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CONVERSATIONS: PAUL CHERRY

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On the green stage at Pitchfork Music Festival, a stage that will welcome Lauryn Hill, Fleet Foxes, Syd & The Internet, Tame Impala, and a host of other renowned musicians over the course of a rainy weekend, Paul Cherry opens the second day of the fest. In between downpours, Paul’s set is illuminated by the midday sun and it’s accompanying warmth.

As Paul and his band bring his 2018 LP, Flavour, to life, it’s hard to feel anything other than contentment. His psychedelic indie-rock is easy to groove to and all the more enjoyable as he vocalizes every musician’s dream on stage. Paul notes that last year he stood in the crowd at the same festival, thinking he would never have the chance to play. Perhaps part of what makes Paul’s set so energetic and his on-stage presence so endearing is the awareness that for Paul, this is a big moment.

Later, at a picnic table under the shade of a few particularly verdant trees, Paul tells me a little bit about how he got here.

“I was in a wedding band for a while, and graduated with a degree in music, but I didn’t even think of myself as a musician then,” Paul says. “Going through the process of making the album that I have now, that was when I decided to commit harder than other people around me, that’s about when I started considering myself a musician.”

In between playing gigs in a wedding band, Paul would find himself with four or five days off in a row. Realizing how unique it was to have so much time to dedicate to his craft, while still being able to support himself financially, Paul began to utilize that time to learn and hone his skills as a writer and producer, getting more musicians involved with his work, and crafting what would become his debut full-length album.

With that time, he also found himself working with Detroit-based musician Anna Burch. Together, they recorded her LP Quit the Curse, which was released on Polyvinyl earlier this year. Working with Burch, Paul notes, helped him to become more competent and comfortable when it came time to record the heavily stylized tracks that would become Flavour.

Looking ahead to his next album, Paul’s finding inspiration in a world of music that feels very different from the easy-listening psychedelic grooves you’ll find on Flavour.

“It’s a lot of house music,” Paul says of his influences. “I’ve been kind of dancing between these two worlds of very happy and very sad. I’m trying to figure out how to pull those two extremes together. I just wanna have really groovy tracks, basically. But I also wanna have really effecting and effective tracks.”

For the time being, these tracks are just demos. But fueled by Haribo gummy bears, Paul will be pushing himself forward as a musician, evolving and changing as he works on his second record.

“I don’t want to stay the same,” Paul says. “Pop psychedelia is what I made, and I want to keep on psychedelia but also make something that’s, you know, next level.”

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