By Adesuwa Okoyomon
Steph Hodgins (vocals/guitar), Charles Wesley (vocals/drums), and Lee Newman (vocals/synth) are the voices behind the queer soul rock trio Parlour Panther. This Vancouver three piece has been performing together since 2014 and just released its first album, Hot Magic. Parlour Panther is not trying to fit into mainstream music, but is instead trying to create a genre that is unique to them, and Hot Magic is proof that they are succeeding at this goal.
Throughout Hot Magic, the trio’s vocals are mesmerizing and alive with feeling. Hodgins, who recorded, produced, and mixed the entire album, remarks, “A lot of people tell us that our songs are like sex songs, and I really like that. If you want to get busy to our album, that’s cool with me.”
“[Do it,] and feel good about it,” Newman adds.
Parlour Panther wants people who listen to their music to know that “it’s alright to feel whatever you feel and be in tune with your emotions,” says Wesley.
Although Hot Magic was in the works for two years, many of the songs on the album were written within a month. The band had a short timeframe to use the studio and recording equipment at the Nimbus School of Recording Arts, which Hodgins was attending at the time.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” says Wesley. “Now we’re more confident in our abilities to write songs and play music.”
For Newman, the process of writing and recording was “super cathartic and empowering.” The result of the trio’s work is an album that at its core is “a declaration of love…of being true to yourself,” an album that inspires people to tell their stories and their truths, and to create their own narratives. Newman names “SEXXXXX” as the first song people should listen to off their album.
“It has, I think, our boldest lyrical content,” says Newman. “Being explicit about queer sex and love is just really important because a lot of queer people are [not] seen and heard as much. To actually sing [about] it is really powerful.”
The trio also released a music video for “Cherry Blossoms,” the third song off the album, and have been toying with the idea of another music video featuring Newman and Hodgins’ cat, Waldo, who was the inspiration for the band’s name. But before Waldo, a.k.a. the original Parlour Panther, makes his acting debut, the band will be performing at several festivals this summer including the Hootstock Festival, the ArtsWells Festival, and the Rogue Arts Festival.
Parlour Panther perform at Khatsahlano Street Party on July 7.Khatsahlano Festival