Interview: Pauly Paul
LACM: Who are you? What are you? And where you at?
Pauly Paul: My name is Pauly Paul, and I’m originally out of the DMV. I started my rap career here a little over 5 years ago. I worked and worked for years in the studio with different artists from here. To get to a certain level where I felt comfortable where I could go out there and be the person that I wanted to be and follow my dreams.
LACM: So what was the dream that you were chasing at that time?
Pauly Paul: The dream was to be on tour every single night, and to have number 1 singles. Just the dream of every young inspired artist. To have it now. For it to be quick. But, one thing I realize is that nothing that comes quick really ever lasts. It’s the hard grind that means the most.
LACM: Did you go through any proper or industrialized education for that? For instance, some folks go to music engineering school, or did you just jump out there and learn as you went?
Pauly Paul: Honestly, I went to the hood in D.C. and found a producer that had a lab inside of his grandmother’s house. It was a nice lab. I used to record in there and pay my money, and I started realizing that as much as he was my man, when the hour’s up, I can go 15 minutes more, but the hour’s up, so I had to pay more. So it was time for me to invest in my own lab. He took me to the store and showed me what to buy. You gotta find somebody with experience that knows what they’re doing, show you the ropes. Once you got the ropes you can run with what you got.
LACM: For sure, tie up to the horses and get to the track. So where did that chase take you? Well … let me back up a little bit. But you’re path has taken a couple turns and maybe propelled you a little further in one direction than the other. Right now you’re blessing our screens with your presence on a regular show and what not. How was that?
Pauly Paul: I ended up leaving the DMV after my parents died a year apart. I took a huge loss, and basically lost my whole family. At that point I didn’t want to be here anymore. I didn’t want to build, what I wanted to be huge, here anymore. I wanted to go off and do it somewhere else where the memories weren’t so painful. So I quit rapping for at least a year and a half, when I moved out to Florida. I just gave it a break. I just allowed myself to live for a while. Instead of just rapping about everything that I’ve been doing, I said I need to go out and live and take a break. So I can have some new shit to rap about.
LACM: How about that. And then what?
Pauly Paul: Then basically, I got the urge to start rapping again. My cousin, Alex, who’s the main character on my show Siesta Key on MTV. He would have these huge birthday parties where he would ask me to perform. So I started recording again and getting back into it. And from there we got this idea for a TV show. We shot this pilot, it was a week long and shot it all over the city that we lived in. We shopped it to all these different networks, MTV, VH1, E Network. Every single one, one by one, denied it. They said it just wasn’t the time. But, I still believed, and we still hoped, and two years went by and we’re still shopping it around. VH1 agreed to pick it up two years later. We were set to go with them, then MTV, right under that Viacom umbrella, said you know what, we’re gonna take this show from VH1 and put it on our network. So MTV picked up the show and we started filming February 2017, and it just was all the way up from there.
LACM: What a transition from grinding, grinding, grinding, two straight years, getting picked up. What was the show about and how did you play a part?
Pauly Paul: The show is about my cousin Alex and his crazy lifestyle. He lives in a huge mansion, the biggest mansion on the beach in Sarasota, in Siesta Key. He’s a big baller, he’s a ladies man, just one the big ballers in the town. Me being who I am, from the DMV, always being a musician, and my music’s always been popular in Sarasota and Siesta Key. So when the opportunity came calling, Alex knew who to come to. He put this show together and picked the right picks from all around the town, and it became this special group of friends that now we think of each other as family. Friends turn into family, and season 1 turned into season 2.
LACM: Congratulations once again. Historical. So I want to start getting into some of the balance in there. Because balance is where all good things lie. And the bad as well. So how were you in that first season? Or what were you?
Pauly Paul: I was still honestly trying to figure out who I wanted to be in the show. Even though I knew who I was, when you try to do a show for MTV, for a cable network, you can’t be as raunchy as you are in real life. Some of the things I might do in a party, you can’t do on TV. So I had to find a different way to make it entertaining. So I’d come up with things like when we’re drinking, “All the way”, let’s turn this party “All the way”. You hear that all the time, everywhere, but if you turn it into a chant, if you turn it into something you want to be remembered, it works. And it has worked. Everybody all over my town is saying “All the way” and they know where it came from. So this season is full of different things like that. It’s full of love, it’s full of hate. It’s full of regret. It’s full of real life emotion. That’s what makes it so good. People can relate to that. No matter where you’re from you can relate to somebody going through something similar to you.
