Parallels' Holly Dodson On Madonna Comparisons and Halloween Costumes

Alex Catarinella

Fronted by the hypnotic -- and super cute -- Holly Dodson, Parallels' '80s-evoking, dark electro-pop is the perfect music to take us from this summer's beach-wave bonanza into fall and winter's chilly grey days. Turn up the volume on their debut album, Visionaries, and you'll experience an experience. For Dodson, the frequent comparisons to Kylie Minogue, Kate Bush, and yes, even Madonna-circa-True Blue make sense. Her pipes have a sweet but haunting fragility to them, and when juxtaposed with synth-heavy, gothic pop gems -- thanks in large part to bandmate/former Crystal Castles drummer, Cameron Findlay -- the results are a kaleidoscopic, aural roller coaster that you'll probably want to ride over and over again. See the euphoric music video for their first single "Ultralight" for further proof, or check them out live this week at CMJ. They're playing the Highrise/Popjustice showcase tonight at the Bell House.


Tell us about how Parallels got started.
Cameron played with Crystal Castles for a little bit as the drummer. While he was on tour, he had all of these demos and he emailed me some. There was a lot of back and forth writing lyrics for the first few songs because he was away. And then we wrote "Ultralight" over email. We were just playing around at first. Parallels was his solo project -- there weren't any vocals on it. But he sort of wanted to evolve it and get a vocalist in.

So, were you a solo artist pre-Parallels? 
I have been writing stuff since I was like 16. And all of our friends sit and jam and stuff. So it was just natural that he sent me something he made. I would always send him my demos and stuff for feedback too. I have a bunch of songs before Parallels. Maybe they'll become Parallel songs some day. We'll see. 

For those who aren't familiar with you guys just yet, how would you describe your sound? 
I've said this before, but to give some pop culture references -- New Order and Madonna in the year 2010. It's a pop album and it has a lot of hooks and melodies and mixes in electronic aspects in it as well. 

You've been compared to a lot of bold names --  Kate Bush, Madonna,  Kylie Minogue... How does this make you feel? 
It's very flattering. They are all my inspirations too so it's a huge, huge compliment to me. Yeah, I'm fine with it. I mean, they did well. (laughs) 

Are there any flamboyant performance elements going on a la Madonna? Will we see you doing your thing alongside your very own back-up dancers? 
No, I wish! We lost our keyboardist so before I was more the front-woman, and now I picked up more keyboard. So it's more of a band feel now. We're hoping one day to expand and whatever so maybe I can be the front-woman again. But it's more of a live band thing as opposed to modern bands and all that fun stuff. Which would have been awesome. 

How did the rainbow-rave of a music video, "Ultralight", come about? 
We didn't want to do a storyline -- we wanted something visual. We were working with our good friend in Toronto who's very involved in the art scene. And he had a vision for "Ultralight" and wanted to try out different technical things. We sort of shot that video and it was running through a projector so it was projecting back onto us. He did all of this cool stuff. It was his vision, but we had in mind something similar. We love all that stuff.

Well, your music could definitely be described as dreamy-pop.
We try to create that sort of mood with our playing and it would be awesome to have that visual aspect as well. It all depends on the club and everything. We can't bring a lighting rig and all of that stuff just yet. One day we'll do that for sure. 

Do you believe there's a formula for making the perfect pop song? 
Well, good hooks, catchy melodies, and I don't know -- memorable songs that get stuck in your head and are annoying at first but then you cave because they're so catchy. David Bowie has a perfect song base on love -- "China Girl", that whole era is so awesome. Obviously Madonna on every level -- production, something you can dance to. Kate Bush too -- "Running Up That Hill" is her most mainstream pop song. 

Would you ever consider covering a little Kate Bush? 
I want to! We covered "Pet Cemetery" from The Ramones so we're trying not to ruin that one right now. 

Best concert experience ever? 
I think I'm really lucky because I've seen almost all of my favorite acts of all time. I think the best I ever went to was David Bowie when he toured last time. Arcade Fire was really awesome as well from a few years ago -- so loud and chaotic but very simple at the same time. 

You've toured with a slew of your fellow pop acts of today. Any favorites out of the bunch? 
There's so many people. I love La Roux. Lady Gaga I think has set the bar high for everybody. Those are my two favorite pop acts right now. I just love pop music -- I can listen to mainstream stuff and not cringe as much as other people do. 

And, clearly the most important question: Have you chosen a Halloween costume yet? Well, we're playing in Miami at the Raleigh Hotel for this really cool party that's Gatsby-themed. It's gothic Gatsby!

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