THE STORY OF PARAGON
Where was Paragon recorded / What is the concept behind Paragon?
Paragon was created over the course of a year and a half since the release of Levitate and has changed shapes many times. Initially, it was an 8 song EP that I planned on releasing a few months back. I sent it to a few producers/friends and Diplo contacted me saying he really liked the EP and especially 3 of the songs. He thought they would be a good introductory release on his label Mad Decent. I ended up splitting the 3 songs off of Paragon to create “Wavesight” my second EP which was released on JEFFREES / MAD DECENT. JEFFREES is an offshoot of Mad Decent that offers free releases. I was left with 5 songs from Paragon but ended up putting a couple out as singles, and keeping a few that are now on the current version of the EP. I especially like some of this material because even after a year of sitting on it, I still like it as much as i did before and is thus standing the test of time.
Paragon by definition means “An ideal instance or a perfect embodiment of a concept” and although I don’t think that Paragon is “perfect” it is a great representation of my life and influences throughout the last year and a half. (I would like to note that some of my best/favorite work has actually been inspired by imperfection). Since the release of the Levitate EP I have made close to 100 songs and weeding it down to 11 songs was not an easy feat, but that is what created my concept for Paragon. Its my favorite moments or ideal instances in my musical life, mixed together into a cohesive piece that is intended to be listened to in its entirety. I also made the EP so it doesn’t stick to a certain concept for too long and generally shows a love for music, as opposed to a certain genre.
As far as the actual recording process, it was recorded in various studios across the US and in my main studio in Colorado. While on the road i recorded in Nashville, LA, Philadelphia, New Orleans, New York and Denver (not to mention on the tour bus, planes, cars etc). I definitely draw inspiration from different parts of the country and music thats being created in different ways. Although I enjoy making music on the go I find that it always comes into final shape when i take the ideas to my home studio. Incorporating real instruments and analog gear definitely seems to be a necessity in my process.
The artwork for Paragon was created by Nook, a New York based illustrator. We have been working together essentially since the beginning of the Paper Diamond project. I initially reached out to him because i feel that his art is capable of taking a person to a distant place when looking at it. We are creating a story with the art and music of Levitate, Paragon, and our future projects. Its the idea of creating another world or parallel universe, a distant place suspended in weightlessness. An escape from every day reality. You can find more of Nook’s work at http://raccoonnook.com .
You’ve been touring with Excision for the past 3 months – has that influenced you in any way while making this EP? What was the crowd reception like? Did you play harder sets?
I’m like a sponge and i am definitely sensitive to all the sounds and music around me. Being on tour with Excision was an amazing experience and although I was concerned about going on a 3 month tour prior, it turned out to be amazing! People who go to see Excision generally seem like they just want to have their mind blown by music, and thats exactly why i do what i do. I’m always looking for that new crazy thing to musically blow my own mind! I love playing music that makes people freak out/ dance/ scream/crowd surf etc and doing 60 packed shows across North America definitely helped me hone my live set along with a good understanding of how to get certain reaction in the live setting. If i could go back and do it again, i definitely would!
How would you describe the paper Diamond sound and how is that displayed on the various tracks on the EP?
My sound is diverse, wide ranging. I generally just love the process of writing music and it always seems to be different every time i go at it. Sometimes the process are the similar but it always renders different results.
Tell us about Gavin Turek, the singer you just collaborated with in LA, how did you both connect. What did you like about her voice? Did you create the track with her or created the track and then gave it to her?
I initially heard her sing on one of Tokimonsta’s new songs and was instantly interested. I knew that I had a few songs that could be amazing with female vocals and Toki’s manager (a friend of mine Lewis Kunstler) made the introduction. I sent her a few songs hoping that she would pick the one she ended up picking. She wrote to it on her computer speakers and even with just the rough recording i could tell it was going to be amazing. She went into the studio in LA and I mixed and mastered everything in Colorado. I’m really happy with the way that song in specific turned out. She killed it.
They Can’t Tell Me Nothing features some original rapping from Jay Fresh — how did you decide to work with him?
I started to work with Jay Fresh after he opened a show for me in Dallas Texas about a year or so ago. I could tell he could really rap and after a bit, he just started to send me acapellas he records in Texas. I go through and find something that catches my ear and weave it into something meaningful that I can relate to. Thats how I know people will like it… when its real!
Can you tell us about more of the collaborators with artists or rappers that are coming out on Paragon?
Comparatively to my first EP, I did collaborate with more producers, singers, and rappers on this new release. People like Protohype, Buku, and Christian Rich, who are all up and coming producers, were amazing to work with. In most cases we met and made the songs in person which was very helpful as far as blending each individual style, but it wasn’t always finished in the same room etc. As far as vocalists on the record, Angela Mccluskey, Gavin Turek, Cherub, and J fresh each had a different method in which the songs were made. Cherub is a group that released their first two EPs on my label Elm&Oak. We recorded that song a little over a year ago in my studio in colorado. Their music is amazing as well.
Do you have any ideal collaborations with old school rappers or hip-hop artists like for instance, Jay Z, Dr. Dre or Kayne West?
Making a song is like having the perfect key for the perfect lock. There are TONS of people that I would love to work with wether its rappers, bands, singers, producers etc and am 100% reaching for the top. As long as the music is dope, thats really all that matters.
I’ve seen pictures from your last tour’s productions – which looks really legit, do you have any plans to change it up this year?
We have a brand new concept for our live show, something that has not been done before. I can’t divulge too much information but we’re hoping to unveil this idea at bonnaroo, or very soon.
You started your own record label and management company, Elm and Oak, have you signed anyone recently that you are really excited about?
2013 has literally been filled literally with travel and working on the Paper Diamond EP. Its been interesting as I was in a different city every day literally from january until mid april. However, at the Elm and Oak gallery there are still weekly events, monthly rotating art shows, and a slew of art projects happening at all times. As far as the label side of things go, I usually release only things that i REALLY like and care about. Since i’ve been on the move so much, I’m just now getting a chance to go through all the submissions. There will be a lot more releases to come during the summer months.
If you could break down the meaning behind Paragon in one sentence… what would that be?
In a world where so many crazy things are happening at once, music has always been my escape. Paragon is a chance for people to escape daily life and be surrounded in a different world of music.