Paris Texas

The first time I heard about Paris Texas, I was watching a music video of Louie torturing Felix in a basement with an electric guitar. Their music video “Heavy Metal” opened with Louie’s bleeding head being dragged behind a car, driven by two masked men as he semi-consciously rapped over a simple guitar riff.

“I just wanted my father’s applause
I just wanted my mothers applause
I just wanted these crackers applause
So I stand on stage with the bars,”

Felix sat alone in a sunlit room, playing chess, waiting for bloodied Louie to arrive. I wasn’t sure what I had just witnessed. Was it directors living out a fantasy, or a twisted satirical rock-rap duo (sorry guys) who released an electric single? Either way, I was locked in and needed to know more.

We met Paris Texas in New York, they were about to play their first show ever, debuting their latest album Red Hand Akimbo at Baby’s All Right, in Brooklyn on Broadway. Achilleas, my co-creator of Chuck Magazine, and I met up with Louie (left) and Felix (right) a couple hours before so we could take photos of them to (hopefully) one day include in this write up that you now read. We wanted to see these musicians before they were initiated into their music careers, baptized by guitars, drums, bars, and mosh pits. We had no idea what they would be like on the street or on stage. All we knew is we wanted to see these two soon-to-be rising stars in the flesh.

Now, one might assume a band playing their first ever live show, would possess a level of nervousness, of pretension, or even an air of hesitation. Louie and Felix of Paris Texas, displayed none of this.They were as calm, cool, and collected as they were willing to pose for our cameras in their matching vans and coaxial strides up and down Broadway. We sauntered the block, finding places to take photos, sitting on steps, leaning against light posts. We popped into a bodega, “How are you guys feeling, do you guys drink before shows?” Achilleas asked, “No, I stopped getting fucked up before playing a while ago,” Louie responded as he placed a pack of Marlboro Golds, seaweed snacks and a Yerba tea on the counter.

We entered the venue, a single rectangular room of 100 people facing a tiny rectangular stage with minimal decorations, mostly blood-stained, plastic sheets acting as a backdrop to their soon-to-be whirlwind of energy. We waited. The show began. Louie and Felix came running out wearing matching black suits with white angel wings, playing an album they had released earlier that day. The crowd went wild. As they leapt up and down and into the crowd, they looked like the prom kings they later told me they never got to be. They eventually changed into jeans and gloves and headbanged to the beautiful madness they conjured out of thin air. They belted about the absurdity of life. They spun circles to the beauty in chaos.

Their performance was electrifying. There was a visible aura around them, an unmistakable connection between forces, two brothers on stage and now us. People watching, looked on as if they too knew, this was the beginning of something that would ripple out and change music forever. They were bearing witness to the galvanizing of a brotherhood and the beginning of a beautiful musical duo. As if a perfect wave were forming, and Paris Texas was climbing to the top of it. Achilleas and I realized we were in the presence of two incredibly talented artists who were posing for two above average photographers. We had just witnessed Paris Texas.

Louie and Felix are as much rappers, singers and songwriters, as they are screenwriters and directors. They are world builders. They are trying to cultivate an atmosphere through music and film, and in doing so are carving out a genre for the 2020s. Everything they release, from a series of short films, to sixty second videos centered around lyrics from one of their songs “Ditch Maid,” to a single only available on YouTube about black Jesus, to comprehensive albums; everything is executed with the utmost intention and attention to detail. There are no half measures taken musically or visually. Their self-discovery is masterful.

A year passed. Their manager called me and said they wanted to sit down for an interview in Los Angeles. We met up in the parking lot behind a recording studio where they were working on their then unreleased album Mid Air. Achilleas, with whom I normally do all Chuck interviews, was beached on an island in Greece finding gold under his late father’s taverna. I thought I’d bring my younger brother Jett (17 at the time) with me instead. It seemed right, he could hold the lav and maybe get some questions in at the very least. Listening to Paris Texas’ 13 songs, over and over again, all summer long, I noticed how much they draw on their upbringing. I thought maybe my younger brother could see something I couldn’t, shift the conversation. Or maybe it’d just be a good time. ­

As Louie and Felix came out to sit on a bench in the parking lot, Louie drew a Marlboro gold from its pack, lit it, and sat down. “What’s up? You boys from LA?” he asked. Now preparing for an interview, with all requisite journalistic protocols in place, I had a list of questions I was looking for answers to. Once we started talking, all that went out the window, and we ended up just riffing about girls, high school, movies, locker rooms, rock and rap, the good and the bad. It went something like this:

My brother asks, “How long have you guys known each other for?”

Louie: responds, “Since 2013-2014, he met my close homie in high school French class and then we became friends.”

Felix: “No, I think it was photography.”

