(June 2nd, 2011) On Tuesday we had the opportunity to talk to Alex B, aka Paper Diamond, about his music festivals, future plans, and more. This April we covered his performance at the Westcott Theatre in Syracuse, and he performed an incredibly innovative set. This producer’s got some serious talent, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for Paper Diamond. So without further ado, take a second to learn about the artist behind the music.
Sound Fix: Hey Alex, thanks for taking some time to talk with us. The last time we saw you perform was at The Westcott Theatre in Syracuse, that was a wild night and a great show.
Paper Diamond: Yeah that was a really fun night. I had a great time up there.
SF: We remember you told us you had to catch a 5 AM flight to Coachella after the set. Did you catch your flight? And if so, how was the festival?
PD: Actually the flight from Syracuse got delayed because of the crazy weather, and I actually ended up making it there late. It was intense, but it was awesome. I got to rock Coachella, and then fly back to Colorado. The festival was dope, I had a blast. I definitely can’t wait to go back.
SF: So you’re planning to go back next year?
PD: I’m not sure, but I’ll end up there again sooner or later.
SF: Speaking of festivals, which other ones are you hitting up this summer? And which festival are you most stoked for?
PD: Electric Forest is going to be really cool. There are so many, I think I’m doing around fourteen festivals this summer. I’m doing Re-Generation up in Oregon, I’m doing Jam Cruise Ten, The Bounce, I’m doing Summer Camp, Wakarusa, Lightning in a Bottle, I’m doing Starscape, a whole bunch.
SF: We’re covering Starscape this year, what should we expect for your set down in Maryland?
PD: I love Starscape, I’ve actually gotten to play it a few times, and it’s always crazy, and I always end up staying up and seeing everything until the morning. I love playing in Baltimore, it’s really fun. This is actually my third time coming there, but my first time coming as Paper Diamond, so I’m excited to debut my music out there. It’s going to be super dope.
SF: I thought it was interesting that Starscape placed you in the dubstep tent. I wouldn’t necessarily classify all of your music as strictly dubstep. In your own words, how would you characterize your music?
PD: Pretty much I’ve been making whatever I like. So what’s interesting is that the music is heavy enough that I can play with dubstep DJs, but it still translates well to other crowds. You know it’s varied, and still heavy enough, but melodic enough where it’s not limited to just dubstep crowds. It’s really hard to pinpoint but my music is a wide array of styles and BPMs and emotions and melodies. It varies, so you’ll find something different from record to record, but the common theme is that everything is a thought out process. But for me, each album as a whole together translates to one thing.
SF: Starting with Starscape, you’re sharing the stage with Skrillex three of four consecutive times. Are you guys planning to produce some collaborations in the near future?
PD: We haven’t yet. I’m friends with his buddy 12th Planet, and I’ve been talking with him a bunch, but I have yet to talk to Sonny. I’m looking forward to meeting him and I do really like his music, and I think he’s doing some really dope shit, so, it’s gonna be cool to do those shows and see what it’s all about.
SF: What are you producing right now? New album or EP?
PD: Yeah I’m a little bit over half or three fourths done with a new EP, I definitely got a couple more remixes coming out soon. So lots of new music coming out, getting ready for Global Dance Festival in Colorado at Red Rocks. I’m just excited for a summer full of shows, it’s already looking nice in Colorado. I’m also looking forward to New York this upcoming Thursday, always love coming back to the City. I’m pumped to see a couple friends and the rowdy crowd that’s about to ensue at the Highline Ballroom.
SF: That sounds like a fun time, could you tell me a little more about this show?
PD: My friends Break Science will be warming up the crowd, I’ve got some really cool stuff planned for the evening. It’s gonna be a great show.
SF: What’s been your favorite place to perform at thus far? What would you call “home” when it comes to venues?
PD: As far as my favorite venues, I love playing at Red Rocks, I loved playing in Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan. I mean there are so many places, I live to play music, and music is everything that I do, so, you know I’m happy playing wherever I am, but off the top of my head those are my two favorite places.
SF: What about Snowball? Have you found that your strongest fan base resides in Colorado?
PD: Honestly my fanbase is growing. There are a few places, though. I like going to Chicago. Colorado’s definitely crazed right now. I have a store down on Pearl Street, which is the main street in town. So you know, I’ve got all of my friends here kicking it. It’s cool, it’s like we have an outlet for people to hear music and see art and everything. Definitely Colorado is always rowdy. I know New York’s gonna pop. I’m really excited to come up there and kick it.
SF: So you opened up a store last week called Elm and Oak? Could you talk a little about the store?
PD: Yeah man. We are basically an art gallery, a design firm, a record label and a clothing line, so we’re just using all the outlets of our creativity. On top of the music stuff, it’s cool to bring everything together and have a store where we can showcase our design work. We’re also focusing on the web and the idea of branding. We also have a gallery here where we have events. We had Gaslamp Killer on Sunday with Eliot Lipp, and we have stuff planned throughout the whole summer and the fall. And yeah man I’m really looking forward to having this space to you know, show people around here the scene and type of music that we’re interested in.
SF: So you guys have full blown concerts in the store?
PD: Well yeah, it’s wired up for sound in store and we’ve got a full time permanent DJ rig set up, so people can come in and spin in the shop. It’s super nice. We just opened last Thursday, and already a few of the nights have been slamming in here. We’re definitely excited, and if you come to Boulder, Colorado you definitely need to come check this out. There’s always somebody in here, just kickin it with new music and everything.
SF: So who performed for the opening night at Elm and Oak?
PD: We actually had this band Cherub, from Nashville, Tennessee. We had them play, and it just got kind of crazy. Him, Derek from Pretty Lights, Drew and the guys from Big Gigantic were there, and I actually saw Murph from STS9. It was nice. A lot of the Colorado musicians came through. It’s cool to have a place where everyone can come and meet up and chill.
SF: So how did you and Derek meet up? And how did you end up teaming up with Pretty Lights Music?
PD: We met each other back in the day, because he used to play shows with the band that I was playing with previously, before Paper Diamond. So we just met through that, and we kept in touch, and when I was working on this new music for Paper Diamond, I went to his house and was telling him about it, and he said he’d be down to put it out, so we ended up just doin’ it. It’s been awesome he’s super great to work with, and super helpful with everything. So I’ve got nothing but good things to say about that.
SF: How did you choose the name “Paper Diamond”?
PD: Yeah well it’s kind of about something simple and making something complex out of it, like taking paper and folding it into a complex diamond shape. Like with making music, taking nothing and turning it into something, and being creative, and that’s pretty much what it means to me.
SF: What’s your production software of choice? Controller? Mixer?
PD: Right now I actually designed something for the iPad, so I can play my shows wirelessly, so I don’t have to be hunched over, and I can move around and interact with the crowd, but still be in complete control of the music, so I can still improvise during the show. So that’s what I’ve been using on stage, iPads, and in the studio I have a garage of vintage keyboards and everything. Ableton Live’s what I use on stage, as well as in the studio in addition to a couple other work stations. For me it’s about mixing that stuff with analog as well. It’s nice to record and make your own sounds, because when you run your digital sound through certain analog gear, your sound will sound different from somebody else’s sound. It’s like building your own sound through whatever you’re running your music through.
SF: Are you going to release your iPad DJ app to the public?
PD: Yeah, I’m sure as soon as I figure out the next thing I want to be using, I’m just going to put this out.
Thanks, Alex, for taking the time to talk with us and share some words of wisdom with our readers. Make sure to check out Paper Diamond on Twitter.