With his first EP, Velvet, Austin Paul won the hearts of musical taste-makers from soulful-producer Kastle to groove-guru Pharrell. In the few months since it dropped, he's traveled the nation making musical connections with big brands from Vogue to Porsche, and it's just the beginning.
Still, success can be stressful, and when an artist is a real person, glitz and glamour can be inundating. To settle into his new life, Paul had to do some real soul-searching. Thankfully for us, that struggle comes through as five intimate, sexy and deliciously sinister songs on Disparia, the second EP from his emerging trilogy.
"Disparia is pretty much about this kind of mental disorder / awakening kind of thing, and recently, just a lot of weird stuff has been happening in my personal life," Paul said. "I've been, for the past few days, feeling a lot of tests. Like, 'how am I going to deal with this situation?'"
Last we talked, Paul mentioned how important it was for him to move out of his home and make his own way.
"For the longest time, I suffered with anger problems," he said. "I was really angry at everyone and everything, and when I moved out, I had to figure all my shit out on my own. I realized that I have to just calm down and figure everything out."
He made Velvet, a celebration of life and loosing yourself in the moment. Soon after, he began working on Disparia, following through on his plan to create a more inward record, heavy with dark introspection. Yet he soon found, as the cliché goes, his life began to imitate his art.
"Recently, for some reason, something happened to tip the soul," he said. "I got really passive aggressive and very angry at people, very frustrated. I felt like a lot of people were asking a lot from me, and not a lot of people that I know, but people in general. People are so impolite and incompetent. It just made feel like there's no hope in the world, and then I lost hope in myself. Like, 'what am I making music for? You're so depressing and so weird.'"
It's something a lot of dreamers go through; questioning the world and the ability of one person to make an impact. But often, these fears and doubts are the phantoms of unresolved issues plaguing the heart, and Paul refuses to let his demons win.
"It was like I revealed something that I didn't want to know about myself, and that affected me throughout the EP," he said. "It was such an expression for me that when I really analyzed what I was writing, it kind of went into everything that was going on, and it was too much of a coincidence in a way."
The result is a stark, penetrating, beautiful landscape of personal discovery.
"It's very minimal and very idiocentric," he said. "I wanted it to sound like it's made in the basement of a cathedral."
On the production side, Paul worked with fellow local artists Nuri and Po$htronaut. He said, from beginning to end, they understood what he was going for.
"I would say that it's honestly exactly what I thought it was going to be," he said. "I'm really happy with it. It's nothing crazy energetic or lively, it's really minimal, cinematic. It's like a short film."
After a dark, booming intro, Disparia takes off where Velvet left off. Futuristic r&beats and lots of deep, rich soul ring through on the first tracks. As it evolves, it digs deeper and deeper until it finishes with the still and resonant chords of Paul's piano.
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"It goes from being pretty to kind of grungy in a way," he said. "It sounds happy but, that's really the goal, it's almost to be deceitful ... satirical in a way. It's eerie, like, creepy happy."
What a fabulous way to be, indeed.