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An Interview with Paper Diamond “Work Harder, Play Harder”

Last Saturday night Paper Diamond played the Crofoot and blew the lid off the stage. Besides bringing a couple of banging openers, like Buku and Gladiator, Paper Diamond created a visual and sonic feast that left the crowd more than satisfied. Before the show I got to spend a few minutes with Paper Diamond talking about the tour, his thoughts on music and his indisputable work ethic.

MCB: I actually interviewed you here around 4 years ago just down the road at a little basement club.
PD: I remember that.
MCB: How have things changed since then?
PD: It’s hard for me to think back like that. It’s all just forward motion for me.
MCB: Your latest ep Rain Drops is coming out soon, right?
PD:  Yes. We’re just working out some last minute label detail stuff. I wanted to put it out this week, but it might be the week after.
With this one it’s interesting, when I started my career as Paper Diamond 4 years ago I was writing all the time. Then I went into others things,  managing bands like Cherub, I had a record label, a clothing brand, and more. But having all this kept me away from writing. So, in 2014 I stepped back from all that and really just focused on writing and travelling. I want to put out as much good music as I can this year.
MCB: How would you say your music has changed since your last release “Levitate”?
PD: It’s just a different process. I like to keep things fresh and experiment, try new things out. I don’t like to re-use the same sounds for more than one song. I’ve been working with singers and rappers, writing for them. I don’t like the sound of my own voice, so I’ll write and tell them what to sing. It’s this whole new creative process I’ve been doing.  I’ve been writing differently and it’s super fun.

MCB: Sitting here with you under the crowd, you can hear the people on the dance floor moving and shaking.
PD: Yeah, we brought our own custom sound system in for the tour with more subs to make it just sound crazy. I want the show to be an experience for people. I’ve been getting back into some trippy stuff lately and I want to give people some of that. I remember being younger, going to shows and getting my mind blown. I want to take people out and give them something different.
MCB:What percentage of a year do you spend touring?
PD: Last year was a lot. And this year right after I finish this part of the tour,  I am going to Europe and we haven’t announced it yet but I am going to Australia and New Zealand after that around May. Then, there are some festivals coming this summer.  Later in the year I want to take some time off to write, shut everything else off in the outside world and create something new.
MCB:  I have been through periods, like the rave scene, where electronic music kind of came and went. But, this latest scene of EDM, that started around five years ago, it’s being incorporated into pop music and seems here to stay…
PD: I think that pop music is always looking for crazy shit to put into it. At least the good stuff does. That’s what people want. Electronic music is so diverse, Detroit’s got a great music background with people like J. Dilla. That is what’s so great about electronic music is anyone can create their own style. I’m a musician at heart. I love EDM, and I love everything else. I just love music. The thing about electronic music is it has the ability to do something that has never been done before. Like with Hendrix, he made a whole new style of music. It wasn’t about surf music anymore. I feel like as technology develops there’s always this new thing, more possibilities of pushing music into new places. I want to figure out what the new, new, brand new shit is.

MCB: You use to manage Cherub and now they are playing here at the Crofoot tomorrow. Is that gratifying for you?
PD: Well my contributions to Cherub were helpful in the beginning but those dudes already had it. It’s like I was in alley oop and they were already driving down the lane, you know what I’m saying? I just jump started it and I learned a lot from the process. I want to do it again someday.
MCB: I don’t think people understand how much work you put into your art…
PD: I’m working the entire time I’m on tour. I wake up and I start working on art and visuals. I mix new songs on speakers so I know what they are going to sound like on stage. It’s an everyday thing of trying to make things, bigger, doper, more fun. I want things to be next level, so when people leave they know they got something special.
MCB: What advice would you give to EDM artists just starting to create music?
PD: Well things are different now, technology is moving so fast. They can catch up very quickly, but I’m a musician, I can play a few different instruments and I can create a mood very quickly with music. So, maybe learn an instrument along with the technology.  Also, keep finding ways to be inspired, being inspired is what it’s all about.

Interview and photos by Mikel O.D. of MPAD Media