Interviews

Interview: Aaron Paul

Once again we’re thrilled to welcome Aaron Paul back to the Divine site. We interviewed Aaron back in August 2015 and he was brilliant with his answers and simply exploded with energy off the page. As he’s a sucker for punishment, he let us torment him again…welcome back Aaron. It’s wonderful to have you here with us.

We were first introduced to Aaron Paul as the London-born, NYC-raised lead singer of the internationally-renowned boy-band Worlds Apart.  The group came to the attention of Arista Records executive Simon Cowell (“American Idol”, “America’s Got Talent” and “X Factor”) who, impressed by Aaron’s voice, natural performance skills and fun personality, positioned him as the original lead vocalist/frontman and led the group to their chart success. In 2014, Aaron released “Raw”, his critically-acclaimed chart-topping debut album. The album produced the edgy club-banger “PnP (Party N Play)” as well as the #1 pop-dance anthem, “I Don’t Care”, Aaron’s first #1 single as a solo artist.

Now, Aaron is releasing “Electric Erotic”, his sophomore album featuring the title track. The album includes production and remixes from some of today’s finest producers including UK-based Billboard chart-remixer Stormby (Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Tove Lo), veteran New York DJ Peter Tanico, Peter Monk and Reggae master ‘Virgo’ Paul Bennett who has worked with artists including Burning Spear

Aaron is back and stronger than ever, with his “Shine Bright”, the laidback, summer-flavored advance buzz-single from “Electric Erotic”, charting for several weeks on the Pop Chart Radio Plays chart (Spin Reports) and at the time of writing this interview, it’s at #23.

Aaron Paul

So, let’s once again ask Aaron some of the fun questions (he told me he loves answering these so I gave him an extra one)

If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?

My hair. I wish I had the option of growing my hair back. I’ve been shaving my hair bald and wearing this look since I was 21. So I think I’ve shaved off all my hair follicles over the years. Now my hair grows back patchy. I see so many people with dope hair styles and I say to myself, how I wish I could have that style or have the option to grow it long, color it, braid it and twist it. There are so many things you can do these days with hair. But I am happy with my bald look. No hair. Less maintenance.

What was the last thing you dressed up as for fancy dress?

Last Halloween. A photographer friend of mine had his yearly Halloween party. And he goes all out. The whole house is covered with Halloween decorations. I went as a pirate. I looked like Captain Jack Sparrow with a major sun tan.

What’s your most expensive piece of clothing?

Ooooh that’s a tough one. Cause I shop all over the place…including thrift stores, markets, stores and online. And I also shop in woman’s clothes stores. I’m a small guy so everything fits me perfectly. I have a ton of clothes. My mother’s basement is overflowing with my clothes that I wear to events, performances and also just my everyday stuff. It’s really hard to say what’s the most expensive though. Aww hold on… I have a GSTAR RAW leather jacket that I brought in Los Vegas a few years back. I think I paid $1200 for it.

As a kid were you ever frightened of a monster under the bed or in the cupboard?

Under the bed. Even now, I still won’t look under the bed at night or sleep with doors open etc. It’s something that has stayed with me since a child. I remember being young and seeing three alien-like monsters walking by my bed one night. And all three went down in size in a row – tall, medium and small. To this day all these years later, I still swear I saw them.

Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?

I have to say dragons because we still don’t have proof that they exist. But many cultures have portrayed them in stories and pictures. Plus, Scotland is my favorite country, visually, with its green mountains, hills and locks with fog and mist everywhere. It scenery looks as though a dragon could fly over you anytime. It’s so serene and mystic.

If you could have any feature from an animal what would you want?

I would love to have wings of a bird. Imagine being able to fly. It beats taking public transport or being packed in a car for hours dealing with traffic. I could also save on airline tickets.

Have you ever been approached by someone who knew you but you couldn’t remember them for the life of you?

YES, it happens all the time, especially in this business. It’s embarrassing. You don’t want to appear rude or have that person feel like they’re not important enough for you to remember them.

