GENRE: R&B, soul
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Chocolate”
FOR FANS OF: Ari Lennox, Summer Walker, Tori Kelly, Blossom
R&B singer, songwriter and producer Parisalexa has come a long way since making her big splash with a near-perfect performance of “Cashitis” as a finalist in Sound Off! 2016, an annual music competition at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (formerly known as the Experience Music Project—watch below). The now 22-year-old artist created her catchy, soulful original using her voice and a loop machine, with lyrics about the societal toxicity of prioritizing money and material items over all else. The well-executed sonic progression on display sounds like a woke, radio-ready hit, but “Cashitis” only scratches the surface of what the singer-songwriter is capable of.
“A lot of the times I was just shooting in the dark as a young, creative person, just trying to get out what was on my heart, and [‘Cashitis’] really resonated with people,” Parisalexa says. “I feel like that set me in a direction to keep writing about real, real stuff.”
Parisalexa is a singer’s singer, constantly practicing her craft live and often producing herself. Her authentic vibe and vocal prowess have landed her placements on new projects from the critically acclaimed funk duo Tuxedo (Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One) and R&B artist Xavier Omär (including opening a 10-date tour stint), as well as making an impact on NBC’s Songland. She signed a publishing deal with Kobalt Music Group, spent a summer writing music for other artists, and recently joined Ultra Music and Payday Records.
In May, a couple of months after the pandemic hit, Parisalexa dropped her debut LP, 2 Real, the follow-up to Bloom and Flexa, her two EPs from 2018. From the Doja Cat-reminiscent “2 Optimistic,” to the Black girl magic anthem “Chocolate” (which beautifully spotlights Black-owned Seattle businesses in its music video), to the sultry staccato rhythms of “4 Playin,” 2 Real is a solid effort that shows Parisalexa’s range—but the singer-songwriter says she’s eager to release music that’s more socially relevant during these apocalyptic times.
Nature-inspired visuals, like one for the plant-themed 2018 single “Water Me,” portray the artist as an exceedingly introspective, down-to-earth Pacific Northwest girl at heart. As a Black woman brought up in the region, Parisalexa says she knows what it’s like to feel invisible and be made to conjure her own self-confidence from within her own world. Essential 2 Real track “Chocolate” gives listeners a taste of that self-affirming inner monologue, calling out anyone trying to bite Black women’s inimitable aesthetic (“You can’t bottle it, fraudulent”) and repeatedly singing “I got the blueprint from the motherland” in its joyful chorus.
While Parisalexa has been a Seattleite ever since moving to the Emerald City from New Jersey at the age of 7, this September marked her move to Portland, where she now joins a house of like-minded women of color creatives that includes singer and former tourmate Blossom.
“Blossom is one of the people that I met in Portland... and I met a lot of the girls who help her with her visuals or creative stuff. And a lot of them all live in this one house that I got to stay at. So ever since then, I’ve just visited it, like multiple times.” Parisalexa says the relocation to Portland now feels like a natural way to branch out and create her next narrative, also noting the friendly, liberated vibe of her new creative community.
“It just brings me such a sense of peace to be around similar-minded women,” she says.
When she’s visited Portland recently—whether for an appearance at Girl Fest in 2018, or a joint tour with Ivy Sole and Blossom last year—it’s obvious Parisalexa is cultivating a fan base here, and for damn good reason.
While the pandemic, second wave of the Black Lives Matter movement, and ultra-devastating fire season would emotionally affect anyone with a pulse, Parisalexa says the forced pause of this period has brought about some songwriting opportunities (including one particularly exciting opp with a female artist that she can’t yet name) that she probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. She’s also done some stellar live stream performances, such as one in June at Seattle’s Nectar Lounge that benefitted Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County. Her next one, Parisalexa says, will more than likely be recorded in Portland, perhaps from her new resting pad.
Once the pandemic has subsided, Parisalexa says she can’t wait to perform around town, record some new visuals (a Riley Brown treatment is a rite of passage for Portland artists), and collaborate with a slew of musicians based in the Rose City, such as hip-hop acts Wynne and KayelaJ. She’s in the process of writing and recording new music, and says she has a song with Donte Thomas (of Portland hip-hop collective Produce Organic Records) that fans should look out for.
“After the pandemic hit, it was draining for a bit, but the best way for me to make it through this time is just to stay creative,” Parisalexa says.
At the time of our phone interview, I’d sealed myself inside my house to avoid hazardous air quality brought on by a truly ghastly fire season, and Parisalexa was doing the same in Seattle as she mentally prepared to make the move three hours south. Once the smoke clears, there’s no doubt Parisalexa will be contributing her own sweetly sung heat to Portland’s R&B scene.
MOST RECENT RELEASE: 2 Real out now