Jett: “Damn, I wish I went to an art school, I mean, I go to an all-boys school, an all-boys Christian school…”

Louie: “God damn!”

Felix: “Holy shit, That sounds like too much testosterone!” (Laughing)

Louie: “Hearing that, I know a couple of girls, even my ex, that went to an all-girls school, and was like, ‘It was amazing.’”(Laughing)

Jett: “I play water polo there and it’s insane, no girls, it gets so rowdy.”

Felix: “They be scratching the fuck out of you under water, they fuck you up under water. Down there it’s a war zone, imagine being angry in water bro, it’s like fighting in a dream bro. So when you get a hold of something real, some flesh, you’re doing some shit to that boy.” (Laughing)

At this point Felix, Louie, and my brother Jett are just riffing about Jett’s high school. They start impersonating the neglected coach, the wildly repressed high schooler and the overzealous freshman. Archetypes that are all addressed in their music one way or another.

Felix: (Laughing) “Niggas are bleeding in the pool, niggas a half human half tiger.”

Louie: “No one’s paying attention to mofuckers going underwater.”

Felix: “Imagine trying to swim and play a sport (laughing), you swallowed too much chlorine, get out the water.” In a coach’s voice, “Pass the ball, stop playing.” A very humorous Paris Texas double standard.

Jett: (Laughing) “But for real, who does all your visuals?”

Felix: “We write them all – honestly, we’re mainly more about the film.”

Louie: “I don’t even like rapping, I do this all for the visuals. The visual element is the most important to me and honestly the video shit was accidental. We got lucky it matched. For a long time, we weren’t doing videos because…”

Felix cutting in.

Felix: “We didn’t want to fuck it up.” (Laughing) Louie looks back.

Louie: “We kind of regret the hesitation now a little bit because I wish we had more work earlier, so it could grow with us. Now the clean slate has kind of set a precedent. We started off fire, it’s hard to go up from there, especially with a super tight video off the bat. (HEAVY METAL) The stuff I like are bootleg videos. There’s no early demo videos. I might just be projecting but I feel like fans don’t know where to jump in. I’m just guessing. Is it already a finished project? We don’t know….”

Jett: ““girls like drugs” is my favorite. I play it for all my friends, all my friends are on some alt shit too, and they still love it.”

Felix: (Laughing) “We need that. We need more young rap fans.”

Finley: “I’m thinking about how you both are friends, brothers, and a duo. How important camaraderie is between you two. How do you see yourselves as a group, as a band, as a duo or just friends figuring it out?”

Louie: “Right now we’re just chillin’.”

Felix: “A lot of groups don’t know when to quit it, and there’s always weird shit that brews within a group. There’s also weird conflict or tension, something always happens, and they’re not on the same page.”

I notice they look at each other as they explain how they work so well together.

Louie: “I always feel like what usually happens in rap groups – which Outkast didn’t do, which I’m proud of them for – a lot of times they’ll champion one person. And then everyone thinks of that one person as the lead and when they do it, that one person goes solo, everyone realizes ‘Oh this isn’t good – this isn’t what we thought it would be.’ I guess for bigger groups, it doesn’t happen so much.”

Finley: “With a group of two it can be perfect when you guys just play on each other and draw on each other’s strengths – which it feels like you guys do.”

Felix: “I think we’re still figuring it out. The rock stuff is cool. I feel that, not like it was trendy, but I feel like something happened when we wanted to switch it up because obviously, hip-hop kind of got limits. There’s only so many samples you can use. There’s definitely only so much autotune you can do. Everybody thinks the next resort after rap is rock. But people do the bare minimum of it. They’ll remember a song and think ‘I’ll use this,’ or ‘I remember Paramore, let’s just do that and maybe add some trap drums.’ I feel the rock stuff we did was not intentional. It all just kind of happened.”

After a pause Felix adds, “That’s why I think it’s so funny when people sound the same in rap, because it’s all pulling from a derivative of what once was…”

Finley: “The visuals and the divergence of your sound is bringing in a lot of different listeners to one place, you guys are carving out your own place, which is what most artists try desperately to do, and seems like you’re doing it off the cuff.”

Felix: “I was talking to my friend about that. He was like, ‘Bro just work with people that rap. Play beats and they’ll come.’ I think everybody’s just assuming that we don’t touch it. Like how we get more guitar shit. We’ll get producers that are more known maybe for rap music, they’ll just throw a guitar over it.”

Finley: “The music videos and even the snippets you release on YouTube remind me of the Cohen Brothers’ first film, “Blood Simple.” The gore and the modern western noir you guys play on. What are your top three movies?”

Louie: “I like movies a lot, big cinephiles. I think film is one of the greatest influences on our music. I watch criterion a lot. But favorite movies? I think it has to be…” Louie looks at Felix with an answer bubbling, zipping his hoodie up to the slight LA breeze.

