PARRI$ ISN'T SORRY
Choreographing the path to world domination one city at a time.
Parris Goebel doesn’t say sorry. And why should she? The New Zealand-born choreographer’s unapologetic attitude has been the driving force behind her success. Her choreography and all-female ReQuest Dance Crew took center stage for Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” music video which, at nearly 2 billion views, is currently the 4th most-watched video in YouTube’s history. So we’re gonna say it’s safe to assume you’ve seen it. What you probably haven’t seen, however, is the confidence that Parris brings and the creative control she demands in every aspect of her career. It’s the combination of this energy with her natural genius that’s landed her the opportunities to choreograph for Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson, and more. She’s also worked with some of South Korea’s biggest groups, included 2NE1, Big Bang, and BLACKPINK. Hash. Tag. GIRLBOSS.
As 2016 comes to a close with an American Music Award-nomination under her belt, Parris isn’t resting on her laurels. She’s dropped three singles (each with an immaculately choreographed video) in the past two months and her debut EP, Run & Tell Your Friends, drops next month. We caught up with Parris earlier this month for a quick photo sesh and interview to chat about how she handles going viral, balancing multiple careers, and the birth and maintenance of her own studio for New Zealand’s next generation of dancers.
First off, congrats on the American Music Award nomination! How’re you feeling?
Thank you! Very excited, very grateful, it’s a huge dream come true for me. It was a huge surprise, I just woke up to it and it was so awesome.
So you quit school at 15 to start dancing full-time. How did you work up the courage to take such a massive professional step at such a young age?
You’re a bit more careless and you don’t think things through as much when you’re young, which I think worked out to be quite a good thing for me. I was just a young girl with a big dream. I went off of my emotions a bit more and didn’t really know how I was gonna make it or who was gonna get me there, but I just knew I had to do this. It was less of a courage thing and more of a fearless and youthful decision. When you’re younger, you follow your heart and your gut more and they guided me toward what I wanted to do with my life.
Speaking of knowing what you wanted to do, when did you start Palace Dance Studio?
Damn. Walk us through what it was like getting it off the ground.
It was one of my really big dreams when I was younger, to have my own dance studio. I have very supportive parents who’ve helped me to bring my visions to life through my whole career. My dad helped me find a space, and I just tried to lead by example with the hope that other young kids in New Zealand would come to the studio. Not just because they love to dance, but also because they love what we’re about–chasing our dreams, giving everyone hope regardless of their background.
You mentioned during your shoot that you take the kids in your studio on a trip to L.A. every year.
There’s a massive annual competition we enter called Hip-hop International that’s basically like the Olympics of hip-hop. We make it a tradition to take all the kids there, I think it’s a great opportunity for them to see that there are people all over the world who just love to dance and to experience different cultures and countries. And also, you know, just to have them work hard towards something. They have to fundraise the money, they have to go over and compete, they have to train from dusk til dawn just to succeed in the competitions. It teaches them a lot of individual qualities and life lessons that will help them, no matter what career path they go down.
Have you seen a spike in attendance since the “Sorry” video?
Definitely, I think it’s gotten a lot of people showing more interest in dance and in what we do. I mean, that video got us a ton of attention.
It’s about to hit 2 billion views.
Really? I had no idea!
What’s it like to know that your choreography has been shown on such a massive scale?
It’s always a really nice feeling to know when people appreciate what you do, absolutely. I just, I like to share my work. I’m not someone who’s focused on views or anything like that, so I’m trying not to be fussed or defined by numbers. It’s just nice to have people come up to you and say, “Oh, I loved your work on the Justin Bieber video.” So yeah, it sits really nice.
How’d you land such a prime gig?
I got it through his manager, Scooter [Braun]. He gave me a call that he had this video concept and it just kind of happened.
What’s your method like on set?
It’s different, depending on what I’m doing. Choreographing, directing, getting involved in editing, it all stems from confidence. You have to execute anything you do with confidence if you want to be taken seriously. There’s this expectation of females being too shy to be the boss but, you know, I’m 24 now, I’ve experienced enough to know that we as women hold a lot of power.
Well, now that you’ve worked with…basically everyone, who’s left that you’ve been dying to collaborate with?
Beyoncé and Missy Elliott. Doing something for Frank Ocean or Kanye West would be really great, too.
You’ve also worked on a number of K-Pop videos as well. How does the Korean music industry differ from its Western counterpart?
It’s a different world entirely. The K-Pop world has more resources and budget to really execute the vision we’re going for. It’s a bit more of a struggle to create those moments in America because, to be honest, there isn’t as much budget, so creativity can get a bit stunted. I like it here, though, because I get to work with the artists I’ve always dreamed of working with, whereas I’m less familiar with the K-Pop artists.
Speaking of the music industry, your EP drops next month. How did you transition from dance to music?
I started last year, just sort of for fun on the side. I wound up really enjoying it, so I started taking it much more seriously around the middle of last year and started putting together a body of work. This year, it feels right, so I thought, “What the hell, time to release it.” So here we go.
You have a reputation for being a bit of a perfectionist.
Oh my God, I do? Haha, well, I won’t put something out if I’m not proud of it. Like anything else, you know, you wanna be proud of your work, so I really pay attention to detail and executing my vision. It has to be exactly what I saw in my head. I never take other people’s opinions into consideration, and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but it’s what works for me. Bringing my vision to life always takes priority.
What advice do you have for anyone else juggling multiple careers at once?
I know how hard it is, but it’s so rewarding to push yourself to fulfill your potential. It seems impossible, but it’s possible; you just have to work twice as hard as you do now. The reward internally, though, is the most amazing feeling. Not feeling like I can do something and showing myself that I can do it, that’s the biggest payoff of all.
Parris’s debut EP, Run & Tell Your Friends, drops on November 4th.
Photos by Michelle Mayer
Styling by Keely Murphy
Hair by Damon Young
Makeup by Sarah Uslan
Manicure by Tommy Bachik