November Feature: Aaron Paul

Cover (400 x 600)
Photo By: Billy Hess

Aaron Paul was the lead singer of the successful internationally renown Pop boy band, WORLDS APART. The group came to the attention of Arista Records, Executive Simon Cowell (American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor) impressed by his incredible pure voice, natural performance skills and fun personality, Simon positioned Aaron as lead vocalist/front man and lead the group to their chart success.

The group had a unprecedented chart-run of over (5) top 30 UK singles including: Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel’, (recently featured on the soundtrack in the huge blockbuster and academy award winning movie “The Queen“), ‘Everlasting Love’, ‘Wonderful World’ (written by Aaron Paul & fellow band member Patric Osbourne), and their biggest hit ‘Could it be I’m Falling in Love’, and many more.

In the summer of 2014, Aaron Paul released his critically-acclaimed chart-topping debut album, “RAW.” The album produced the edgy and in your face club-banger, “PnP (Party N Play) as well as the #1 Pop Dance single and National anthem, “I Don’t Care.” Aaron’s first #1 song as a solo artist ever. “This is a moment that I will never forget,” says Aaron. “I could not believe that a song that I wrote and sung from the heart, would become such a powerful anthem across the board…it still feels amazing.”

For more information about Aaron check out his website at: aaronpaul.squarespace.com

JRK: Can you tell us a bit about your background, where you are from and all that good introductory “stuff?”

AP: I was born in London, UK, but I have been living here in NYC for about half my life now. I’m a dance/pop recording artist. It’s my true purpose. I love to perform and entertain. I’ve been doing this for my whole life. I have many levels to my career and now I’m in my US phase. I am a son, a brother, a human and a good cook. I am currently single. It takes a lot to keep me interested. And, did I mention, I can write/sing a song or two, lol.

JRK: You were discovered by Simon Cowell in London, while doing local open-mic nights, for his new group Worlds Apart. Can you tell us about that and how you felt about being selected to be a member of his new group?

AP: At the time, I was performing at a live music spot called Singers And Voices. I was a staple. The owner of Singers, Kevin Cullen, would often work with labels and place artists like myself into major recording projects. So, with this project, he was asked if he knew any young guys who could sing live and also dance. He instantly referred my name. Simon Cowell came to one of my open-mic nights, saw me perform and said, “Yes, we want him.” At that time, I was very much into American R&B music, so I had this vision of being a more credible solo artist like Bobby Brown. The idea of being in a boy band was not really my cup of tea. But I was no fool to turn down a recording contract with Arista records. I took it and used it as a stepping stone and platform to launch myself. I was young, just 18 years old. But I thought I already knew everything about the music industry, lol. I’d been doing this work professionally since I was 10-years-old. I’m glad to have had the opportunity at such a young age to perform, travel and have an incredible experience. I learned a great deal from Simon Cowell. He is the best at what he does and we had a very respectful business relationship.

JRK: You were quoted in an interview as saying, “The #1 thing I want to do is have fun along the way and do it on my own terms.”  Can you tell us what you didn’t enjoy, despite the band’s immense popularity?

AP: The last time around I didn’t enjoy it. I want to enjoy it this time.  We were extremely popular throughout Europe, but it was a very intense time and situation. You have five young guys together working 24 hours a day and being on the road. And with five opinions and egos, everyone has a voice and thinks they’re right. This would cause some issues. Plus, success, money having hundreds of screaming girls chasing everywhere you go is enough to make anyone’s head swell! I was always very serious about my craft – my voice, songwriting and performing. That’s the part I enjoyed the most and that was enough for me. All the other stuff was bullshit and I was always very focused on the job at hand. I did have fun hanging out with the fans outside the hotels, riding in their cars, etc. I had more fun with them than being with the other band members plus it kept me very grounded. I’m still very close to a lot of our fans. I always made it a priority to engage and interact with my fans. That’s what makes me enjoy what I do.

JRK: After you left the band, “Raw” was your first solo endeavor that you have said pushed the limits. Can you tell us about the solo effort and what “limits” were being pushed?

AP: Well, after a few failed attempts with projects prior to my first album, “Raw,” I was sick of the music industry dictating to me what I should be writing and singing as an artist. Or, following current music trends. I said, if I’m going to do this again, I’m going do whatever I want to do. I like all kinds of music genres and I refuse to be one dimensional. I like to flip it and no one thing will ever be the same. It doesn’t mean I’m not Aaron Paul. It’s just showing and experimenting with other sides of me. So I just wrote about what I wanted to hear and sing. Some of the songs have controversial lyrics and titles that may unnerve some people, but at the end of the day they are still good pop/club/dance songs. “I Don’t Care” was a huge club hit and went to #1 on the dance charts last year.

It’s a fun, in-your-face pop song. And I knew that writing and singing this type of record with its lyric content would exposing a lot about me which I’ve never done before in my music career. I’ve always been very private and I still am. But I’ve also learned not to be afraid. If something feels right in your gut, run with it. If you look at 100 percent of our music legends, they all went with what they felt or did. That’s how they became originators. They stepped out of the box and became our icons.

JRK: What other projects have you done since “Raw?”

