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Gone With The Flow

Music meets art in an exciting new collaborative project which sees alternative rock duo, Para Lia partner with New York-based painter, Louis Renzoni to create an album that is intrinsically linked with the artist’s exploration of light and dark.

Growing up in Falkenberg in former East Germany, Para Lia’s Rene Methner dreamed of one day escaping his confines and getting his music to like-minded people in ‘The West’, but also working with them. With new album Gone With The Flow – recorded with his fellow band member and wife, Cindy – he has done just that, but now unexpectedly finds himself locked down again.

Despite the current constraints, the alternative rock duo has teamed up with New York visual artist, Louis Renzoni on a joint project that sees not only a new album from Para Lia, but also an art exhibition. The exhibition was slated to open in gallery space in New York before transferring to Berlin and then London, but now a bespoke online set up will circumvent the current situation and make the work available globally.

For Methner, collaborating with artists from different corners of the world is a dream come true:

“You have to imagine, I grew up in East Germany, so when I was a child I never dreamed I would come into contact with musicians from all over the word, or an artist from New York City,” he explains. “It just would not have seemed possible at that time – it’s very cool!”

Methner vividly remembers developing a strong passion for music from the age of 11, getting the musical bug after performing New Order’s Blue Monday on stage at a holiday camp – brandishing makeshift guitars made of paper. Getting his hands on a real guitar of his own when he was 16, and inspired by The Pixies, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins, he hasn’t put it down since.

Methner met his now-wife in 2014, and he soon discovered that their voices perfectly complemented one another:

“If you want to light a fire, one spark is needed, and Cindy was the spark who came into my life,” he reminisces. “It was a few years until I asked her to sing into a mic though. I had this one song that I was working on and I wanted to try it out with her voice. From that moment on, Para Lia was born, because she was exactly what the song needed – and what the music needed. I also call her my muse; Cindy makes Para Lia complete and is the cherry on top of our music.”

Describing Para Lia as more of a studio band rather than a live one (for now, anyway), Methner says that the duo’s name takes its meaning from the greek word, Paralia – meaning beach or coastline.

An artist without his own personal muse is nothing. Rene Methner

“Greece is a special country; I always feel like I’m coming home when I go to Greece. Also, the band I was in when I was 18 needed a name,” he adds. “Me and the guys in the band had a discussion with a glass of German beer in hand about the name – we discussed it for nights and nights, and we landed on The Shuttlecocks. It is one of the most stupid band names in history!” he laughs.

“This is what happened when we discussed it for a very, very long time! So what I did with Cindy was, we were at the beach in the evening and we just said, ‘we have to give the band a name: Para Lia? Yes!’ And that was it!”

Upon discovering each other online, Para Lia and artist Renzoni quickly struck up a dialogue that set the scene for not only friendship, but also for collaboration. The plan was hatched for Renzoni’s next exhibition to be soundtracked by the music from Gone With The Flow, with the album itself also boasting images from him, as well as songs directly inspired from the visual art.

“Louis got in touch and said that he listened to our music and that he almost fell out of his chair because our music paints with these subtle layers and tones,” says Methner. “He paints in the same way I paint with music, so we had conversations about art and music and about understanding philosophy. I was inspired by his work to write songs for the new album.”

The result is Gone With The Flow, which is the exploration between light and dark. Inspired by Renzoni’s work, the album weaves in the artist’s vision of complexity and layers, and hopes to encourage the listener to interpret its meaning, as people do with pieces of art.

Renzoni sowed the seed for the album’s lead track, Riders On The Dike with one of his exhibitions in New York – the track acting as the light to the dark of the accompanying album track, Children Of The Flood, which features singer Amanda Kim Sanderson.

Although Methner doesn't have a favourite track on the new album, My Muse does hold a special place in his heart:

“Louis painted a picture, which directly inspired this song – you can tell that the person who wrote this song really understands this painting, and there is a connection between the two artists expressing themselves. I wanted to express the importance of an artist having a muse too, because an artist without his own personal muse is nothing. Every song is something very personal. The most beautiful compliment I got is from Cindy, who after she listened to each song, said she can see us in each one.”

Gone With The Flow will be formally released on 2 October 2020, one day before the 30th anniversary of Germany’s Reunification.