LACM: For real. If you don’t mind, can we touch on some of that regret. I want to touch on that growth that they may not be hip to just yet? So where does that regret lie?
Pauly Paul: Having an opportunity to perform my music on TV, and not checking out all aspects of everything. Like, I get on stage in the first season and I’m performing my show at the famous beach show in Siesta Key, and the mic goes out during the show. It was so embarrassing, it led to me having an emotional breakdown after, which ended up becoming one of the most memorable moments of the show in the first season. So it’s just something like that that you look back at it and it’s kind of embarrassing to see yourself getting emotional on camera after you’ve had a rap concert that didn’t go the right way. But you see how other people can relate to your hurt. It’s love hate. I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of my struggle. I’m proud of my faults. But sometimes they’re hard to watch.
LACM: Let’s go into the balance then. That was the first run. You’re coming from the build up and the prep work and all the grind through the years. And now you’ve gotten to where you want to be in terms of that short term hustle. Now you’re coming back to it. You have your regrets in your tool box. You have all you’ve learned. Now who are you? And what are you to the show now?
Pauly Paul: I think that this season I’m more relevant than ever. I think that this season there’s more real moments than you got last season. More of the same, but new discoveries. I’m learning new things about myself all the time. There’s going to be times where you see me going through some of the same struggles you saw me go through the first season, but it’s all about how I come back from it.
LACM: That growth.
Pauly Paul: It’s something you’ll have to stay tuned to see. But when you see it, you’ll understand.
LACM: That’s exactly why we chose you to come holler at us. Because of that real life example of growth and applying that. Where is your trajectory with the show now, and what is your 5 or 10 year plan.
Pauly Paul: To me it all goes back to where it started, and that’s music. That was always the plan, and it fully still is. That is it. TV just happened to come first. So, I see this going to a city to city tour, hopefully out of the country tour. I see this going to singles on the billboard. I see it being the same dream that it was when I began.
LACM: You just took a path, learned some more, cut some more, bled some more. That’s a powerful trip you took. Do you have any plans on opening yourself up to taking on some interns, or mentees to show folks what it means to really grind for your goal. To get out there and not really follow the cookie cutter path, but regardless there are ways to reach success.
Pauly Paul: Being on a TV show, especially being a rapper, you’re going to get people that reach out to you all the time, asking you to do this, asking you to do that for them. I’ll tell you this, one thing about me is I still try to keep a level head and remember where I came from and how I felt when I started. I get a lot of youngins that are up and coming in the rap game that ask me for features, and so far I’ve knocked out every single one. As long as I like the song, I knock it out for ‘em. I don’t care how many people they have in their fan base, just to touch that fan base.
LACM: Salute sir. That is artistic at its’ root. So where do you see yourself in 5 to 10?
Pauly Paul: I’d love to keep this show going and do this music thing at the same time. Somebody like Pauly D, he’s one of the hottest DJs in the world right now. I think that he’s right where he wants to be, he’s still shooting a show for MTV and he’s killing it. That’s where I really want to be. That’s goals right there. I’m not going to try to imitate it, I’m just going to try to make it my own and perfect it.
LACM: You do live the example. I'd like to thank you for going through what you went through, and bringing tools back. That's some Buddhist Monk shit right there. Fantastic! I want to go back to something. Do you believe that the trauma from your loss was turned into fossil fuel for your trip, or would you have been doing what you did no matter what happened or where you went?
Pauly Paul: I think that this season you're going to see, probably the realest moment that will ever be on Siesta Key. I don't care, past or present or future. You're going to see something that had to do with me losing my parents. You're going to see a conversation that's as real as it will get. You're going to see that all unhashed and unleashed. When you hold something in and it builds up, on that emotional level, when it finally comes out it's as real as it can be. I think that the world's going to get to see a side of Pauly Paul that they've never seen.
LACM: Man, we look forward to that.
Pauly Paul: I honestly can't say that I'm looking forward to it, because again it's really hard to watch. I think that people are going to appreciate it.