“I’ll be driving in the car, and I’ll have a melody. Last night as I was going to bed, I had a melody idea in my head, so I just grabbed my phone and recorded it.” She pauses in the briefest flicker of reflection, then nods. “A lot of voice memos turn into songs.”
Halferty, the face and voice of Des Moines five-piece Parlours, never planned on fronting a band. The idea of singing in front of people appalled her, in fact. But while she was playing guitar in other people’s projects, she was writing. Eventually — as anyone who’s created something can attest — the desire to see her ideas fully realized trumped everything else.
“When I was younger, I’d occasionally write songs for the other bands I was in, but I never felt very confident about my singing voice at all,” she said. “I always hated my voice and didn’t like the idea of being the front person and was much more comfortable in the background. (Then) I took a couple years off from living here to travel and do my own thing, and I just wrote so much during that time that I decided I wanted to try making my own music. I just felt so compelled to make music that it was worth the risk of people hating my voice.
“I don’t think I have a very traditional sounding voice in the sense that I can’t sing very strong or do crazy vibrato. I have a more reserved voice, and I think I just figured out how to use it in a way that compliments it. I never did any choir or voice lessons. I just kind of figured out how to use it over time.”
It’s that realized use that is Parlours’ greatest strength. Halferty’s songwriting is certain to be listed among the band’s strong points, but it’s the 25-year-old’s vocals that have come to set the band apart from the glut of indie college acts around the country. Halferty’s vocals have a deeply personal quality to them. Songs unfold with languid intimacy — half-whispered secrets in the listener’s ear wrapped in the dreamy gauze of Steve Bergeron’s violin or Wayde Stover’s barely-there drums.
Even with Parlours appearing on College Music Journal charts around the country and with 95,000 views on its debut YouTube video, the band remains a work in progress. But the sound grows ever more confident as the evolution continues.
“We’re still putting the band together,” Halferty said with a laugh. “It just started growing really fast, so we (originally) just grabbed friends and started filling the lineup. I think, because we did have to start filling spots really quickly, it didn’t grow as most bands do with writing music together and everything. So we have had a lot of member changes with people not realizing that it was going to grow as quickly as it did and then finding other people to fill those roles who are interested in playing more of a permanent part.”
Now, with what Halferty feels are the right people in place, Parlours is ready for another tour (following swings in 2011 and 2012). And Halferty is always writing.
“We are back in the studio recording,” she said. “Not necessarily a release, but we’re just getting out some songs that we’ve been working on. Our last album, we took it song by song, and I think you can hear that. But with the next release, we want to have a more cohesive sound.” CV