Though you may not have heard of PAULi, you are most certainly familiar with some of his work. The multitalented musician has a resume that would set most established artists afire with envy. He has played drums for Damon Albarn's Gorillaz Soundsystem. He has served as the creative director for both FKA twigs and Jamie xx. And now, he has arrived on the scene as an artist in his own right.
"Believe Me" is the first track released from his new EP The Idea of Tomorrow, a work that is hauntingly intimate collection of futurist pop. In addition to his musical skills, PAULi has an innate grasp of visual language, turning the EP into a short film of which "Believe in Me" serves as the third act. It was directed by Rohan Blair-Mangat, and it is available exclusively on next-gen social media platform Vero. This is its world premiere, with the full short film to follow soon.
We chatted with PAULi about the creation of the video, in addition to his work with some of his notable colleagues and the bliss of strawberry Haagen Dazs.
Tell us a little about the inspirations behind these visuals, what were some of the concepts running through your head?
"Believe in Me," is Act III from The Idea of Tomorrow, my visual EP, directed by Rohan Blair-Mangat. The visual is an extended metaphor of my existence in New York. Rohan describes TIOT as "an afrofuturist fairytale." It’s a real joy working with Rohan - he’s a visionary. We frequently discuss concepts and ideas. He’s like a genius big brother that I've professionally grown up with and I'm thankful that he has always believed in me.
What is something you feel like you learned or achieved for the first time with this project?
I learned how to play piano! I had about 2 months from delivering my debut record in November until playing my first show in January to learn how to play all my songs on keys. Guitar is next on my list!
What is something that you would say was a source of inspiration during this project?
My grandparents. Although they're no longer with us in the physical. They are still a huge inspiration to me. They made a trip to England from Jamaica to start a new life in the 1950s. They were real dreamers and trail blazers. Their story continually inspires and motivates me. Especially as an immigrant now pursuing my dreams in an alien land.
Can you tell us a little about your work with FKA twigs and Jamie xx? What do you think is something you learned from them? Something you taught them?
I learned how to facilitate and serve. As a ‘Music Director’, it's often thought that much of the role is to be at the front calling the shots, however much of my work was leading from behind the scenes, getting to the studio first to set up; and leaving last after critiquing a live performance. Both twigs and Jamie have excellent teams and they work really smartly. I learned that anyone can work hard, but working smart is where you win at life. I'm not sure I taught them anything- but I'd just like to believe I had the propensity to bring out the best in them and their artistry as they mutually did with me.
What keeps your creative juices flowing?
Living in Brooklyn, there's always something stimulating just outside the door. Any time I leave the house (which doesn't happen often) I'm inspired by the interactions I have with the people I meet. NY is a great place for creative inspiration, there are so many museums. Last year I became a member of MOMA, it’s a great place to indulge in art. My favourite artists are Dalí, Pollock and Basquiat.
After a hard day, what’s the best way to unwind?
Burn some Palo Santo, 2 scoops of strawberry Haagen Dazs, pour a glass of Mount Gay rum and soak in a bath of Epsom salts. Bliss.
For more of our track premieres, check out the US A.M. SNiPER right here.