Posted On 26 May 2017
Paul Nowell’s imaginative new album is “Journey To The World” is a 10-track record with a visionary mix of electro soul, hip-hop, jazz, and sublime melodic pop.
Released on March 7th, this collection boasts an all-star cast of Grammy award-winning personnel, including Tom Coyne (Adele, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Sam Smith), Ryan Gilligan (Kanye West, Cee Lo Green, Busta Rhymes), and Steve Genewick (Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson).
Billed as Paul The Trombonist, the project combines Paul’s expert ability to mix retro sounds and futuristic production with his virtuosic trombone skills. Paul’s story is something of a jazz fantasy, as he was discovered by Duke Ellington’s nephew, Ron Ellington Shy of the Drifters and Coasters fame. Ten-time Grammy winning trumpeter Arturo Sandoval recognized Paul’s talent, and they created a series of online videos that have become a viral sensation and seen by millions.
Learn more about Paul Nowell in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music?
2016 was a very important year for me as it was the time that I spent creating my debut album. I’ve been a side man with my trombone most of my life and this is the first time that I created my own album.
How has 2017 been treating you?
2017 has so far been excellent. This is the year where my debut album was released and actually charted as an Amazon best seller in the first week. That was a surprise for me and was a good feeling. This year, I have also been able to take the material from the album and perform it live. Being able to see how this music connects with people in that setting is a feeling that I have never had before and makes me eager to take the music everywhere I can.
Where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
Today I am at a coffee shop on the Californian coast in the city of Malibu.
Yes actually, that is the reason I come to this particular coffee house is their choice of music. Right now they are playing two of my favorite artists Clifford Brown and J.J. Johnson.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician?
Actually yes, I always wanted to do this but I didn’t know that I wanted to play trombone until 4th grade. I have always loved music from my earliest memories and it just felt like it was something that I was supposed to do.
My first instrument that I took lessons on was the banjo when I was 7 but there was a piano in the house my whole life. I was fascinated by the piano and would always just play and mess around on it. I could do it for hours and never get bored even when I had no clue what I was doing.
Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
My father playing guitar, singing and banjo.
If you weren’t an artist today, what else could you see yourself doing?
I would be producing a lot more. I think I would dedicate my life to producing other artists full time.
I recently read that you were discovered by Duke Ellington’s nephew, Ron Ellington Shy. How exactly did that happen? What was that moment like for you?
I was playing at a jazz club downtown Cleveland Ohio with my group. We were approached by a gentleman in the audience and he was so excited after our performance. Two days later I was at his house working on music. It was a great memory. He shared stories of his career and family.
Let’s talk about your newest album called “Journey To The World.” Where did the inspiration for these songs come from?
I wanted to go on a Journey to as many different worlds as possible. It is a fantasy exploration album. Each tune is a different planet, dimension, alternate reality. Imagine the most magical exploration dream you can have and this is the journey I wanted to capture. Some of the melodies actually came from dreams and I would awake from sleep in middle of night with a tune in my brain and record it on voice memos before falling back asleep. I wanted to maintain the natural acoustic quality of the trombone sound and fuse it together with an electronic world.
What was it like putting this collection together?
It was one of the most fun times I have ever had and I learned quite a lot about writing and production. You also learn a lot about yourself when making an album. Its like a diary of your soul.
Did anything surprise you about the whole process?
Yes, hearing what happens from the rough mix, the final mix and the mastered versions. I was actually so fascinated by it that I took a song from my album and put up a video online to show my audience what the songs sound like at each stage as a comparison.
You worked with a lot of incredible musicians on this album. Can you talk about working with some of them and how those relationships came to be?
I wanted to work with the best sound engineers on the planet for this. One of them came highly recommended by a friend of mine and the friend did the introduction for us. His name is Ryan Gilligan and he is an amazing mix engineer, check out his credits. The other two I found records that I really loved how they sounded and reached out to them and their managers directly. I told them about the project and that I wanted to work with them and they said yes. Steve Genewick has worked with Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. Tom Coyne won album of the year with Adele twice and also with Taylor Swift. He was nominated many other times with the albums that we all love. I really want to take a moment to honor Tom Coyne as he recently passed away. I feel forever grateful for his work and blessed our paths crossed. Many people will miss him and he will go down in history as a legendary mastering engineer.
What songs are you particularly proud of this album?
Its hard for me to say as they all feel like children to me and its hard for a parent to say who a favorite child is to them. A lot of people are telling me that they like the song called “A Very Bright Day”. I took all the original 8 bit 80’s video game sounds and blended them with trombone for that song.
Do you have plans to play a lot this summer?
Yes I have and will continue to perform the material from this record live. I use looping technology, keyboards, DJing and trombone improvisation and fuse them together. A lot of people say that my live show takes them to another world. My website paulthetrombonist.com will always have the updated shows.
Who are some of your very favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music?
Its really interesting because most of the musicians I admire are not really considered famous. They are my friends, my mentors and various other people I have had the honor to meet, hear and or play with in real life. The famous musicians of the past I look up to are Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Louis Armstrong. The reason I choose those names is that they strove for excellence and were the best at what they did and in return they were able to communicate their music to the largest group possible. I want to do this in my life, communicate with as many people possible through the music I create.
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Bruno Mars, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Pharrell, John Williams, Benny Blanco, Skrillex.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music?
That my music can bring people together of all ages and parts of the world. What I love about music is that it brings people together.
What do you hope people take away from your songs?
That the trombone is strong enough to hold its own as a solo voice in music of this time period.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started on this music path?
Listen to as much music as you can. Practice and play out as much music as you can and meet as many people as you can. Find mentors that can help guide you, people you look up to. Study all the music theory you can so you can be in complete control of the music you create.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I am very active on social media and put up weekly videos of my music and daily adventures. Paul The Trombonist on all networks. Would love to connect with you all there. Much love to you all!