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Paul K

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Paul K from 2019

MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"

I’ve been playing in bands and making music since around 1982 when I was a young teenager. I played keyboards in a few bands and recorded and played around the UK and Europe in the mid 80s. Around about 1999 I started the label, BasilicaMusic, to release music by my band of the time called Basilica. We released two albums A Life of Long Goodbyes and Sins of the Flesh and played live quite a bit around the UK. At the same time I was writing music for TV and film and my instrumental music has been featured in programmes and films all around the world. In 2007 I released my first solo album Soul Connection under the "Paul K" pseudonym and also began working on a project with a vocalist called Rachel Harvey which eventually became Glitch Code. We released our debut album Gifted_Damaged in 2016 and are currently recording the follow up Obsolete. In between working on the first Glitch Code album I wrote and released my next solo album Omertà in 2017, and, earlier this year I released my latest album The Fermi Paradox.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
I also work as a technology consultant, so if I wasn’t involved in music that would be my career path. I trained as an electro-mechanical engineer when I left school, but the evolution of computers in music got me into technology and I progressed from there.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
I have various influences and I think some are conscious and some are sub-conscious. I’ve listened to music my whole life and always continue to seek out new artists and music in any genre. I grew up listening to Bowie and then punk, post-punk, new wave, electronic, etcetera, so I would say I’m more influenced by the sound than actual artists. My music always has a mix of influences and perhaps my unique take on some of those influences. I’m also influenced by individual musicians in bands I might not be a big fan of but appreciate the musicianship of a member of that band. A good example of that would be Mick Karn and his amazing use of the fretless bass in Japan and various other projects.
MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
David Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti described Omertà as “really beautiful music..” which for me was a great accolade coming from such a distinguished producer.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
My next album Reconstructed Memories is mastered and will be released either later this year or early 2020. This is the stripped back companion to the big production of Omertà and The Fermi Paradox and is just myself and my cellist/vocalist Rachel Dawson. It’s very different to the previous albums and much more personal, but I think takes the Paul K sound in an interesting electronica direction. I’m, currently recording the new Glitch Code album, and I’ve also about 50% written for the Paul K album that will follow the next release. We are also planning some live dates with Glitch Code and an album launch show for my next album.
MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
It’s an eclectic mix of electronic, ambient, prog, rock and neo-classical that isn’t tied to any one genre and will use whatever instrumentation is necessary to achieve the desired sound. I guess you could describe it as a hybrid sound.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?
There are many I would like to work with such as Max Richter, Thom Yorke, Joep Beving, Kate Bush to name but a few!
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
From an income perspective it’s definitely a hindrance but from an exposure perspective it can be a help. I think people don’t realise that it is theft, and if you are not getting paid for your product then, like any other business, you will be out of work very rapidly, especially niche artists like myself. I think it affects the mainstream artists less, but if there is less money in the industry that means less artists get signed and there is no money to develop an artist over several albums. The industry is very much short term nowadays.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
I don’t get it if I’m honest. You pay for a ticket, travel to a show and then watch the show through a five-inch screen instead of being in the moment. You then post a shaky video with poor sound  quality, and it’s not representative of all the effort that has gone into producing a live show. I think it should be banned, but I think we are way past that point. At the Kate Bush “Before The Dawn” concerts it was banned and all the better for it as you were fully immersed in the experience
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Hmm, that’s an interesting question because I think music is an expression of yourself, so to have a musical arch nemesis would mean suppressing someone else’s art. However, if I was pushed I would ban musicals! So, probably Andrew Lloyd Webber!
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
The band Kate Bush put together for her shows would be hard to beat from my perspective, as they are some of the best players at the top of their game; Omar Hakim: drums, John Giblin: bass, Jon Carin: keys and guitar, David Rhodes: guitar, Minho Cinelu: percussion. I would add in David Gilmour on lead guitar and vocals and I could listen all night!
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
As this is from my point of view:

 

Pink Floyd (or David Gilmour solo)

Depeche Mode

Gary Numan

Hans Zimmer

The Good The Bad and The Queen

David Sylvian

Kate Bush

Madonna

Radiohead

Muse

Max Richter (Performing Sleep at the end)

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
The last album I bought was Thom Yorke’s new solo work Anima. I’ve also been listening to Joep Beving Henosis, Madonna Madam X (great production), The Good The Bad and The Queen Merrie Land (great live show to support this album), Ryuichi Sakamoto Async and Async Remodels, Sharon Van Etten Remind Me Tomorrow.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I’m just reading The Last Leonardo by Ben Lewis about the history of and the dispute amongst experts on the authenticity of “Salvator Mundi” which sold for $450M in 2017
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
The Good The Bad and The Queen at the London Palladium - great show, great musicians and a Welsh Male voice choir for good measure!
MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Gary Numan farewell show at Wembley (luckily the started touring again) in 1981.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
I really love the new Arcade sample performance  plug-in from Output. I’m a big fan of all the Output Kontact instruments and use them extensively on the albums. I’ve also acquired all the Roland Boutique range of classic synths such as the Jupiter and Juno, and they sound really authentic as well.
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Madonna
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Perhaps forgetting the names of the string section as I introduced them at a show recently as I hadn’t met them all before, had their names written on a piece of paper taped to the piano and it was so dark on stage I couldn’t see it to read! Got to the first violin and just introduced him as the guy on the violin, but luckily the others shouted out his name! (Sorry Kieran!)
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Kate Bush, David Bowie and Bill Viola
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
My favourite food is Asian (Thai), so a banquet of hot and spicy delicacies!
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
In the words of Enrico Fermi “Where is everybody?” Maybe we are alone in the galaxy after all. It’s a fascinating subject covered in depth on my album but with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing coming up it’s a question we ask again, and again that no one can answer! I hope one day we find all the answers about being alone in the universe, but in the meantime let’s try and make sure we can survive to find out and that no one feels alone and helpless on their own planet!
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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