Still just as flamboyant as ever and wearing his heart firmly on his sleeve, what you see with Paul is what you get, using his piano and lyrics as a diary to his life, and laying himself bare to the masses straight from the footlights. And just like there is only one of everyone else in the world, Paul says it as it is, both vocally and visually with a strong message of This Is Me.
From the get go, his first two albums said a lot about him as a person, with the lyrical content set out like an autobiography, speaking of love, breakdown in relationships, gender identity issues and much more.
The first album, The Last Green Bottle displayed a very stripped back acoustic style made from guitar, piano and strings.
His second album Looking Glass, was Paul’s pop star moment, displaying a vast array of electronic beats, synths and eighties inspired hooks. His more recent work goes down the route of storytelling, and although you will find a lot of Paul within the mix, his writing leans more as an observationalist.
But it wasn’t until Paul turned 17, that his creativity took a more serious direction, and one step further in creating his very own unique identity that would later be a turning point in his career to date.
And so, at 17, Paul formed a trio called Hessian Drape with his brother on guitar and friend Tigger on backing vocals and tenor recorder. This resulted in performances in pubs and beer festivals all over Brighton covering songs by Jefferson Airplane, Portishead and All About Eve to name but a few. Following this, Paul joined an originals band named Porcelain as the lead vocalist, but after not hitting the stage as much as the studio and rehearsals, what slowly unfolded was an incredible learning curve for Paul, taking his microphone technique to a new level of perfection and becoming highly proficient in the studio environment.
By the time he was 19, fully competent and confident in what he was doing, Paul left the band, and the country for that matter, for nothing more than a break from it all, to regroup and go for and new adventure, moving to Sydney, Australia for a year. On his return a full 12 months later, Paul formed his own band performing his very own material, and soon built up a great following. Sadly, as is always the case in any solo artist’s career, the band dissolved just short of recording their debut album. Sometimes in life, things happen for a reason, with your journey to a certain point in time, meant to be. And so with the very same passion to succeed, the decision was made to take a leap of faith, and go it alone.
Since that time Paul has gone on to open for Nick Harper, Jarvis Cocker, Kate Walsh, Kyla La Grange and Texas in front of 10,000 people, touring England, the UK, Ireland, USA and played shows across Europe.
“That’s an interesting question. When I was starting out, the driving force was very much to be a huge success, and at the time that for me meant being famous, on the cover of music magazines, awards and the like. That is definitely not what drives me anymore, the industry is completely unrecognisable now to what it was when I was a young kid dreaming of being a pop star, and actually the idea of being famous doesn’t appeal to me at all now. What keeps me going now is that I just can’t stop, I need to create! Nothing gives me more satisfaction than working on a musical project, making albums, performing live. It’s never crossed my mind to call it a day, I don’t really mind if no one listens, I just have to do it for me.”
So I went on to ask him who he admires the most in the industry, he replied;
“I remember watching a video of Portishead live at the Roseland Ballroom in New York and being transfixed by Beth Gibbons performance. She just stood there wearing a pair of jeans and a black jumper and was leaning awkwardly over the mic stand with her eyes squeezed shut and a cigarette in her hand, looking like she’d just popped outside to put the recycling out and the most spellbinding sound was coming out of her mouth, it was mesmerising. I loved how her ‘non-performance’ style was an incredible performance! Similarly with contemporary folk artist Aldous Harding, she just stands there on the stage wild eyed, staring everyone out whilst she’s singing angelically and creating an uncomfortable vibe that is completely unique and addictive. Whilst I find these different styles of delivery totally captivating, I can’t say for sure who or what has influenced my performance style. I’m pretty much completely lost in the music when I’m performing and I’m not even really sure what I’m doing physically.”
I followed this up by asking about his songwriting process and how he would overcome any creative blocks, he explained;
“It differs from song to song really, I don’t have a set process. I generally write lyrics and music separately and then join them together. I pretty much always write all my music on the piano, but I have written a few songs on ukulele lately and also there’s been a song or two which were written on my iPad. That’s been a cool experience as there are so many possibilities and sounds you can play with. Concubine from my new record was written entirely on Garageband.
As for a block in creativity, I go through periods when I‘m really inspired and am writing constantly then it just flows. I can have huge periods of time where I don’t write anything. This album is my first release in 7 years, so that should give you an idea of how long it can take me to write a song! During that time, I wrote and directed a Musical Cabaret Show called Epicene which I performed around arts and LGBTQ festivals and events, so it wasn’t a complete writer’s block but I hadn’t written any original music for a long time.”
“Oh for sure, I’m very much me on stage. I usually have a glass of wine up there with me and I’m pretty relaxed and just talking to the crowd about whatever pops in my head. It’s usually pretty camp and there’s a lot of laughs.”
With that said, I asked what he enjoys most about being a performer, he replied;
“I love everything about it! Dressing up, nervously waiting to go on, chatting to the crowd between songs, closing my eyes and getting lost in the music, having someone come up after and saying how your music moved them or made them feel a certain way. It’s all a joy and a blessing. All except waiting around for sound checks, that’s a bummer.”
Finally, I asked Paul what he has learnt about himself as a performer on his journey so far, and if there was anything he wished he had known before starting a career in music, he told me;
“I’ve learnt to have confidence in myself as a performer over the years. When I was starting out there was always that fear of looking stupid, I had a bit of a wall up but that wall has totally been knocked down after years of being on stage. I also love interacting with audiences now but that took some time. When I was in bands I always left the talking to other band members but now it’s something I really enjoy, to make that connection with the crowd. As for being prepared, I wish I’d known that services like iTunes and Spotify were going to be unleashed and there would no longer be any money to be made from music! Haha! Not that it would have stopped me, like I said before, I have to do this.”
“As well as releasing my solo work, I’m also in an acoustic duo called Under The Ivy and we’re currently in the studio working on our debut album, you can check us out by clicking HERE. I’ve also written my fourth solo album, which I’m going to start working on later this year and as well as the music, I’m also writing my first novel. Another thing I’d love readers to know is that I have set up a page at The Floor which is a digital platform to connect artists with their supporters so if you’d like to support me in exchange for regular behind the scenes content, exclusives, free tickets and loads of other stuff you can sign up by clicking HERE
So why not clear a space in your collection and give Paul Diello a try for 2021.
© Stargazer Music Magazine 2020
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