Paul White Interview

On the same day musician Paul White drops Rapping With Paul White – The Remix EP as a free download from his bandcamp page and to stream below – in a first for the producer, the record includes a trio of sample-free tracks on which Paul plays drums and synths – we are also pleased to present an interview with the south London based beat maker who tells us his top five rap albums of all time, his eclectic working methods and explains why he nearly always includes his full name in the title of his albums.

What is often overlooked and underestimated in much of present day electronic music is its deep-seated influence and growth from hip-hop. Let’s be thankful for Paul White then who, with Rapping with Paul White, has produced an album that unashamedly harks back to the glory days of hip-hop. Enlisting a range of rappers ranging from American big boy Guilty Simpson to UK underground darling Jehst, White showcases a high quality study in beat production not dissimilar to Clams Casino. But what I prefer about White’s LP is its candidness.

It’s not trying to be something it’s not, that much is clear from the album’s title, not biting off more than it can chew, simply revelling in the beats and the rhymes that go with it. It is an uncomplicated master class and celebration that takes pride in its love for early 90s hip-hop. Revivalism has never felt so fresh.

What made you want to switch from the more prog/ psych-rock sound on Paul White & The Purple Brain to this more future funk/ break beat sound?

It wasn’t like I was going out to consciously do one thing then switch to the other – I try and do lots of different things all the time.  It worked out well doing The Purple Brain project, that was great fun just using one source material. Rapping With was a mix of other things I try and do, some of the beats on Rapping… are actually older than those on Purple Brain….

Explain the decision behind having a poem read by folk singer Nancy Elizabeth on the new album?

I had this weird little track, and one day Alex at One-Handed suggested Nancy do something with it.  Me and Nancy had already met and talked about doing something, so we found that poem and it worked out well.  I just had to use the take with her laughing because it always made me laugh every time I heard it!

“I like the idea of listeners being surprised too, not expecting what to come along! It’s all about fun – music to me is all about free creativity with no boundaries!”

How did you decide on the various American and British MC’s for Rapping with Paul White?

Well I obviously wanted Guilty on there after doing the Ancient Treasure track with him from the Purple Brain album.  The hook up on that track came through Egon at Now Again, then through Guilty I met House Shoes, even though we’d spoken a little before.  That created the Danny Brown and Marv Won connection, then we found Homeboy Sandman and Moe Pope who were both dope too. Obviously I also wanted some UK rappers on there too, which lead me to Tranqill and Jehst.  It’s an honour to have all these people on my album, it was a lot of fun I was getting up really early everyday to work on it!

How did you get Guilty Simpson on board the album?

Apart from doing the track with him on the Purple Brain, Alex at One-Handed – who also works for Stones Throw – hit him up as he’d been sending him beats after he heard The Strange Dreams album and liked it. So we sent him a load of tracks and he picked from them. It’s amazing to get to work with Guilty.  There’s more coming soon hopefully…

What are you top five rap records of all time?

We’ll five rap albums i grew up on were:

Blacksheep – A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
Old Dirty Bastard – Return To The 36 Chambers
Pete Rock – Soul Survivour
The Pharcyde – Labcabincalifornia
Group Home – Living Proof

Why do you always include your name in all of your album titles?

I’ve never really thought about it!  There’s “Sounds From The Skylight”, which is an exception.  I suppose with the idea of using such a regular name, my normal real name, it’s worked out funny seeing it in a new strange context.  I’s not an ego thing it’s a funny jokes thing!

How do you feel about being called the ‘21st century DJ Shadow’?

Well I grew up listening to him, I used to love his stuff and listen to it a lot, so he’s definitely been an influence and inspiration for sure. I’m honoured I suppose, but also would like to be thought of as myself first and foremost!

What is it you prefer about creating one long sound arc as opposed to just one track at a time?

I don’t prefer it, I like doing it all – I just like creating an experience, a journey, a world you can just go off into!

What with Wayne (Francis) who plays with United Vibrations, Henry (Keen) from Soundspecies and Mo Kolours (Joseph Deenmamode), would you say that there a scene developing in south east London?

For sure!  It’s cooking up gradually!  It’s weird – it feels like there’s suddenly lots of creative people in Peckham.  I just moved into a place with Henry from Soundspecies who I’ve known for about 6 years now through a music college we both worked at, also Wayne from United Vibrations.  I also live with a guy called Robbie who’s an amazing jazz piano player, my mates Mo Kolours and Tightface live down the road, and through all of us we know another load of musicians.  It’s crazy, people just need to start hooking up, its gradually happening I think.

Paul White and One-Handed Music label mate Mo Kolours play live at London’s Camp on 11th November.

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