Saturday, March 24, 2012
ONE ON ONE WITH SIRPAUL
After listening to SIRPAUL's new album three times in a row so that I could give you guys a fair and balanced review of his excellent new album The Horse, I was very excited to have a chat with him about everything, including our similar taste in music, his celebrity crush, the dream celebrity he would love to open for on tour, his thoughts on the Madonna vs. Gaga fiasco, and overcoming his fear of shooting his album cover naked on a horse.
Kris Avalon: Hey SIRPAUL How Are you?
SIRPAUL: I'm doing great babe...a little exhausted. I've probably only slept about 20 hours this entire month between shooting the album cover, filming the music video for "Body Connection" and getting prepared for the release of the album & live shows that are coming up. It's all very exciting though!!!
KA: Like every other creative artist, you'll get enough sleep when you're dead. So tell me when did you first start singing?
SIRPAUL: I started singing at the most inopportune time in a young man's life - when I was about 12 years old at the beginning of puberty. Everyone was plugging their ears... LOL
KA: I know the feeling. Who are your musical inspirations?
SIRPAUL: I'm definitely influenced by a wide range of recording artists but I'd say it's the more iconic ones that have had the biggest impact on me... Madonna, Prince, George Michael, Cyndi Lauper. I also have been schooled by more organic artists like Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls & Tori Amos. I think they taught me how to release all of my demons through my lyrics.
KA: I knew there was a reason why we get along so well, one reason being that we have the same taste in music, although I'm not big on Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls. So tell me why did you name your album The Horse?
SIRPAUL: Well Love and Horses are two things I've always been drawn to but deathly afraid of. Both are beautiful, intimidating, strong, and intense. Both require patience and when either knocks you down or throws you off you have to get right back up and ride again. I felt like I had finally conquered my fear of falling in love but I still had to face my fear of riding horses so it seemed an appropriate theme for this album.
KA: I had a traumatic experience with a horse when I was a kid in the Cub Scouts. Ever since then I haven't ridden, but I would love to overcome my fears and ride again. How does The Horse differ from your previous album, Music & Me?
SIRPAUL: Well, Music & Me felt like trying to prove to myself that I could bang out a really polished, well-produced pop album. I love the songs and although it was a pivotal project for me, it was lacking the emotional vulnerability I had revealed on previous albums like Dismantle and Switch. My new album The Horse is all about me facing my fears and telling the truth. I learned so much from working with Alex Lauterstein (on our band Simulover's first album) that I felt a bit more free from the confines of having all of the "rules" I usually give myself before I start a project. I really feel like the chord progressions are more sophisticated, the lyrical content on The Horse is definitely revealing to say the least. Overall it just feels much more authentic to me.
KA: Well I can definitely feel the emotion and authenticity on the new album, since Switch, Hardcore Crazy and Human Machine are a few of my favorite tracks on the album. I also feel as an artist you have to not be afraid to break all the rules, since that's when you realize that you are the most creative. What were your inspirations behind the conception of The Horse?
SIRPAUL: I like to have a theme or a concept for each album and on this album I was originally exploring the idea of "Goth Disco"...fun uplifting music contrasted with dark lyrics and subject matter. I was thinking a lot about the similarities between the Salem Witch Trials and the LGBTQ Equal Rights Movement. I also wanted to pay tribute to all of the artists that were "out" or blatantly sexually ambiguous from the Disco era all the way through New Wave and Synth-pop like Sylvester, Erasure, Depeche Mode, Culture Club, and Queen. I was also influenced by some VERY random artists & songs: Van Halen "Jump", The Pointer Sisters, Rod Stewart "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?", The Rolling Stones "Start Me Up" and Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" & "I Feel Love".
KA: Okay now onto the juicy stuff. On your album cover you appear nude on top of a black stallion. What was it like shooting such a revealing photo?
