We recently had the privilege of interviewing indie pop/CCM /pop-rock/worship artist Paul Colman via email as he celebrates the release of his brand new EP Recalculating which dropped this past week. We discussed her new album, and what Paul longs for listeners to hear and obtain when enjoying the collection of 5 new tracks and 3 bonus songs. Check out the interview below, and be sure to check out the new EP in stores now!
- First of all, congratulations on your new EP “Recalculating EP 1” releasing a week or so ago- it has definitely been a long time coming, 3 years in fact since 2012’s From The Salt land To The River! What has God taught you throughout these last few years, and what has been the one thing that He has taught you during the season between albums?
“Saltland” was a musical expression of leaving the desert of self-reliance, control, fear and shame and running to the river and planting my tree there. It has some melancholy and it was not important to have a particular sound, but rather to let each song be its own sonic identity. “Recalculating” is a collection of songs that all have an injection of hope and have more of a sonic cohesion. There is a time to mourn and a time to celebrate. “Recalculating” is more of an idea than it is a record. It’s all about a fresh set of co-ordinates and the hope that they bring moving forward.
- This album is more of a step back to your acoustic/rock roots, and reminds me musically of PC3’s Serious Fun and One, with plenty of synth incorporated in a few tracks as well- what would you say has been the most fun thing to explore on Recalculating musically? Is there any musical style you haven’t delved into yet that you may in the future (like rap or country for example…)?
I had very little money to put into “Recalculating” and therefore did most of it alone in my studio. This is one of the reasons it took so long. On this record I had to learn to engineer myself. It also takes me a long time to find a guitar, piano and bass part that is worthy of keeping. But the process was wonderful although at times arduous. I’m a pop writer and therefore I’ll usually always write and produce in that vein.
- Having used Indiegogo as a crowd funding platform once for the successful and popular previous album From The Saltland To The River, which is my favourite solo album of yours; how did the idea of funding this album again via fans arise (even after you had to go through 2 indiegogo campaigns to see this EP, and I’m guessing subsequent EP’s and albums, to completion and fruition)?
I have felt a constant pressure to deliver to the people who helped finance this record. I’ve felt the burden of not letting them down. I hated how long it took but in the end there was no other way. As I mentioned, there was not much money to put towards hiring many other people and in the end I borrowed money to finish the project. I’m extremely thankful that people hung in there with me.
- Having previously been a part of the Newsboys (guitarist), the lead singer of the Paul Colman Trio, as well as a solo artist; how has these three different roles shaped you to be the person you are today, and made you grow in your relationship with Jesus? What has stayed the same musically, thematically and lyrically throughout these three roles, and what has changed?
Yes, I’ve worn a few hats over the years. Each of these seasons have had their fun and tough aspects. My gift has always been a long way ahead of my character. Over the last 5-10 years, I’ve addressed this issue with increasing passion. I actually joined the newsboys not to further my career, but rather to take a step back from being in charge. Joining a band with a private jet may seem a strange way to do that, but I wasn’t the singer, the owner, the main guy at anything. I enjoyed the experience of just being one of the guys. It was tough at times as everything else I’ve done I’ve been in charge. But it was what I needed and wanted. All those guys were, and are, very special friends who taught me a great deal. It was strange for a while returning to using my own creative voice after leaving the band as when I was there I gave myself completely to the group. In the end, I’m not turned on by music. I’m more into who it leads me to.
- Having been signed as a band on Essential Records, as a solo artist on Inpop Records, and also releasing this album and others independently; what has been the benefits and challenges of both being on a label as well as being an unsigned artist? What has God shown you about Himself and yourself through both these experiences?
The benefit of being with a label is the exposure. Without the skilled and dedicated people who worked in these labels, I wouldn’t have the audience I have today. So I’m thankful for them very much.
One blessing of being independent is that I can choose what to sing about without compromise.
I’ve never been attracted to lyrics that explain everything. I love a good degree of ambiguity. For a while I tried to please the CCM markets desire for absolute clarity and it’s just not me. I like to write in a way that followers of Jesus understand but that those who do not follow him can still enjoy without being beaten over the head with the message.
- The lead single on this EP is the title track, and is a heartfelt and emotional admission that sometimes we don’t get everything right, and sometimes we go off track, either intentionally or otherwise, and subsequently, we need to rely on God to help us when we’re in a bind. But to me, the song also says that sometimes we need to shift our priorities, shift our way of thinking, our goals and dreams, so that Jesus can reveal to us how He is moving in our lives. What does the single mean to you personally, and what do you hope listeners will gain from hearing the first single?
