Pauli the PSM is a multi-faceted artist, creating as a solo musician as well as touring as a drummer for a variety of artists. We caught up about why he started making music to begin with, his ever-evolving style, a memoji music video, and supporting the youth through S.T.E.A.M. programs such as the Badman Space Program.
You’ve been involved in a variety of creative projects.
First and foremost I’m a musician – most recently I’ve played drums on tour with Robyn, Sampha, and Kelsey Lu.
When did you start making music?
I started making music in 2014 as a response to the unlawful murder of Michael Brown. My first single “Give Me a Sign” was a protest song standing in solidarity with the people of Ferguson.
The track was produced by Heavy Mellow and I commissioned artist, Amar Stewart to recreate the iconic image of a Devonte Hart hugging a cop during a protest.
You seem to have a multi-faceted experiential approach to what music is, can you share anything about what that feels like as a creator and what you hope people take away from it?
Music is art. And effective art provokes thought.
I create art to make you feel something. I approach this in a multidimensional way to hook and engage several receptors. If it’s not auditory I wanna get you visually and that in turn will introduce you to my sonic world.
Tell me about making “Big Belly Flow” and working with Virtual Superland
We shot the video with my long-time collaborator and friend Rohan Blair-Mangat. Orsolya Szabo has been somewhat of a muse for years now, she is also my stylist.
VSL totally gets the symbiotic relationship between tech and fashion without it ever feeling forced. Similarly, Rohan never compromises the art or integrity of a project for the sake of conformity. Upon release, this was dubbed the first-ever memoji music video. Boom!!
How would you describe your music style? Any particular influences?
My greatest musical inspiration is Sun Ra. He was prolific, releasing over 100 albums…Anytime I hear any of his music it’s like he’s constantly evolving even after his ascension into space.
My music style is evolving…it’s like a Pokemon…first evolving then powering up. I’m currently Charmeleon…Big Belly Flow + Buss Case are my power up records. Charizard season, soon come!
Tell me about the Badman Space Program.
Christa McAuliffe’s “Space is for Everybody” statement is a huge inspiration and motivational factor for me. The original mission of the Badman Space Program was to create a safe place for black kids to express their love of space and sci-fi.
I now work with schools to get disenfranchised kids more engaged with space via S.T.E.A.M. [programs.]
I’ve also had the honor of presenting to audiences at NASA Kennedy Space Center and California Science Center alongside Astronauts Story Musgrave, Leland Melvin, and most recently public figure Bill Nye.
How do you stay tapped into creativity and that flow?
Watering my plants, Reading, Prayer, Meditation, and exercise all help me to get back on track and in the flow.
Austin Kleon’s books, ‘Show Your Work’ and ‘Keep Going’ have been helping me if I’m ever feeling stale.
Creating also really helps… I always keep my Teenage Engineering OP-1 nearby, funny how you never know when its gonna hit, but boredom and frustration spark creativity for me.
What’s next for you?
I’m touring my NYC club night ‘Back To Life’ (with khalil.livinproof) and we’re in South East Asia at the moment. We’ve just played Tokyo and Seoul on this run and next, we’re playing Hong Kong, Singapore and Osaka.
We’ve also set BTL up as a record label and we’ll be releasing our first vinyl project this summer…watch this space!