To celebrate the release of Paul White‘s new album ‘Shaker Notes‘, released today via R&S Records, we caught up with the London based electronic musician to find out more about the makings of the album, his relationship with Peckham in South East London and what he has planned following the release of the album. Paul has also compiled a 10 track YouTube Mix Tape featuring music from The Beatles, J Dilla, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Chris Isaak and more.
How long have you been working on your new album ‘Shaker Notes’? Is there is an underlying theme running within it?
The underlying theme is self discovery through a love experience, because that’s basically what I went through, still am, always will, we all do! We’re our own world unfortunately due to the ego, so to study ourselves is to study the world I think, we make this world, inside our heads first then externally, good or bad, and that fascinates me a lot.
The material on this record has been made over the last couple of years, whilst also working on other projects. I’m always writing different things, and I started to notice a group of songs that were all themed around what was going on in my life directly, and they were played live too, they were like messages to myself, it just became fascinating to me how much I was being forced to learn and discover, so I kept going with it and kept grouping certain tracks together!
‘All We Know‘ was written nearly 2 years ago in a flat in Peckham, through to ‘Running On A Rainy Day‘, which was written 6 months ago in my place in Lewisham, so it’s really a diary of the past 2 years of my life, personally and musically.
My manager Alex and I decided we should take this new project to a new label, since it’s pretty different from all the music I’ve released before. Not that my relationship with One-Handed isn’t still great, it is!! I’ll always love One-Handed, that will always be special till I die, and I have a scar on my hand to always remember it by!
When we sent the record to a couple people, Renaat at R&S just loved it and showed real excitement and energy! I clicked with him straight away when we met and knew R&S would be a great home for this album!
How does Shaker Notes differ to your previous albums and records? In terms of production, approach to using different instruments, the live element and the development of vocals.
It’s totally different for me because it’s played live rather than working with samples; it was a great challenge and lots of fun! Most of my music till now has been sample driven, I’ll always sample and make beats for people, but for my own thing I wanted to go back to my musical roots a bit and play instruments again, go full circle, now with all this new musical knowledge I’ve learned through being exposed to amazing varied music through record collecting and sampling. So it just felt natural and right, and was something I always wanted to do!
My plan is to start sampling myself! I’d say the approach was the same in terms of just having fun and experimenting, but the process was different because of the different instruments used, saying that all my music is pretty much improvised and just made on the spot through how I’m feeling rather than having a goal before hand, its all about flipping it up for yourself that’s how you learn and develop and don’t get bored. Music should always be just free and fun, so I just followed my heart with new things I wanted to experiment with!
Shaker Notes came out of that and what was going on in my life! Vocally I was mainly just improvising, not writing anything down, singing slight messages, as textures.
It’s tough to pick one out, but what track is your favourite and why?
That’s like saying you have a favourite child if you have 10 kids, that’s kind of impossible! They are all special to me! If forced though I guess the two tracks with members of my family feel specifically special to me, “Where You Gonna Go” with my sister Sarah Williams White and ‘Sitting In Circles‘ with my uncle James White, but now I feel guilty for the rest of the tracks, just don’t tell them!
For me your music sits alongside the likes of Jamie Lidell. Do you ever compare yourself to other musicians as such?
I have this story in my head that wont leave that I heard Joe Zawinul say in a documentary I think it’s great, he said his first gig he had he sat in for the piano player of his favourite local band that was ill that night, he was so happy and excited, the gig went great, after the gig someone came up to him and said “That was amazing I didn’t even realize it wasn’t the original piano player, then I saw it was you and not the normal guy, you sounded just like him you were great“.
Zawinul said first he felt really happy the person had said that, then 10 seconds later thought what the fuck that’s not good I want to sound like me not him, so he went home put all his records in the garage so he wouldn’t be influenced and they’re still there today! Even if that isn’t true I like the point he’s making. I mean its both for me, it is true I’ve started listening to a lot more varied styles of music in the last 2 years, but to compare too much wouldn’t help my creativity, personally!
Where are you currently based in London? How does your surrounding environment help shape your approach to music?
Well at the moment I really need to move, my studio almost flooded the other day it scared the shit out of me! I’m in Lewisham near Peckham in South East London; I’ve always lived in South East! Got all my musical partners in crime all around here!
Lewisham is very raw and real, and quite poor really, growing up it was rough as shit, I used to feel like I had to carry around a pool ball in a sock it wasn’t fun. But now it’s all good, I love the realness of Lewisham, real people real lives no bullshit, just people trying to survive! Your surroundings are everything!
Mainly I love the energy and multi culture of London, Lewisham and surrounding areas there’s people from all over the world! Plus it feels like everyone down hear is growing together at the moment so it feels real nice!