Felix: “I know one of yours. ‘Fight Club.’”

Louie: “I love ‘Fight Club’ but everyone loves Brad Pitt, I’m not saying that one. I love Eddy Nort though. I love Tarantino too but there is a stigma to that, I can’t have Tarantino as my favorite. That’s just too easy. I think I’d have to say, ‘The Raid 1 & 2’  and ‘City of God’ and the third movie, ‘The Good the Bad and the Weird.’ It’s a Korean film. It’s really tight. Check it out. I love that movie. Have you ever seen ‘Mother?’ It’s a Korean film. It’s about this son who’s mentally challenged and they’re trying to prove that he killed someone, and spoiler alert he did. But the mother is trying to prove that he’s innocent the whole time, it’s wild.” 

Felix: “Have you ever seen ‘The Wailing?’”

Louie: “I’ve seen clips of it. There’s that scene where the guy throws up blood so the demon comes. I need to watch that movie. I’ve seen like a whole video analysis on it. I’m like, ‘I want to watch this with somebody not because I’m scared. But I don’t feel like having to watch this again.’ I like putting people on, and a lot of times I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna put you on so I can watch this again for myself. I remember as a kid I used to watch over and over and over ‘500 Days of Summer.’ I’ve seen that at least ten times.”

Finley: “Damn, you’ve seen that movie ten times. Who hurt you? What’s her name?”

Louie: (Laughing) “No, I love it. That’s a movie I watched with my mom.”

Finley: “Oh shit, so it’s your mom?”

Louie: (Laughing) “What kind of Freudian shit is that, getting all Oedipal on us. No, no, no. I saw it with my mom when I was like 14. I’d never been in love, never done anything. And my mom was like, ‘Yeah man, that nigga’s a bitch.’ I was like ‘What?’ She was like, ‘He’s a bitch, that movie is about him being a bitch.’ I’d watch that movie and I felt bad for him. Finally I understood, ‘Damn he is a lame, I will never be this guy in my life.’”

Finley: “Would you ever go full into movies?”

Louie: “Maybe write but never direct. Writing something, 100%. Directing fuck no, that’s too much work. If we do some real tight shit, like the next one. We have some shit in the works, I’ve realized there’s a point where I want to stop completely, transition totally to film.”

The sun starts setting. It’s time to go.  Louie puts his cigarette out. Felix gives my brother and I a two finger salute across his now iconic green brimmed hat and we part ways. Driving home on Sunset, Jett looks ecstatic, having just gotten so real in conversation so quickly with two artists working to make a world of visuals and music that will inspire generations to come. Looking at my brother at a red light, I think to myself, What could they possibly do next? What are these two brothers trying to embody?

A year later it all starts to make sense. Standing at the new Coke Studio in Downtown LA, it becomes obvious that Louie and Felix are the champions of their own realm. They live in a world that they created. They just got back from touring Europe, selling out at every venue from London to Berlin. In this uber corporate space, catty corner to the monstrous Crypto Arena, I stand next to Achilleas, nervous, fuck they came back after a world tour and this is the first show they’re going to play in their home town? They’re going to hate this, I think to myself. As they came charging out on stage everyone there was hanging on their every last word. They stood over 50 teenagers in a tiny venue, wilding out on sugar highs from all the free Coca-Cola.

Two songs into their quick, six song set, shirts off, the duo jumps into the crowd and falls in line with the ranks of their fans. Felix extends his neon green gloved hand motioning to form a perimeter with him and Louie centered. On the drop of his hand the crowd of kids swarm into each other and themselves, like hyenas, crazed by the music as Coca-Cola officials with badges shuffle around totally confused. Their ability to take up mics, and with an invisible lasso whip thin air into a potent mix of pure energy is staggering. I have a feeling these 50 teenagers went home that night, just as my brother did that one afternoon last summer, knowing they had just experienced the most up close and intimate display of Paris Texas ever.

With Louie and Felix playing so powerfully off each other, it’s evident they don’t need a stadium, they don’t need props, they don’t even need an opener, just each other and music. They are the directors of their own movie. Louie, the anti-hero of his own story brandishing his “kiss my black ass” trucker hat, with his best friend Felix beside him, the unsung hero. They are artists that take everyone out of their boxes. Brothers in arms.

As the set comes to an end, through the chaos in the eyes of corporate Coca-Cola, I start to see a smirk form across Louie’s face. He looks at Felix, who’s laughing as he sings lyrics. The smirk between the two of them grows into a smile. They look at each beaming, knowing they are soaring.

Thank you for doing my three-year-long Chuck Magazine interview, in your own words:

“Next round’s on me,
I’ll let you be the star.”


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