You see that even though the song doesn’t mention God or faith at all, that’s what you’ve read into it. I like that. I like that this is what you’ve “assumed” I mean. And you’re right. It is. But I also appreciate fact that other people will not make that jump. They will see it as a song of hope and encouragement and apply it to their own belief paradigm. Therefore it opens doors.
- You’ve worked with many songwriters, artists and well respected musicians on this album- Paul Mabury, Mia Fieldes, Adam Lester, Claas P Jambor and John Ellis to name a few. Are there any artists/writers/producers you would like to work with in the future? Who did you admire and look up to in your earlier years?
I don’t really desire to work with any other producers as I like doing that work myself. But all the people you mentioned get a big say in how it sounds. They have all contribute greatly in the process.
- Which song, encompassing both this album and From The Saltland To The River, has made the most impact to your personally and to listeners? If there is one thing that your music has been ministering to yourself over the years, what has it been?
Well I don’t really listen to my own record much after they are done. By then I’m pretty sick of them 😀. But there are songs that people tell me or message be about that have been important to them. This always a lovely surprise to me. I don’t ever think that my music is even remotely close to being in the league of the artists I personally listen to so when someone is touched by a song I have released, it is nice.
- What has been the overall highlight of the whole process of making the new album? Were there any difficult songs to write, sing or even record, either because they were based on personal experiences of yourself or others? What has God used to speak to you more- the songs that were easiest to write or the hardest?
Maybe the most difficult thing was staying on task. There was no one there but me 90% of the time. It’s easy to waste time.
The theme of the album is playing out in my life every day. The songs come from my own experience. My own recalculation. This has been painful and joyful.
- Has there ever been a song that you have sung in concerts that you didn’t think would have the impact that it currently does? Or has there been a song where you thought should’ve had the impact that it currently doesn’t? What has God shown you through both/either circumstance?
I didn’t realize that “the one thing” was a great song when it first came out 10 years ago. After it won awards I thought I better add it to my shows. Now it’s become my most popular and requested tune. It has been a song I’ve chased around the world for a decade because what it says I have had to grow into in faith.
Some of the songs that have had the most impact on me from recalculating, have not been released yet. Keep an ear out for “when I look back”, “the second time around” and “dirty little friend”.
- What is next for Paul Colman in 2015/16? What do you hope God will convey, to yourself and others, as you are embarking on the “St Paul and Santa Claas” tour of Germany?
The performances are merely a catalyst to meet people and engage with them. That my main work. So I am seeking opportunities to share my story and well as pay my bills in the process.
- Other than Recalculating, your own album, has there been an album that released in 2015 that has made an impact in your walk with God this far? Is there any new album (that hasn’t released yet) that you are excited to listen to in the near future?
U2’s album, “innocence and experience” has been a real encouragement to me. Claas P Jambor’s album “radiate” has also been great for me. “Daylight” by Adam Lester I’ve also loved listening to.
- Who do you look up to in the music industry, either as a spiritual mentor, or someone you ask advice from? If anyone reading this interview is wanting to move into the music industry, what would you say to them as advice?
U2 are always my heroes.
My advice for anyone? I’m not really sure actually. Apart from independently I’ve only ever been involved directly with music industry side of things in Christian music. I don’t have any real advice other than to say that no matter what part of the industry you are in; songs lead the way. If you have great songs, you always have a career.
I love Jesus and I like money and music. When they are put together in an industry I don’t feel at home. But that’s just me.
- For anyone who is reading this interview and is feeling discouraged or down, either because of something in their life currently or something spoken over them, what can you say to them?
God is for you. He loves you. No matter who you are and what you’ve done, He can always put you back on track. Seek Him with all your heart and He will make Himself known to you. If it was easy, everyone would know Him. He’s not religious. He’s not a Christian. He’s a friend of sinners. For that I am most grateful. For I am a broken sinner.
- You have been in the music industry for a few years. What keeps you grounded and places things in perspective as you travel and create music? Is there any song, or Bible verse, or even famous quote that reminds you about why you do what you do and the motivation behind it all?
I’m very fortunate to have great friends. Friends who will stick by me and call me out lovingly. You have to want these friendships. I talked and sang for years about how important they were but it was just words. These days, I find it is these relationships where God speaks to me he most.
- What do you do in your downtime- any music that is on your iTunes playlist currently? Any TV shows you are currently binge-watching?
Golf is my favorite down-time activity. There are some shows I like. I really love “Survivor” after all these years. I love the interplay of human nature. There are some other shows I like but wisdom tells me to not mention them 😉
- Any parting words, encouragements or anything else you want to share to listeners of your music that you haven’t discussed in this interview yet?
The next few years I am hoping to be employed to come and share my story of which playing some songs is a part of the expression but not the main focus. If you wish to have me come then email firstname.lastname@example.org