Where do you like to hang out and relax? Do you spend much time with other producers and musicians and do they have much influence on you?
Not in Lewisham ha! I go out to the countryside, love going to Cornwall for surf, not that I do that enough! I relax in my studio, and work on my studio, so I’m lucky!
My studio is my toyshop and my therapist! I relax by listening to music or watching documentaries, listening to Alan Watts lectures help me see straight! I feel lucky that I have amazing friends that are also great musicians close by, there’s a long list so I won’t even start, we all inspire each other I’m sure and push each other, and we all jam with each other it’s great! Lots of plans to form groups, it’s just hard because everyone’s busy doing their own thing, which is dope though!
What’s the plan now that you’ve released the album, live shows, tour, more music, remixes?
Yep the lot! I’ve finished an album under a group name Golden Rules with a vocalist from Florida called Eric Biddines that’s all finished and will be out the start of next year hopefully!
Also been collaborating with a load of great people I feel lucky and inspired, Jamie Woon, Jesse Hackett, more stuff with Danny Brown, Trim and Jehst, I’m producing an EP for a duo from LA called Red Ferguson, been working with Thunderbird Gerard, Fem Fel, Simbad, Arni from The Vaccines, gonna be doing a project with Mike Eagle I can’t wait to start, World’s Fair.
Live shows, remixes, and more of my own stuff, got loads of ideas! Staying busy! I just always wish I didn’t need to sleep its rubbish; someone needs to invent a tablet that isn’t cocaine!
Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share?
Do what makes you happy and don’t compromise! Be you, forget what everyone else is doing! Have confidence in your own ideas! Remember life’s short so enjoy every second, if you really live in the moment every second is your whole life anyway so you won’t compromise!
Finally, can you tell me about the tracks you’ve selected for your mix tape?
JJ Cale my dad used to play to me as a baby, Okie the album cover is one of the first images I can remember and always thought it was a view from inside a car looking out the front windscreen, I thought the train wheel was actually a steering wheel, only when I was older did I realise that it was a side view of a train! Whenever I look at that cover I feel some crazy feeling because I can see both!
My dad also owns a lot of John Coltrane records, but the expression in Africa just hit me and stayed with me more than any other, I love that main melody so much, all based around one bass note! Those drums too wow!
Three Little Birds by Bob Marley just feels like the most calming song for me, it’s like a camomile tea, the lyrics are just so beautiful, again have been listening to that since I was very young, so it feels real warm!
Weather Report is another of my dad’s favorites and have always been a big influence even though I couldn’t fully appreciate them until I was a little older, Joe Zawinul is one of my hero’s, Nubian Sundance is just incredibly beautiful, sounds like early drum and bass, and I’m sure they’re using samples, it sounds like real life, Zawinul also wrote In A Silent Way for Miles, I could listen to that everyday forever and never get bored, I actually just did a cover of it!
Michael Jackson was my first real love of music consciously as a kid, that was the first music I listened to non stop on my Walkman and dream of making music, I used to skate round SE London listening to Bad and Thriller until it was playing half speed because the batteries were dying! Everything about Human Nature is beautiful and so honest, love the lyrics, the title says it really!
Wooden Ships appeared on one of my favorite British skate videos as a kid, I remember my dad walking in and telling me what it was and all about Crosby Stills Nash and Young, so we bonded even more over that song, “wooden ships on the water, very free and easy, easy, you know the way its suppose to be”, beautiful message!
Come Together by The Beatles is one of the best beats ever made in my opinion, I actually got into them very late, never massively digged them growing up, I liked them but didn’t fully appreciate them until more recently, I first heard that song through the Michael Jackson cover on Moonwalker the movie!
Della’s Won’t Do is so gorgeous it’s like magic, again so honest and loving really, so much emotion, love the way he flipped that beat, if you listen to the whole original song you can hear he liked this one part and the harmonies there, and made a whole song out of that one idea!
Then Chris Isaacs I just had to wack it in! Every one can relate to that song, I like emotional songs, that big word love and how it can make or break us all! You just got to admit its good! Love that guitar mainly, simple but powerful!
‘Shaker Notes’ is out now, order a vinyl copy from Bleep.com.
1. J.J. Cale ‘Crying’
2. The Beatles ‘Come Together’
3. J Dilla ‘Won’t Do’
4. The John Coltrane Quartet ‘Africa’
5. Michael Jackson ‘Human Nature’
6. Crosby, Still & Nash ‘Wooden Ships’
7. Miles Davis ‘In A Silent Way / It’s About Time’
8. Weather Report ‘Nubian Sundance’
9. Bob Marley ‘Three Little Birds’
10. Chris Isaak ‘Wicked Games’
Discover more about Paul White and R&S Records on Inverted Audio.Paul WhiteR&S Records29 September 2014AcousticElectronicExperimental