In a funny way, amid all the chaos of the modern-day, new artists like Pauli represent hope, or more specifically the idea that lockdown will serve as a positive for some, a chance to break out of a shell.
Pauli has been making music and contributing to various projects for years, having started producing music as a child, but hi new EP ‘Isolation Station’ sees him emerge from the shadows and announce himself for the first time, a project born out of the isolation he’s been experiencing, and his take on others experiences, too.
I spoke to him to explore his own isolation, and what led to this moment…
Congrats on the debut EP. A strange time to release it, but what can you do! Did you do anything different because of the shutdown?
Thanks, James, I’m looking forward to seeing what the response is. To be honest, the lockdown is the thing that spurred me on to finally release some tracks. I had been planning this for a while but having more time on my hands to dedicate to doing it ‘properly’, coupled with a little spike in inspiration recently has helped me to make that final step.
Was this opportunity a kick up the rear in some senses?
Exactly right. In many ways, I was ready for this for a while now. I have been writing music for many years already, and getting better and better at home recording and production recently. With so much more time on my hands, and not having the distraction of pubs and attending gigs and whatever else, I didn’t have any excuses left. The time had come!
Obviously the music industry is differing at the moment. Can you see some benefits, too, given the impact this shutdown has had on you?
In a funny way, I can see how the current situation might benefit a complete newcomer like myself. With live events cancelled for the foreseeable future, it gives me a chance to build a following through my EP release first. I don’t have to scramble for stage time and gig opportunities, which is already a competitive marketplace, even for established acts. This way, I have an opportunity to hopefully build a bit of a following over the next few months and build some momentum that way, and be prepared for when gigs finally get going again.
After writing songs for so many years, what made these three the ones to finally make it onto a release?
Good question. Although I’ve been writing songs for many years, the three songs on this EP are actually the last three songs I have written. They were all written and recorded in March and April during the lockdown – then sent to the very talented Stephen Lovatt at Little Wolf Studios to mix and master for release.
I decided very early on to take the approach of writing three songs specifically for this project – hence the name Isolation Station. Taking that approach helped me to really focus on the creative process and get it done, whereas I think if I was picking three songs from my back catalogue I might still be wondering which ones to put out today! This way, I had no choice, the songs that I wrote were the ones I was going to release. I think as a body of work, it also helps that they come from a specific time and place.
Can you talk me through the EP – the story aspects behind it, and how it came together?
Sure – well the main theme is isolation, although I think each song deals with that subject in very different ways. Lead single ‘Cocoon’ is very much about self-isolation as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, so is extremely topical in that sense. The song title and theme comes from the term the Irish government is using as guidance to people aged 70 and over to stay at home (almost at all costs) during the pandemic.
It struck me that it was a lovely way to describe what is a very difficult situation for some. Whether logistically or due to loneliness, ‘cocooning’ is not easy for everyone. There are also very youthful-minded 70 and 80-something year olds who will struggle with the concept of it. The song also deals with digitization in the modern-day and what that means for ‘cocooners’. Despite all that, I was very careful to keep the production of the song upbeat – ultimately, the message is that better days are ahead.
Each song on the EP is different stylistically. ‘Storm’ is a more mellow song which deals with the isolation felt after suffering a loss or the ending of a relationship. The song was inspired by a lucid dream I had which is represented by a storm quickly approach and then blowing over, stoking up memories of the past.
And the third track ‘The Fear’ is more of a tongue-in-cheek song which deals with the ‘fear’ or the ‘horrors’ that come along with too many nights out on the town! Isolation by way of self-destruction I suppose.
Have you thought about how this will all work post lockdown for you – live shows, for example?
My focus right now is very much on promoting the EP and trying to gain some fans. I plan to follow up the EP with another single that I’m working on later in the Summer. I think that if there is any benefit from not having live shows right now, it is having the ability to fully focus on releasing and promoting songs. Hopefully, people will like my stuff and if that’s the case, and I can build a decent fanbase, the gigs should follow.
What have your past musical experiences been like?
Well, I’ve been playing music since I was a kid. Originally doing my piano grades. I also played trumpet in the (now unfortunately defunct) Patrician Brothers Brass Band in Galway for many years. I taught myself guitar in my early teens and would have played and sung in a couple of cover bands in my late teens and when I was in college. I’ve spent the last few years self-learning music recording and production. I have been told that “it’s about time” I released something by quite a few friends and family at this stage!
How much music do you have ready to go at the moment?
Quite a bit, haha! Well not necessarily completely ready to go but I have a lot of songs in the bank so to speak. The question is, as I develop a profile as PAULI, which songs would work for the “brand”. I would be confident that I have at least an album of material which I could release but I would plan to re-produce a lot of the songs I’ve already written to fit with the brand and the musical direction that I am going in currently.
What are your hopes for the future?
To infinity and beyond James – why not?!