SIRPAUL: Jesus... I'd never been more afraid of anything in my life!! How much more vulnerable can you make yourself than to be naked tied to a giant horse with no saddle??? It was a crazy idea but I had to follow through. I trusted the photographer Michael Young completely though and I knew that although he knows I'm completely insane, he would treat my concept and vision with the utmost care and use his talent to bring it to life. Very good friends of mine, an amazing couple named Marcie & Bijan, offered to let us shoot this at their horse farm upstate near Salt Point, NY. Marcie selected the most beautiful horse she had and she made sure a handler there to make sure it all went smoothly and I didn't die. There's a shot where I'm tied to the horse on my back that references a very famous painting called Mazeppa from the 1800's that depicts a man tied naked to a horse. We wanted to recreate that in our own way but it was extremely dangerous and, at the exact moment I was fastened securely to the horse, she started to get a bit antsy and everyone on set got really scared and they were like "HURRY UP SHE'S GONNA FREAK OUT!!!"...I had to become "The Horse Whisperer" and try to non-verbally communicate to this giant animal that if she just let me get this one shot I would get the FUCK off of her. It was the most frightening, transformative, life-giving moment of my adult life. The photo is too personal for me to share as it captured that exact moment I looked my fear dead in the eye. I chose not include it in the digital booklet.
KA: Wow this sounds like we need to see some outtakes on Vileo since the prudes of Youtube will have the vid snatched harder than one of John travolta's lace front wigs. What kind of music are you currently obsessed with listening to?
SIRPAUL: Baby Alpaca. He's a new friend of mine that I totally adore and his talent is beyond words. (I just remixed his song "Run With You") I'm listening to a lot of Cut Copy, Patrick Wolf, Garçon Garçon, Goldfrapp, Bright Light Bright Light, Junior Boys, Florrie, Robyn & Röyksopp. I have also been fortunate to do some remix work for other artists that I LOVE like The Sound of Arrows & Christopher Dallman. I'm also really excited about a new girl I'm about to start working with named Chantaé Vetrice. I'm going to be producing a bunch of songs for her...she's a star.
KA: I've never heard of Baby Alpaca, but based on your recommendation I will definitely check him out. I'm OBSESSED with Robyn, Garçon Garçon, and Goldfrapp, although we have to wait until 2013 for new music from Alison. Maybe when I get my confidence up a bit we can work on some music together? It's another one of my fears I plan to face this year. If I were to take a look at your iPod, what embarrassing songs might I find?
SIRPAUL: Oh you would find some really shitty pop music from the 80's that somehow I found nostalgic enough to download from iTunes. Honestly? There's so much crap music in my iPod to list!!! I'm a sucker for a catchy pop song but I'm not embarrassed of any music I own other than some of the shitty demos I made when I was 15.
KA: Where would you most like to perform?
SIRPAUL: I want to perform at Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. NYC is my home and I think I'll finally feel like I've made it when I play those two venues. I am dying to perform in Paris again...it was a magical experience but I was too young and ego-driven and I basically wasn't even present in the moment at that time in my life so although I live my life with no regrets, I'd like a re-do of performing in Paris. I'm going to finally fulfill a lifelong dream of performing in Barcelona this September... So excited about that!!!!
KA: Who is the dream celebrity would you most like to open for?
SIRPAUL: Robyn. It is going to happen.
KA: Well shit it better and you know I will be front row. If you weren't singing, what would you be doing?
SIRPAUL: I actually have a really great second career in the beauty industry that I really enjoy and works seamlessly into my music career.
KA: As an artist I also like the fact that you are also a songwriter and producer. Do you play any instruments?
SIRPAUL: I make every part of each song from constructing the beats piece by piece to playing every bass-lines and synth. I also record, mix, master and engineer everything I put out myself. I don't "officially" play any instruments other than a bit of piano/keyboard because I'd rather focus on connecting with the audience when I perform and I'm waaaaaay too much of a perfectionist to ever be responsible for that many elements of what's going on during a performance.
KA: If you could dabble in another genre of music, what would it be?
