The Summer of Paul
By Jennifer E. Jones
Paul Wright is back with a new album, Sunrise to Sunset. I caught up with Gotee Records' crowned prince of flip-hop hip-hop for the summer scoop and a few laughs.
Jennifer E. Jones: What goes into choosing the first single?
Paul Wright: This was the easiest process – easier than Fly Away. We just kinda knew after listening to the whole album that [“Take This Life”] was the song that stood out to me. It has a good message; the hook is strong.
Jennifer: What’s the song about?
Paul: My heart is crying out to God saying, “Take This Life”, meaning I give you Lordship. "Take this life / Make it Yours / Make it right." That’s the chorus. Then the verse is just asking for forgiveness: "Forgive me for the words I spoke / Before they ever left my throat / My heart would rather rip out than obey." [It's] giving my heart to God, turning it over to Him.
Jennifer: That’s a hard thing to do. Then you realize all the little areas where you want to do your own thing. Did you find that when writing this song?
Paul: Yeah, singing the song helps. It’s almost like a worship song to me. There’s this feeling I get when I sing it. That desire becomes more my desire to do it while I sing it.
Jennifer: What has the response been from the audience?
Paul: It’s been awesome for that and for “From Sunrise to Sunset”. That’s another really fun song.
Jennifer: How’s that one been connecting with people?
Paul: From “Sunrise to Sunset”? It’s uh… I really wish I had my guitar so I could play it for you. It’s a better participation song for the crowd. It has hooks where they echo. It goes [singing]: “From sunrise to sunset / Help me not forget / All that You’ve done for me”.
Jennifer: Does it ever feel weird that people know these songs that you wrote -- songs that you remember when they were in their baby stages?
Paul: It’s like when a song gets on the radio, and then I play it some place I’ve never played it before. People show up, and I think, How do you know these lyrics? It’s really cool.
Jennifer: tobyMac paid you one of the highest compliments I’ve ever heard. He said that you play the kind of music that he would do had he done it his way. How did that feel?
Paul: It feels great. He’s a big encouragement, especially when I first got signed. He communicated to me that if he had gone back that he’d just do the acoustic guitar and have a DJ. I think the music that I like, he likes to do. He enjoys the simple organic structure of my music.
Jennifer: How have things changed from Fly Away to Sunrise to Sunset?
Paul: I think that this record is an honest look at my life. It’s more singing than rapping. It’s more with the guitar but it’s also got the drums and bass. I think it’s a more mature record. It’s not quite as tongue-in-cheek as the first one but there are fun songs on there.
Jennifer: Like the flip-flop song.
Paul: Yeah. I sing a song about Mexican food. “Saturday Night” is a fun disco track.
Jennifer: You like disco?
Paul: Not really. I don’t know why I put it on there [laughs]. It’s just for fun -- something to dance to.
Jennifer: Let’s go back to the Mexican food.
Paul: Ah! I love Mexican food. So I wrote a song about it. Just encouraging people to eat Mexican food.
Jennifer: You’re writing all the songs on here. Do you have any rituals for songwriting?
Paul: I like getting somewhere quiet with my acoustic guitar and just start jamming on it. Then if I’m going through something or reading something, those things kinda pop up in my head and in my heart. So I just need a guitar, quiet place, some kind of recorder… like that one [pointing to mine]. Can I have that?
Jennifer: No [laughs].
Paul: [laughs] Okay.
Jennifer: Is finding a quiet place hard to do on tour?
Paul: It is very challenging on the road but it’s cool because you can test out your stuff live. See how it works. I can tweak it, fine tune it, and maybe not even put it on the record.
Jennifer: Has it been your experience that some cities are really feeling you and some aren’t?
Paul: Yeah, especially with my style of music. Those people that do like it are stoked on it – just really into it. The West Coast is really good to me: San Diego, Albuquerque, Hawaii, Oregon…
Jennifer: You got to go to Hawaii?
Paul: Yeah, I’ll go sacrifice [laughs].
Jennifer: You have such a hard life.
Paul: I just go to minister on the beach [smile].
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