Paris Texas, the Slacker Rap Duo Behind One of 2021’s Defining Albums

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Paris Texas
Paris TexasPhotography by Saru Hagher

Responsible for the one of the strongest, most original releases of 2021, Paris Texas are ripping up the rulebook and having fun doing it

“I live life in a comedy,” raps Louis Pastel in FORCE OF HABIT, the recent single by South Central artists Paris Texas that’s without doubt one of the strongest, most original releases of 2021. Its swaggering, stomping chorus sees the other half of the duo, Felix, chanting the refrain “walking ‘round like I’m the shit” over distorted guitars that instantly bring to mind American slacker bands like Dinosaur Jr and Fugazi. The production feels instinctive, anarchic, without regard for the rulebook, and there’s a sense of two people having fun.

Introduced through a mutual friend, producer Louis Pastel and rapper Felix met in community college in South Central, Los Angeles, and have – officially – been Paris Texas for three years. In February this year, they dropped their debut single HEAVY METAL, an electric rap track with a spiky punk bassline, rock guitars and deafening crash cymbals, a sound reminiscent of Pharrell’s N.E.R.D., just spookier, with a video that sees the pair dragged around the streets of LA bleeding, occasionally shifting into full-face white masks. The track introduced them to the world, albeit without revealing much about who they are. 

A month later they dropped SITUATIONS, a krauty, King Krule-esque rap tune with a video using a 32-bit video game aesthetic to put them into virtual character. Next came FORCE OF HABIT, and the duo prowling around a California car park, hoods up and plaid jackets on, looking like they’ve been cast by Harmony Korine. The same day they dropped their first full-ish length (eight-track) project BOY ANONYMOUS, a release that marks them out as new artists with a comprehensive vision.

Paris Texas give me the same feeling that Odd Future did when I first heard them about a decade ago. Stylistically I don’t think there are too many similarities, but there’s an attitude, a refusal to follow convention, a youthful punk spirit that you can feel all over the music. While I might be scrambling about for references, they don’t sound like anything around right now. I caught up with Louis and Felix, sat at opposite ends of their LA apartment on different Zooms, to find out more.

Thomas Gorton: That guitar part in FORCE OF HABIT really reminds me of slacker bands and the Seattle grunge scene. Is any of the music from that era an influence on you?

Louis Pastel: You know what’s really weird? I’m very unaware of the Seattle grunge scene, but I know that people hear that in our music. But I was a really big fan of The Fall Of Troy, who were from Seattle. It’s funny – I don’t know how to make shit. I didn’t have any good plugins, a pedal. It just came out sounding like that, I don’t really listen to bands like that.

TG: There’s a lot of talk about you being mysterious, but it doesn’t seem like that to me. You’re very present in your videos, however I’m interested in the album name BOY ANONYMOUS –  what does that mean to you?

LP: It was just about not really knowing who we are, or what we were musically. Regarding the mysterious thing – we did try that for a bit but fucked up and showed our faces. I don’t mind not being mysterious anymore, it’s kinda cool either way.

TG: You have live shows booked. What can people expect from a Paris Texas show?

LP: Expect to get very hyphy.

Felix: Get super geeked, it’s geek time. A lot of jumping. I like jumping.

LP: We really like performing. We performed before we released music. It’s been interesting being in quarantine ‘cause we don’t get to see people, a lot of it is just over the internet so it’s hard to tell who’s fucking with it or not. I know that in LA and New York the shows sold out, so that made me excited to know people are really fucking with us.

“I never wanted to do something glossy and well packaged, we wanted something interesting for people to look at.” – Louis Pastel

TG: BOY ANONYMOUS is eight tracks long, do you have plans for a full-length? What’s next?

F: Trying to do something fun, something nice and sweet post this project. Listen to this project, you can tell it’s a lot of good ideas, but maybe the cohesion doesn’t speak to it being an album.

TG: Your videos have a specific language and communicate your videos

LP: We do the treatments and everything, the only one we didn’t do was SITUATIONS. We’re very big on visuals, it’s a very important part of the process. It’s kind of corny to say but you have to sell yourself. I never wanted to do something glossy and well packaged, we wanted something interesting for people to look at.

TG: Do you have a background in filmmaking?

LP: I never get behind the camera, I come up with concepts. I’m a very big cinephile. Once we’ve done three (Paris Texas) projects I might switch to directing.

TG: I read that you’ve never seen the Wim Wenders film Paris, Texas.

LP: That’s a lie, I’ve seen it. The movie’s slow, but I do like the plot a lot, about a guy who lost the love of his life – even though she looks super young. He’s like 80 and she looks like she’s in her mid-20s which raises a lot of fucking questions.

TG: Who are your biggest inspirations when it comes to films and directors?

LP: Brick, by Rian Johnson, a lot of Richard Linklater films, Eternal Sunshine is one of our favourites. Edgar Wright is always crazy, really slept on as an artist – he always knows how to take risks with basic pop culture concepts.

TG: Lyrically who have you been influenced by growing up?

F: Kendrick, Xanman, I was listening to a lot of Lucki.

TG: You’ve talked about concepts during this conversation - what’s the concept behind Paris Texas?

F: Conceptually it’s still being worked out, we’re still blueprinting it right now.

LP: We’re trying to be the most artistic people who don’t take themselves seriously.

TG: You produced everything on BOY ANONYMOUS, do you ever want to bring other producers in?

LP: We kinda wanna wait. We wanna prove ourselves before getting any more hands in it. If it’s working then why would we get people in? Let’s be Paris Texas for a while.

TG: Would you have a dream collaboration?

LP: Jamie Foxx.

F: BlueBucksClan.