Parie Wood's sonic homework
Local high-school student’s internship leads to debut album
Parie Wood was only 10 when she hit upon her calling one long-ago Sunday while flipping through the newspaper.
There, an ad for an inexpensive electric guitar sparked her imagination.
“Playing music had never really crossed my mind before,” Wood says now.
In fact, although her father played in a thrash-metal band and Wood wrote poetry, she says that until that moment she hadn’t considered herself musically inclined at all.
That picture of a cheap guitar, however, changed everything.
“It cost $99, and I had $100 in my bank account, so I decided to empty it out,” she says. “I became instantly obsessed.”
In the years since, Wood, now 17, has honed that obsession into art. By age 12, she was writing her own songs and, at 15, earned the 2011 Judge’s Choice SN&R Jammies award. This week, Wood releases her debut EP, Manifest, a five-song collection that mines influences that run the gamut, from folk to punk, blues to rock and pop to country.
The latter sound, she admits, comes as something of a surprise—at least to her.
“I thought I hated country,” she says. “Apparently, I don’t.”
Well, classic country anyway—lately it’s been a lot of Hoyt Axton, playing in the background as Wood packages albums for shipment at her internship for the local record label Dig Music.
While the job includes plenty of administrative duties, Wood’s internship doesn’t just entail the typical entry-level grunt work—it’s become the epicenter of her artistic and professional development.
As a student at The Met high school, part of Wood’s curriculum requires an intensive internship in a chosen field. When it came time to pick hers, Wood turned to Marty DeAnda, whom she’d met after he came to check out one of her shows.
DeAnda in turn, given a tape of Wood’s songs by a mutual friend, says he was immediately struck by the singer’s talent as well as her maturity. So, when Wood called looking for an internship, he didn’t hesitate.
“I just remember thinking she’s so much bigger than her age,” DeAnda says. “I thought, we can give her so many advantages and opportunities that other people in this town don’t have at that age.”
The internship, which resumes this fall when the teen returns to the Met as a senior, included a weeklong stint in the studio to record Manifest.
The goal, DeAnda says, was one steeped in pragmatism.
“I said, ’Let’s not get crazy, because you’re still developing your sound,’” he says. “It wasn’t so much about selling [an album] and making her famous; I wanted Parie to go through the steps of a recording session and learning about that.”
For Wood, the experience realized years of dreaming.
“I always had an idea of the songs, because I’d wanted to make it so long,” she says. “It was fun to be able to explore and make it sound the way I always wanted it to.”
And so Wood went into the studio with a handful of musicians, including Walking Spanish’s Alex Nelson.
The resulting tracks, sung in Wood’s husky, world-weary voice, are at once introspective and universal, autobiographical and political.
Soft-spoken and reserved, Wood says she knows that such songs open her up to public inspection.
“All my songs are very personal, but mostly I don’t want anyone to analyze them,” she says. “They’re true stories, [but] I think I’m vague enough so that people can interpret the songs as they will and still decide who they think I am—I just want to write songs that people can relate to.”
When Wood talks about Manifest, it’s easy to hear the old soul DeAnda recognized in those rough demos.
“It’s a benchmark for me, as a songwriter, as a musician, as a person,” she says of the record.
“Pretty soon, I’ll look back and I’ll say, ’Oh, that’s where I was—and now I’m somewhere else.’”