Okay, fun over, now we put Aaron under the microscope and get down to business.

Aaron PaulIt’s been said that coming out helped you achieve your first #1 hit. Until then, you’d been worried about what your teen-girl fan base might think if you said you were gay. Tell us a bit about this decision and the subsequent hit.

My #1 hit song “I Don’t Care” speaks volumes. When I was writing the lyrics, I was scared that all would be revealed about me publicly. And how would my past audience react? But an inner voice said, go ahead and write it and put it out. Imagine the lives you will touch with its powerful message.

It is one of the best things I ever did. The song hit #1 on the dance charts and put me on the map here in the US. I get messages every day from people who say that my lyrics speak to them. And not just the LGBTQ community. That’s what I wanted – for it to speak to everyone. It became an anthem. I have new anthem for 2017 with my new song, “Every Life Matters”. I didn’t intend on having another song like this. But the recent attack at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando made me so sick to my stomach that I had to write this song. And once again it speaks to all because every life does matter. A lot of people are losing their lives to senseless hate crimes and attacks because they look different or live alternative lifestyles. And that is not right! Blacks, Gays, Cops. All become victims to these senseless acts. That why I called the song “Every Life Matters”. We filmed the music video at the legendary Stonewall Inn in NYC, the birthplace of the LGBT civil-rights movement.

We understand that in show business, making such a decision to come out is purely a personal one and the person has to be ready to do it. Have you any words of advice to offer someone who might be considering this, and going through the same decision process you had to?

Each of us has our own unique, personal journey. I definitely had my own which has made me the person I am today. It was not an easy road. Just make sure you are mature enough to handle what comes your way once you take the leap. And make sure you have a solid support system around you. There is no wrong or right time – it’s when you are personally ready.

Downton Abbey is a huge TV hit and we believe you have a little story to tell us involving one Victoria Beckham about this. Do spill the beans on this one, please. Eager ears await.

I once had a job at the SOHO house in NYC. Many celebrities would pass through daily And Victoria Beckham was a guest for a few days. I was assigned to look after her. I was hoping that she would not recognize me from my group Worlds Apart. But after the second day, she said, “you look so familiar, but I can’t quite place where I know you from.” I kept my mouth shut, but she eventually she blurted out, “OMG, you’re Aaron from Worlds Apart.” I was caught!
Downton is one of my favorite shows. Me and mom watched it religiously. We are now into the Queen Victoria series.

There have been some setbacks in your career that we know of, such as the time Smash Hits magazine, a leading (now defunct) UK music magazine, scrapped an album cover because they thought the multi-cultural band looked “too ethnic”. Can you elaborate on this for us?

Remember, this was the early 90s and a lot of progress has been made since that time. When our first record hit the charts, Smash Hits decided to put us on the cover as the new IT boy band. They spent a few thousand UK pounds for this elaborate shoot with a top photographer and stylists etc. We were excited because it was the bible of pop music in the UK and certainly a dream come true for me because I religiously read and grew up on it. A week before the magazine went to press, our publicist at the record label sat us down ad said that Smash Hits had abandoned the plan to put us on the cover because the group was too multi-racial.  They were concerned that their sales with us on the cover would decline because of the racial makeup of the group. The magazine previously had Boys to Men on the cover and they just had a worldwide hit record, but that issue was their lowest-selling issue ever. The only ethic artists that could guarantee huge sales with them on the cover were Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. We were devastated by this news. We ended up with a four-page spread in the middle of the magazine instead. This kind of thing happened often back then. Sometimes they would only put the Caucasian members of the group as posters and often left the ethic members of the group out.  But what could you do? At the end of the day, it was my voice everyone was hearing on the records. Definitely a sad sign of the times!

When you were 18, Simon Cowell sent you to sing for a multi-million-dollar producer at the Hit Factory. We understand that didn’t turn out so well, care to tell us about it?

