-October 6th 2011 Grand Rapids, Michigan @ The Intersection
I am in attendance to talk with Alex Botwin, AKA Paper Diamond. A seasoned musician with Pnuma Trio as well as projects under the name Alex B. Since the beginning of the year he has been playing live shows under the name Paper Diamond. A multilevel electronic project I fell in love with at this years Electric Forest. I got a chance to sit down with him before the nights show (Which was FANTASTIC!!!! Go spend money to see this man live, he kills it. ….well go ahead he is on tour, why are you not driving yet?)
JLH: You have been playing music for awhile now and really got yourself out there with Pnuma Trio as well as your various projects under the title Alex B, how did those bring you to your work now as Paper Diamond?
AB: Well, I went to college for music production then started Pnuma Trio before I even finished. I basically stopped going to school to start my music career and did that for six years. You know, that had taught me a lot at first as I was booking the band and was manager as well. I was out there doing my time, paying dues and touring nonstop going out to all these places like Japan, Australia and Canada. All of this made me have a hard work ethic for music. During this time with Pnuma I was making all of this Alex B stuff on the side. I was doing all the dance stuff and just making beats too, just doing something different and being able to have all of my artistic expressions fulfilled. So some people started taking some interest in that type stuff I put out there and it was like putting out something much more personal to me. So now when Pnuma stopped playing so many shows and we were just not as active, I realized that I still wanted to put on shows. This is when I decided i wanted to work on a new project, just put out what I want to put out. So now we have Paper Diamond and that means to me just taking a piece of paper and turning it into artwork, whether simple or complex.
JLH: This Summer you have been on a tear across the country doing festivals, what is about them that leads you to play so many?
AB: It’s just so crazy, you get to see so many walks of life in different parts of the country. With this festival season I have played 18 shows. I would just fly in and sometimes get to hang for a couple days. This year I got to spend an extra day at Outside Lands, so I got to see some of my favorite bands, like I am really Digging this band Little Dragon right now. I just love playing outdoors, it can really give people the chance to hear you that never would. You know, it really has been the best Summer of my life.
JLH: One of those you played was Electric Forest festival here in West Michigan, how was the experience?
AB: I love that place, all Rothbury’s and everything. It was quite interesting to see all the differences between EF and Rothbury, I cannot wait to go back. It was also really cool how they did up the forest stage.
JLH: How do you like being on the Pretty Lights Music label?
AB: Oh, it’s dope! It is so cool to be around people who are in the same position I am, where they want to give their music away. Here it’s all about the music. Right now I am working on a bunch of new tunes for a EP called Paragon, some new remixes and I have some new videos coming out. We have been filming the entire tour and doing webisodes for it, not just of the shows themselves but what we are doing on a daily, so you can get the whole aspect of touring ( Paper Diamond Turnt It Up Tour Webisode Ep 1 )
JLH: You are also co owner of Elm & Oak, a multimedia design firm out of Colorado, can you tell me more about what you guys have going on?
AB: Basically E&O is a record label, design firm, clothing line and a blog. We also have a boutique in Boulder that includes an art gallery. With the label we are always promoting paper Diamond and Pretty Light’s music, but we also have this band Cherub out of Nashville. They are this electro, indie meets pop type stuff, kind of reminds me of MGMT meets Prince, it’s cool. We also have Two Fresh on there, this Emcee named Qwiz and so much more going down. Now with the design firm we do all kinds of branding and more. I mean, nowadays in the music business it’s cool to just be a part of everything.
JLH: So can you tewll me a bit about who you have with you tonight?
AB: Yeah tonight we have RPM and Sorry For Partying, they are both from Boulder. With this tour i really wanted to showcase some of the great acts from Boulder. We have had different people each week so it has been very cool having that different dynamic each week on the bus.
JLH: If you could work with any musician right now, who would it be?
AB: Yeah, i would love to work with Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon. I would love to make a rap beat for Wiz Khalifa and Lil Wayne. I want to do it all.
JLH: I have lived in Detroit and out West and have seen a huge uprising in electronic music and well as electronic jam music, would you say the rest of the US has followed this trend?
AB: Certainly, i think that electronic music has gotten so big in other scenes and I feel that jam music is moving into that direction.
JLH: You tour and work relentlessly, do you ever get time to unwind and what do you do?
AB: For sure, I went to Mexico recently. I am doing a Halloween show this year in Hawaii, so i am taking a couple extra days off to chill down there. I skateboard on tour. The venues have been letting us skate inside as the venues are usually very flat. We have just been filming and having fun, it’s a labor of love .
JLH: I have read that you are a big fan of Volcano vaporizers, that leads me to ask if you could ever live outside of a pro medical cannabis state?
AB: I have, I use to live in Tennessee. I feel like more and more places are leaning towards it. It is one of the reasons why I live in Colorado, that and the amazing music scene.
JLH: Can you tell me how you go into your shows, like how do you decide what the crowd is going to get?
AB: Recently I have been starting the show where I have a few different options to build off of. I know I am going to start in one of like three or four places, and I just let the crowd kind of push me. I have all of my tracks with me, including all of the Alex B stuff, so I can really just feel it out. I have it where i can go on any Beat Per Minute, so it’s all wide open. It’s funny, lately people have been asking me if I have been changing my direction with my new single. For me it is not about direction, it is just about having something in all BPM’s and directions, so I can do whatever I want.
JLH: What is your favorite Herbie Hancock song?
AB: I have listening to Sly a lot, but I love all of them so that would be a hard one to say.
JLH: How do the music release method for Pretty Lights Music help you?
(All artist music is available for free at http://www.prettylightsmusic.com )
AB: I find it gives me the freedom to just do whatever I want, you know just put out a sample if I want to. It is a super easy way to get music, and that is the goal anyways. You know, i am making so much music and I would just sit on it until this or that would happen. Now I do not have to worry about how much it cost or whatever. I just put it out when i feel good about it.