Since 1991, Paul T has been obsessed with electronic music and dance beats. He started out remixing music on radio when he was in the US. He started getting noticed when he produced two Dick Lee recordings, Singapop and Redo Renew, and then he formed Quadmix, with his brother, Paul G, and long-time collaborator Case. Quadmix wrote the title track for the Singapore film, Army Daze, and, in 1997, released their debut single, Trick Rider. Last month, he released his solo debut, Steppin' Out. Philip Cheah steps out with Paul T. Pictures by fFurious.
After the techno of Quadmix, it's quite a turnaround to hear you composing chillout music. What led to this?
I have always been looking at breaking new ground in the Singapore scene. I did that with Hip To The Hype in 1992 (R&B/rap/dance) and Quadmix in 1998 (Breakbeats) and it was a natural progression that I should be working on something that has not been heard on the local front. I've been absorbed by the jazz vibes for the past six years and had thoughts about a hybrid jazz album. For this debut solo album, I wanted it to reflect my real influences, about my kind of music. Basically I went for the groove and built jazz, funk, DJ elements and dance vibes into it. The album is not a completely chillout album. It builds up on you as you progress with the tracks.
What's the single and what's your favourite track?
It's Dusk. This was the track that got me started and kept me developing the other tracks on the album. It's got a dark jazzy vibe to it. It's simple, not too complicated but it's able to hold your attention. It stands out differently from the rest on the album. I also went to Australia to finish up the music video for it, a Guy-Ritchie kind of action flick.
There are 18 tracks on the album. it seems like you had a lot more tracks than you had space for?
You're right. My original tracklist had only 14 tracks but I've decided to include a couple more tracks the thing is, the music just kept coming up as I went along. As a matter of fact, I've already started working on the follow-up album already.
You've made an effort to involve other local talent Clinton Carnegie and DJ Wiz. Why and how do they stand out musically?
As I've been travelling quite a bit and work on this album took nine months to complete, I had little time to include more local talents. I originally wrote Moving On for a Sony Music artist but decided to use it for myself. I've always loved the jazz guitar sound and its smooth element. So when I was looking for a lead sound, naturally I went for the guitar element. Clinton Carnegie, in my opinion, has been a very underrated jazz musician in town. I've heard his debut album and have been in touch with him. He's a great guy and we recorded the track in one-and-a-half hours.
As for DJ Wiz, we go way back; undoubtedly the best turntablist in Singapore and one of the best in Asia. He was featured on a Quadmix award-winning track, MindTrip. Since then we've talked about collaborating. Including him was a last-minute decision. I didn't like the mix I did for Chocolat Delight and reprogrammed the whole track again. During the process of the programming, I felt it would be cool to include some scratch elements for the new version. So I made the breakdowns and called Wiz. We nailed it in half an hour. His scratch fill-in and solo gave the track a strong street vibe to it.
Tell us more about your new label deal with ToCo Records?
I was approached by a few labels when they heard a couple of my tracks. It was a tough decision but I finally made the choice based on my vibes about the people at ToCo. They were very passionate and sincere about my music. I finally decided on the label as I believe they can give me the attention I'm looking for, not for myself but for my music. My music was showcased in a world dance summit and the immediate response from the UK, France and Latin America was overwhelming. It was then that I felt that I should have a shot at this with a label that would be focused on my music and promote it passionately to the world.
How will Steppin' Out be released, only domestically or internationally as well?
The album was released in Singapore last month, the rest of the world will be early this year. The area that have been slated for release include Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. The initial reception to the album is very positive.
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