Although he's a key member of Arcade Fire's core lineup, Canadian singer/songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry is also part of Bell Orchestre and New International Standards, as well as a collaborator with contemporaries like the National, Sufjan Stevens, and Islands. As part of the Grammy-winning Arcade Fire since their start, Parry is known for his on-stage energy and passionate performances. As a solo artist, he released the instrumental epic Music for Heart and Breath in 2014 and the two-part Quiet River of Dust in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Born in Ottawa, Parry was raised in a family of musicians deeply rooted in the local folk music community (his father was in the Toronto-based collective Friends of Fiddler's Green). He studied literary arts and later electroacoustics and dance at university. In the early 2000s, the seeds for two separate bands were planted. Bell Orchestre, which included future Arcade Fire bandmates Sarah Neufeld and Tim Kingsbury, formed in 2002. They released a trio of efforts, including 2009's As Seen Through Windows, which won a Juno for Best Instrumental in 2011. Around the same time Bell Orchestre formed, the original incarnation of Arcade Fire came into being, with Parry's role as studio hand blossoming into a full-time membership in the group. After releasing the Arcade Fire EP in 2003, the band's roster was revamped, with Parry recruiting Bell Orchestre bandmates Neufeld and Kingsbury, as well as Jeremy Gara of other side project New International Standards. Arcade Fire's critically acclaimed debut Funeral arrived in 2004. Parry handled electric guitar, synthesizer, organ, piano, accordion, xylophone, percussion, and double bass, as well as tackling engineering and recording duties. A string of Canadian and U.S. chart-toppers followed, along with multiple Polaris and Juno Award nominations and an Album of the Year Grammy for their third album, 2010's The Suburbs.
In 2012, Parry contributed a handful of solo works to various compilations and soundtracks, including a Talk Talk tribute album. Two years later, in between Arcade Fire double-album Reflektor and the dance-friendly Everything Now, Parry released the instrumental Music for Heart and Breath on Deutsche Grammophon. A sweeping orchestral epic, the album was recorded with yMusic, Kronos Quartet, Nico Muhly, Nadia Sirota, and Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the National.
In 2018, as promotion for Arcade Fire's fifth LP, Everything Now, wrapped up, Parry released Quiet River of Dust, Vol. 1, which was inspired by Japanese folk myth, British folk music, and his experiences on a trip to Japan in 2008. Recorded with his father's former colleagues, the set featured the delicate, atmospheric single "On the Ground." The following year saw Parry issue Quiet River of Dust, Vol. 2, which was recorded at the same time as its predecessor, and explored more interior themes. ~ Neil Z. Yeung