British-born, Brooklyn-based Pauli Lovejoy is one hell of a drummer. Having spent a decade diligently honing his chops as stickman for assorted transatlantic outfits - not least Damon Albarn's mighty Gorillaz Sound System - he's also assumed the role of MD (musical director) for Jamie xx and FKA Twigs. In demand for countless high-profile gigs, and with well-received sideline modelling at both Tokyo and London fashion weeks, Pauli has opted to leave the MD world behind and focus on his solo career.
A fine songwriter and engagingly British vocalist in his own right, this stunning video courtesy of long-term collaborator Rohan Blair-Mangat should whet the public's appetite for a triptych EP currently in the works with UK producer Kwes. And so far so good - Zane Lowe is an early adopter, and the track's been prominently playlisted on Apple Music. Following Jamie Hewlett’s recent announcement that he is working on a new Gorillaz album for 2016 the mists being to stir around the project again.
Clash caught some words of wisdom from Pauli Lovejoy, a man on the cusp of greatness in his own right. We talk solo projects, working process with FKA Twigs and Damon Albarn, Gorillaz collaborations and more…
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"All of my inspirations are visual.
We put a lot of time and money into the 'i DON’T CARE' video. Nobody does that with their first release, but I think it's important to be driven by what you’re creating, not by what society expects. In my head the song started off as a 'Heavy Mellow' soundtrack anyway, and developed into a single much later. I always loved Hendrix, not so much for any particular record, but for his interaction with the crowds, and the paintings on the Monterey DVD. Similar with Pink Floyd; I was more about the Pompeii gig, the visuals in the amphitheatre, than any particular song."
"I get more English when I'm out here.
I've lived in New York for three years, so it's expected of me to assimilate, to become more American. I've become more cockney if anything; 'apples and pears', 'dog and bone'. It's mad."
"Damon's work ethic is amazing.
We all party hard on the road, but he'll be first in the gym in the morning. After the gym he'll be the first in the studio, working on the new song. I rate that. It's easy to get caught up in touring. You're in a bubble: get on a bus, play a show, party, go to sleep. Damon showed me you could have structure in touring, which I'd never seen before."
"FKA Twigs is unique.
She is a visionary. She knows exactly how things should sound, how things should be played. She writes and produces it all. She saw something in me I didn't see in my self, so I thank her for trusting her project with me, and giving me an opportunity to do something I'd not done at that level. I'm using what I learnt from her on my own own stuff now."
"A musical director is there to set the standard.
It can be very hands-on, giving younger players some words of experience, helping refine parts and so on. Or sometimes it's more about morale boosting, like being the captain of a football team: 'Come on, lads we can do it. Let's get it right.'"
"You can build everyone else's empire at the expense of your own.
I'd hate to be on my deathbed saying: 'Yes, I did all this for other people, I was an amazing facilitator, but I died with all these dreams and visions.' That's unfair on myself, and unfair on the world."
"I like pop music. Some people will try and tell you it's not worthy.
There's nothing wrong with good pop music. I love most pop music. Hip hip is the new pop, right? With 'i DON’T CARE' I just wanted to make something fun."
"Meritocracy is so important in the music industry.
The kids know when it's good. I haven't used all my industry mates, I haven't even been able to. If what you're doing isn't right, the kids won't buy into it. That's the long and short of it."
"Your talent is like an axe.
Don't get distracted and waste time on things you aren't supposed to be doing. The sharper the axe, the less swings it takes to fell the tree. My whole game now is about sharpening my axe."
Check out the video for 'i DON’T CARE' now (purchase LINK).
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Words: Andy Hill