SIRPAUL: Well I would love to do a completely stripped down album at some point but I feel like I will have to be open to relying on other musicians, producers and engineers in order to make that happen and I'm not ready for that just yet. I've done a couple of acoustic tracks that I'm really happy with but right now I feel like dancing and feeling sexy.
KA: You also have a side project with your good friend DJ Alex Lauterstein called Simulover, which you mentioned briefly. Can we expect to hear more collaborations with you guys in the future?
SIRPAUL: Yes, definitely!! We are busy boys over in Simulover land!!! We just finished remixing our next single which is a cover of the Love and Rockets classic "So Alive" (feat. Cherylyn). We are rehearsing for a very major performance at Capital Pride in DC which will be in front of about a half million people!! We are also going to start working on our next album later on this year but we still have a lot of videos and singles that will come out from our first album "Simulover". The great thing about being an independent artist is that you can do whatever the fuck you want and at your own pace. We are in no rush. Alex is also about to release his first solo single called "Smoking Signals"... it's gorgeous!
KA: Cool cool. Can't wait to hear what you guys have next in store. What genre of music can't you stand to listen to?
SIRPAUL: Well I do like to create hybrids of different genres of music so I can't say there are any that I loathe. I would say if it's not good Hip-Hop I just can't be bothered with Rap. It's too much of the same bullshit about Cristal and ho's from a bunch of formerly unemployed ignorant misogynists who no self-respecting woman would ever even talk to if they didn't have any "kizzash" LOL!!! I miss my old school Hip-Hop boys like De La Soul, Biggie, Wu-Tang and A Tribe Called Quest. They were fuckin dope.
KA: I totally agree. I love old school hip hop, especially from the one's you mentioned as well as Heavy D, MC Lyte, Kris Kross, Kid N' Play and Queen Latifah.You release all your music through your own label Controversial Records. Have you considered going after a major distribution deal or are you feeling like Robyn and its better to be the CEO of your own musical empire?
SIRPAUL: You know it's funny that you ask that question. Are you Miss Cleo??!!! I think I'm finally ready to see what a bigger indie or major label has to offer me. I honestly never even tried to get a record deal or meet with a single A&R person!! I just felt like I needed to do things my way without compromising or being asked to go back in the closet. That's never happening. I'm feeling like so many amazing things are happening for me now because I'm finally ready to receive all of the gifts that I've asked for from the Universe...but I can't do every part of everything associated with my music career by myself anymore. I am completely overwhelmed!! I'm ready to get a record deal and represent our community on a very large scale and push the media's buttons. It's our time and I'm here to be a voice for our movement.
KA: I've been known to tap into people's psyche from time to time, and I also feel it's about time that openly gay singers stop trying to play it safe as to not offend mainstream heterosexuals and scared closet cases and give the gays what straight female artists have been taking for granted. You recently filmed the music video for your single Body Connection with out rapper Loco Ninja. What can we expect to see in the video once it's released?
SIRPAUL: Pure unadulterated sexuality. It's basically about entering the male sexual psyche. I got to play out every man's fantasy in a flesh soaked frenzy of beautiful scantly clad men and women. Sexuality is all about shades of grey and I'm never really interested in telling my own story in my music videos. I'm a completely monogamous very happily married man that's always been fascinated by what gets people off and I like to step into other peoples fantasies probably because it's the only way I can try to understand what makes people tick. The video for "Body Connection" (feat. Loco Ninja) is going to be sooo fucking hot and there is no actual nudity in it! No one even kissed each other... it's all about what you don't see that makes it sexy. The director (and my long time collaborator) Andreas Anastasis specializes in sexy.
KA: Well I can't wait to see it. With Adam Lambert and Sam Sparro putting out new music, do you think the industry has become more accepting of openly gay male singers?
