Interview With PAPER DIAMOND (Alex B)

paperdiamondcover1Bringing in the New Year is always a big event, deciding on what you are going to do can be even bigger. This year I certainly made the right choice and was able to bring in the New Years at the legendary Roseland Ballroom in New York City with the legendary Paper Diamond.

Paper Diamond, also known by the name Alex B, deserves nothing less than the title exceptional. At hello its easy to grasp Alex’s calm, collected and straight forward demeanor. Electronic music is blossoming and the artists contained within its realm are as diverse as it is large. There are many individuals that I have interacted with in this sphere of music that, and you can’t blame them, treat this life style like a party. Sometimes living the party is a necessary means to bringing the party and selling tickets to those who want to. Alex has his mind elsewhere, he is here for the music, for the art of sound and for the lifestyle of the culture he has helped build. A term bestowed upon me in my studies of Art History at the University of Vermont “Art for arts sake” represented the mentality of the baroque period, a time of exploration in the visual arts that deviated from the ritualized production in the renaissance era, Alex captures that mentality, he is “music for music’s sake”.

STORM: The last time we saw you was during the Altered States tour with Zeds Dead, how was that for you?

PAPER DIAMOND: I pretty much spent the last 7 months on a tour bus, I have been on the road for the majority of the year. I went to Colorado for the first time 2 days ago, I’ve been partly living there and in LA, and thats the first time I have been home in months and months. But I am excited to go out on the next tour which starts January 2nd.

STORM: Paragon was your last release, what have you been working on since then?

PAPER DIAMOND: I have been doing a lot of mixes, also helping other people on projects that they have been working on. I have been writing every day but being pretty selective of what I have been putting out.

STORM: The last mix you put out was excellent, can you tell us a little more about it?

PAPER DIAMOND: Before I was doing Paper Diamond I was producing under Alex B, and releasing a lot of avant-garde hip-hop but haven’t been releasing it.  I have been focusing on releasing a lot of material that I play live, so people can get a taste of what they can expect to hear. In my EPs I do include what you could consider “bangers” or whatever people want to label them, trap music, dubstep whatever. Each release is my take on what is relevant, its something that is multi-genre  and where my musical taste lies at the time, I  draw inspiration from bands and artists that I am interested in. I have been writing a ton and taking my time, towards the end of the year it has been hard to write on the road cause of being road worn. But I am going straight back to LA after New Years until the 20th to work with a few artists on completely new stuff, I just finished a remix and I have a BBC mix for Diplo and friends coming out on the 11th (of January). The last mix that I put up was something I made under Alex B for BrainFeeder its called Brain Food, t’s more of like a throwback I made it in 2009. I am working on a tour video and excited to have LOUDPVCK, Branchez as well as Gent and Jawns on the new tour.

STORM: Branchez was someone who joined you on the Altered States tour, is bringing him on board with you a development from that experience?

Paper Diamond: I really enjoy him, his music is dope, he has some stuff that he hasn’t released that is insane, he has good potential, and I want to surround myself with people that are working really hard at their craft.

Storm: You were in a band at once point, can you tell us a little about that?

Paper Diamond: When I was 19 I was in a band called Pnuma. It was live electronic music and at the time there weren’t too many groups using Ableton in a live setting so we were trying to pioneer doing that. We Hit the festival scene big, 2006 we did 222 shows and since then I have been doing nothing but art, I have opened an art gallery in Boulder, we are working on the next phase of that trying to figure out if the next one is going to be in Denver or LA.

Storm: And you started a clothing label

Paper Diamond: Yeah its a clothing label, a record label, a design firm a brand that really just supports people that make art, it’s called Elm & Oak.

Storm: Why the switch / when the switch from Alex B to Paper Diamond

Paper Diamond: Well basically for me when I was making Alex B stuff I was in a dance music project, I was getting to use all of my dance stuff in a live sitting which I thoroughly enjoyed. When Pnuma started to tour less and I was doing Alex B stuff I never intended for it to form under the name Alex B, it just kind of happend, like Flying Lotus reached out to me and asked me to do something on his label and I was awstruck cause he is someone I look up to asking me to do something for him.  The stuff under Alex B was more downtempo and stuff you couldnt really play live, so then came Paper Diamond something that I could play shows and add another element to my music. Actually having both these realms to work in makes it more freeing for me to release kind of whatever. I have a ton of everything I am not limited to anything, I can make a rap beat, I can work on a film project I am just amassing these folders that I can sort of fill with different styles of music.

Storm: you produce and play on Ableton software, what do you have to say to the critics that would consider a lesser form of DJing.

Paper Diamond: It’s just silly to me, you make music on the computer you aren’t a musician, thats like someone saying I am better than you because I play guitar and you play on a keyboard. I grew up playing music, I play violin, keyboard I learned how to scratch and record when I was 12 on reel to reel tape machines so I think that is just silly, anyone resistant to change well they can just do their own thing and I will keep doing mine.

Storm: its the end of 2013 highlights?

Paper Diamond: Bonaroo was the craziest show of my life, this whole summer has been amazing, everywhere all over Canada where I have never been. Went some few places over seas, its tiring but its a labor of love. In 2014 we have the cold crush tour until March 8th, BBC mix on the 11th of January, new singles new videos, working on stuff in europe.