives. As a result, this discovered respect forced me to dig deeper into my own craft and get at the heart of what I was trying to convey in my creations. It also allowed me to work with an eclectic cast of co-producers and musicians that I would have not have met if I didn’t work in film and tv. 

You’re about to release a new EP, ‘Wish I Was Here’, can you tell us more about that?
It’s a collage of my seven months being away from my homeland during a pandemic. So these songs vary, but there is a yearning in them all.  

And finally, what can we expect from you in the future?
More traveling and recording this way. I have enjoyed the process a lot.

So whether you’re looking for a sign to make a break for the tropics or just some sonic escapism, let Parks N’ Rec soundtrack your way.

Interview by Ella McLaren

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