AP: I’ve spent the last seven months recording and writing my new album, “Electric Erotic.” Last year was crazy and another very intense time. With the success of the singles from “Raw” and the shows etc., I literally had to shut it down and just record. I had no idea what I was writing, but once I got started, I was on a roll. I found some amazing producers who I love working with including Peter Tanico, Stormby and a new, fresh dance/trance music producer from Canada named DJ Absence. They get me as an artist. We have produced a body of work that I am extremely proud off. We have 15 songs in total that combine all elements of dance/electronic music with today’s pop sounds and my inspiration from some of our great dance music icons of the past to blend it together while still being very Aaron Paul.

JRK: What challenges did you have coming to America after being in a popular band in the UK?

AP: Having to start from scratch. We did not have the kind of commercial success in America that we did in Europe. I thought I was going to have this wonderful career right of the back of Worlds Apart. I went to the labels and they basically laughed at me because I was in a successful boy band. They all said, “you’ve had your shelf life in this industry.” After all that work I had put in with Worlds Apart, what was it all for nothing? And the labels that did show interest wanted to put me in boxes. Just because my skin color is one way, I should sing one type of music genre. Also, when success stops, everyone treats and act very different around you. I remember going back to the UK for a quick visit. I went to a major TV studio where I had performed many times when I was in the group, I knew most of the crew that were working there. Barely anyone even noticed or acknowledge me and the few who did didn’t look me in the eye! That’s the thing about this industry – you’re hot and the next minute you’re not. But you have to be aware of that because, otherwise, you could end up being a mess. I wrote a song on my new album, “Electric Erotic”, called “Number One”. It’s a fun over-the-top pop song, but it explains just that – you’re hot and then you’re not. All my songs have a reflection of a personal situation I’ve been in or have been close too. That’s how I fuel my songs. From real experiences, topics or issues.

JRK: You were not out when in Worlds Apart since its target audience was young girls. Can you tell us about any conflict you had with that? When did you come out?

AP: That’s right. At that time I was still trying accept and navigate who I was for myself. And I used the Worlds Apart situation as a camouflage. I was so deeply buried into what I love doing, and to be able to have the success while doing it was the perfect deflection. I come from a West Indian family and that culture is extremely non-tolerate of alternative lifestyles. So I had to navigate through that also. Music was my cover. As long as everyone saw what I was doing with the music, they wouldn’t look any further. They would just think that I was too focused to even consider any type of sexuality. We had hundreds of girls, and sometimes their mothers, to choose from. I had no interest sexually with them. And that’s not really me anyway to mess with groupies. I knew that we were being marketed to that audience, so I knew that any kind of exposure of my lifestyle would reflect on the group. But I was not very active as much in the community to have ever been exposed in the first place. We did perform in a lot of gay clubs and had a big gay audience. Those performance at gay clubs were fantastic because that audience really got into it and enjoyed our show and not only because we were five boys with pretty faces. I love performing for the LGBTQ audience. It’s a different energy and appreciation. They always want the truth and the real deal. But I also make music for everyone. I want everyone to gain something when they listen to Aaron Paul. We all have life experiences. We all just have a different way of expressing it.

JRK: Your single “I Don’t Care” became a song many in the queer community related to. You have said the song has helped you “really stand out.” What did you mean by that?

AP: I thank god for writing that song every day. Because it was a big leap of faith to release it. I knew I had created something special, but there was also the idea that the whole world would know now. And that thought nearly stopped me to complete writing it. But the chord that struck within me was just too powerful not to do it. I remember having tears in my eyes when I finished it. I was thinking that others would benefit from this record and maybe give them the courage and strength that I didn’t have to accept myself at a young, delicate age. The song really caught on within the LGBTQ community and club scene. Its message applies to everyone: Be who you are and love who you are. The powerful energy I get back from everyone when I perform it is amazing – people from all walks of life! It’s an anthem for living life. It put me on the radar and truly made me stand out here in the USA.

JRK: What advice do you have for young people still in the closet, despite the more accepting and open society we live in now?

AP: We all have to navigate and find our way in this world. No way is the right way. You will know when it’s right for you. There are many factors or consequences to expose yourself freely in some cultures and societies, so I understand and respect those who have not got there yet. It took me many years, and on many levels, to truly embrace and celebrate who I am. Now, I’m at the point where I just don’t care. Others will get there in their own time and terms. We do live in a more tolerate climate now and I can’t wait for the day when we can all say, “I don’t care!” I wrote another anthem song called “Every Life Matters” that is also on my “Electric Erotic” album. Its message talks about the recent cop, African American and LGBTQ killings we have all seen in the last year or two. I wrote the song the morning after the horrific shootings in that Florida nightclub. I was sickened to my core and I had to write this song.

But this song is for everyone! Enough is enough. Every life matters. We should celebrate all lives not take away lives, regardless of our differences, and remember and honor the ones we lost.

JRK: Do you have any parting words you would like to leave with Diversity Rules readers?

AP: I would say to your readers, try to live the life you want to live while, at the same time, respect and value others that may choose to live differently. Everyone is here for a purpose. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m very blessed to have a second chance at doing it here in the US. All of our journeys have challenges. But with respect, hard work and community spirit you can do anything your heart desires.

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2 thoughts on “November Feature: Aaron Paul”

    1. Hi D. Flanigan!

      I would love to chat with you about that possibility. In fact, I think it would be wonderful. Maybe we can shoot for the December issue?

      Please email me using the address on the “Contact” page.

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Jim Koury, Editor/Publisher
      Diversity Rules Magazine

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