SIRPAUL: Maybe? I don't really care though. It's important to be OUT but nothing you see is real on stage other than the person's energy, be it sexual or not. A good performer creates an illusion and transforms themselves for every project. I am always interested in people that attract both sexes because they are just resonating on a different wavelength altogether. There is always an air of mystery surrounding a real star. The entertainment industry for some reason needs to put everything and everyone in little tiny boxes so that the concept of "celebrity" is easier for the general public to understand. In the end though when you reveal too much you lose your power.
KA: The Queen of Pop Madonna (who I know you love) is set to release her 12th studio album MDNA on Monday. Have you heard any of the tracks yet and what do you think of all the Madonna vs. Gaga drama?
SIRPAUL: I'm one of the biggest Madonna fans in the world but I don't cut her any slack. I like some of the new songs but I haven't heard enough to say how I feel about the new album yet. I do HATE when she gets all "Mother Goose" and puts all these cheesy nursery rhymes in her songs. I haven't heard any Ray of Light quality work from her to date and I don't feel bad saying that I expect a lot more from her than anyone else. She is the most powerful person in the entertainment world and I would love to see her really flex that muscle. She should have the best of the best working with her on every single project because she can. Who cares about Nikki Minaj???? REALLY??? Let's talk again on Tuesday though because I'm known to dislike things on first listen. As for the very tired topic of Madonna vs. Gaga? I like both of them and I find them to be completely different artists with completely unique qualities. Everything in the entertainment industry is derivative and I think it would be foolish for any intelligent person to think any young, new, female pop singer wouldn't be influenced by and aspiring to be Madonna!!???
KA: I totally agree. I've been saying the same thing about Madonna recently. To Me Ray of Light and Confessions were her best albums in the past decade, and to me it feels like she should be putting all her money into working with some of the most creative minds in the music industry, but seems to be more interested in struggling with getting older rather than giving us some fun, forward-thinking dance music. It's like I told a friend of mine when I did a documentary short on him called Confessions of A Madonna Fan (shameless plug lol) When you've supported an artist and put thousands of dollars into buying all their merchandise and seeing them multiple times in concert, you have the right to be critical of them when they aren't living up to their fullest potential. So what hidden talents do you have?
SIRPAUL: I just found out I can cook and in a pinch I can tailor clothes for a show.
KA: What is the best advice you've ever been given?
SIRPAUL: Two quotes I live by: "If you aren't prepared, prepare to fail" and "Test always your strength, for therein lies success"
KA: Do you have a celebrity crush?
SIRPAUL: Ummmm.... Me & my husband talk about this all the time and we both can't settle on one "get out of jail free card". Joe Mangianello (who plays Alcide on True Blood) is really hot though. We met him once at the Logo NewNowNext Awards and we both almost passed out.
KA: OMG I'm jealous! I think Joe Manjello (as I like to call him) is one hot piece of ass and can't wait to see him play a stripper in Magic Mike. I also read recently he went to college with Matt Bomer, who is another sexy piece of man meat. Where do you see yourself as an artist 10 years from now?
SIRPAUL: Running the entire music industry.
KA: Where can we catch you performing cuts from The Horse?
SIRPAUL: I am having a full concert and album release party at Rockbar on Saturday April 14th at 11pm... wanna ride with me?
KA: You know I will most certainly be there. Well it was good talking to you SIRPAUL and thank you for taking the time to have a chat. XXXO
All photos were taken by photographer Michael Young.
- 5 Deadly Venoms
- Another Gay Movie
- Blade Runner
- Boy Culture
- Brokeback Mountain
- Die Hard
- Eating Out
- Enter the Dragon
- First Blood
- Friday the 13th (1980)
- Kill Bill
- Mysterious Skin
- Night of the Living Dead
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Spider Man 2
- The Bourne Trilogy
- The Circuit
- The Crazies (2009)
- The Dark Knight
- The Empire Strikes Back
- The Fluffer
- The Goonies
- The Lost Boys
- The Matrix
- The Monster Squad
- The Road
- The Road Warrior
- The Terminator
- True Lies