OMG, I remember this story so well. And I use what happened here as the start of my take-no nonsense-from-anyone outlook to this day.  Simon Cowell sent me to work with the PWL (The Hit factory) producers who had written and produced multiple hits with various artists since the 80s ie: Kylie Minogue, Donna Summer, Rick Ashley and many more. They wrote a hit song for us to record for our album and I went to the PWL studios to lay down the vocals. I was so excited to record with these music giants and become part of their huge catalog. I went into the session all eager and wide eyed and honored to have the experience.

The moment I walked in, the producer did not acknowledge me – did not greet me, shake my hand or even look me in the eye. He barked at me to go into the recording booth and start singing even though I had not even heard the song I was about to sing. I started to sing from the lyric in front of me. The producer made several attempts for me to start over and each time became more angry. I felt belittled and nervous. He finally ripped me a new one and explained how he had worked with the world’s best singers, that I was a complete waste of time and had no right to call myself a singer. I was so angry after he put me down that I told him that he could shove his hit song up his … you-know-what. I told him that I wasn’t going to sing his damn song and that he could tell Simon Cowell why. I stormed out of the building into my car and drove to the record company. Simon called me on my cell phone and asked what had happened. I told him. Simon begged me to give another try with them because the song was a hit. After a few days, Simon persuaded me to go back and record the song. When I walked into the studio, the producer greeted me kindly, apologized for the way he behaved and that, in all his years as a producer, no one had ever spoken back to him. He admired my courage to put him in check the way that I did. We ended up recording the song in less than two hours and the song became one of my best vocals on that album.

It was said about your song ‘I Don’t Care’ that it had a strong anthem and social message about equal rights and accepting and loving yourself. It’s something that’s close to Divine’s heart as well and we embrace the philosophy. How do you feel this song in particular has contributed to both it and you being a positive ‘role model’ for the LGBTQ community and young people in general?

The song is about embracing yourself, and taking ownership of your true being. And to be proud of who you are, regardless what people think of you, or how different you are from everybody else. I live by this. And by taking this kind of attitude I have seen my whole life and career shape for the best. People respond to the truth. I live in my truth. I’m proud of who I am and what I have done with my life. I am extremely humbled that my song has touched members of the LGBTQ community. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think my work would have such an impact like this song has. It’s one of my proudest moments and best things I’ve ever done writing “I Don’t Care”. I will continue to use my voice, work and platform to bring together all people, promote all things positive and be a role model for our community.

How did you find the transition from the UK to the US – what challenges did you face in changing to another country in terms of your personal life and from your career perspective?

Both countries are similar, but yet so different. I could be free here in my life. And live the life I want to live. It’s been a slow climb in terms of my career. I came here expecting to have this fabulous career right of the back of my career in the UK. It’s taken me 20 years to get America to start looking in my corner. But it feels great because I’m set out to do what I’m doing now. And to be given a second chance in this industry as a solo artist. There is still so much ground to cover and I’m just scratching the surface. I’m excited to see what’s ahead.

What inspires your song writing? Is it something you hear, something you see, feel. Perhaps a dream you wake up from and quickly get the ideas down on paper. We’re sure the lovers of your music would love to know what goes into creating the beautiful songs we listen to.

Songwriting is the easy part for me. I have been given that gift. I’ve always had it. Everything else is the hard part. lol. I get inspired from conversations and experiences, phrases or stories. Some stories are personal and other stories are from other people or world news, currents affairs or pop culture. I can hear melody on almost every piece of music I’m given and translate that into words, sounds and textures. And then I have a song. It’s like building a house. You lay the foundation and add the layers.

Once again we want to thank Aaron for being such a good sport while we grill him. Thanks so much for visiting and we hope to speak to you again soon!!

Listen to Aaron’s sound here.

 

About Aaron Paul

www.AaronPaul.Dance

F: www.facebook.com/aaronpaulmusic | T: @APaulMusic

IG: @AaronPaulMusic | SC: https://soundcloud.com/aaronpaulofficial

 

 

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