An Interview with MARCUS PAUL JAMES All About His Forthcoming EP ‘Paper Hearts’ and More!
Posted On 07 Jun 2017
Whether it is singing on Broadway, at a Sofar Sounds show, on the stage of Rockwood Music Hall, or Sunday in church, Marcus Paul James uses music to inspire and transform his audiences across the globe.
Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Marcus was baptized in music from the moment he could stand in the choir loft. James’ new single “Paper Hearts” is an epic melding of personal story, rich production, and of course Marcus’ soul-drenched voice. R&B, Pop, and Singer-Songwriter influences flow into each other to create a blend reminiscent of John Legend, Miguel, and One Republic.
Prior to this latest release, MPJ has enjoyed European radio play and Electronic Chart success with his debut 2009 EP Electrik Love, produced by jazz prodigy Akira Shelton. In 2010, MPJ held the 1st and 3rd spots on UK Soul charts for five consecutive weeks, with singles “Wonderful Love” and “Right Now”. Marcus has performed in multiple Broadway plays including Rent, In The Heights and most recently in Motown The Musical.
Marcus Paul James will be celebrating the release of his full EP Paper Hearts on June 19th at the Dream Hotel midtown PHD Terrace.
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Learn more about Marcus Paul James in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
Actually at the moment taking a break from preparing for a gig tonight. Have to sing a lot of pop tunes so just now was playing “Give Me Everything “ by Ne-Yo and Pitbull
How is 2017 treating you so far? Did you approach the start of this year any differently then you did last year?
This year has been moving!! I started it knowing that it would get crazy pretty fast, but never ever really knew how far “crazy” can go, and I have been surprised lol. Last year was a year of getting all the pieces together on a lot of fronts, and I was traveling a lot. This year has been about putting to use all those things I’ve gathered.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your first musical memory? Could you see yourself doing anything else today? If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
Growing up I didn’t really know being a musician was a thing. I grew up in church and was always surrounded by music, so it was just a part of the world to me as a child. It wasn’t until like senior year of high school that I realized it was a thing you could do for a living. As a kid, I always craved those amazing moments I saw during great performances, but more in a “wouldn’t that be cool” kind of way. Now, performing is my life and I really can’t see myself doing anything else that is not attached to some aspect of it.
If I wasn’t a musician, I would probably be a party planner/event manger, or a club restaurant owner. I love creating experiences and having people enjoy themselves. I also LOVE food and cooking.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming EP, “Paper Hearts.” What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the process at all?
Putting Paper Hearts together has been a wonderful and tough journey, as life continues to throw obstacles in the way. However, hurdling all of those obstacles make victory taste even sweeter. The actual songs were easy to write, and they all came organically throughout the year. I didn’t necessarily have to sit and crank out any of these tunes. What surprised me about this process was how brave one has to be to move forward with their ideas, and collaborate with producers to bring a vision to life. I guess I wasn’t fully ready to be as honest and exposed in the creation process. But that’s what makes me even more proud of this EP, and all those who get to spend time with the real crazy Marcus lol.
What was the inspiration for your lead single, “Romancipation Day”?
It’s funny the feedback from this song has been overwhelmingly amazing, and everyone has their own take on what it means to them. Which I guess is the reason I write – so that people can share in the experience. For me, this song is about the kind of unconnected relationship some people seem to build, inspired by one that I was in. It is a celebration for those who want the best of love, but will not sacrifice anything for it. Let’s cheers to them.
I’m curious to know how your time singing on Broadway has helped you be a better musician and create this EP of yours?
Broadway is the Olympics of performing, especially musicals. You learn very quickly what it is you can and can’t do, and learn to build up a work ethic that is very rare on this Earth. Also being in Broadway shows, and loving theater in general, makes you appreciate the art of telling stories. That’s something as a writer I will never escape, I need to tell the story.
Do you have plans to play live a lot this summer in support of your EP?
Yes, absolutely!! I so excited to share this music and have fun with my band. You can keep up to date with where I will be playing live at www.MarcusPaulJames.com or signup to my mailing list to hear about it first.
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I feel like a music sponge sometimes because I get inspired by so many artists: John Legend, John Mayer, Frank Ocean, Aloe Blacc, etc.. I would love to work with any of them, and also maybe Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Coldplay and Marc Broussard.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
I actually want people to just take my music, digest it, connect to it and throw it back into the world. The biggest complement I could get is someone feeling or knowing exactly what I am singing about. That connection to me is priceless. I hope people find comfort, joy, soothing, bewilderment, validation and more in whatever MPJ tune they hear, and then come back for more.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I guess, just thank you for reading and listening. And I hope you have as much fun with the EP as I did making it. Stay tuned for much more. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @marcuspauljames