Paul White – It’s a journey, it’s an escape

Foto: Valentin Menedetter
His enormous output and his variety of productions have quickly catapulted Paul White into the top league of producers guild. We talked with him about producing beats with and without raps.

Paul White takes a special place amongst the UK beat producers. Style-wise he feels at home in many tempos and genres. Be it Future Beat, classic rap beats or nerdy sample based music. Heavy drums and samples that are often chopped up many times mark his productions. Paul likes to express himself through sounds – instrumental music is his genre. He lately embarked on a new journey – Rapping with Paul White. Working with various rappers he shows, that he is at home in many musical realms. Valentin Menedetter talks to him about producing beats with and without raps.

If you look up Paul White on the Internet you can find a lot of DJ related stuff. Did you actually first start out as a DJ?
Paul White: To be honest – getting way back – I started out with guitar then keyboard, I used to play piano and write for guitar and sing a little bit. I started song writing when I was in secondary school and then I’ve been all over the place. A little bit of a musical journey. I discovered sampling and found out about samplers, synthesizers – then I got into that and I was writing dance music. When I was in my A levels I was doing Trance and Ambient. I was writing 20 minute long pieces. To be honest – before the beats I did actually get into djing, I used play Drum and Bass when I was young and then I really got into that turntablism stuff. Around the same time I started writing beats when I was getting into the turntablism. That did have an impact – I was quite into scratching and stuff but I’ve always been the musician and producer first.

So the turntablism was the reason why you started making beats?
Paul White: I guess I just love music – I can’t rap. But if I could I’d probably try. Instrumental music is just so free, I have to compensate not having vocals. I don’t know why I found that being really enjoyable, I happened to build up textures without vocals. I really had fun and sampled all the music that I love listening to – so I could bring different things together and put out a big soundscape without vocals. It wasn’t really a conscious thing, it was something that I really enjoyed doing.

» It’s a journey, and I like creating journeys.«

Paul White
Do you think you have more freedom if you are only making instrumentals as opposed to making beats for rappers?
Paul White: It’s been quite interesting doing this rap album, because it has been a totally different adjustment – working more with verses and choruses and almost stripping tracks back. In a way it was some kind of a discipline, because otherwise you can be completely free and add in sounds all over the place. I like the not so typical songs, not the ones with the four or eight bar structures. So it was quite a discipline to work with vocals. I wouldn’t say it’s more free but or me – I can just be really expressive through samples – just getting my mood out without vocals in a way and try and hint it through other ways. Trying to get it through that rather than through obvious lyrics. That’s what I enjoy doing – trying to create feelings and moods and little messages; hopefully people will hear the odd little message here and there (laughs).

Why did you decide to make this Rap album?
Paul White: It has always been a dream to work with MCs, ever since I first started. I listened to Hip Hop along with loads of other things – like Rock, Jazz and Soul. Since the start it has been a dream to work with rappers, and singers as well. Luckily through people like Alex over at One Handed and House Shoes, who has been extremely supportive, also Egon over in the States I was able to hook up with all those guys and do this album. It is a dream come true, and hopefully it will get more. I’ve just done some more stuff with Danny Brown, more stuff with Jhest, some more with Tranquil. I want to do everything. I just love music and love doing as many things as I can. I’m trying not to limit myself and just have fun.
What did you want to express through the album?
Paul White: I tried to show different sides of what I do. I do beat tapes every week, and I constantly try to make them different, I try not to fall into any formulas. There is no right or wrong about this. With creative art, everybody does his own thing. I’m just trying to be as diverse as possible and never fall into one thing. This album was meant to be a straight Hip Hop and Rap album, but then I thought I want to show the people little bits and pieces that I do, I managed to throw some in there but still didn’t get to show all the stuff that I do. It’s a journey, and I like creating journeys. To me, music takes me somewhere else – it’s an escape. I want people to go on a journey with it.