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Pauli ‘The PSM’ Speaks On Using His Music To Incite Healing

New Wave speaks with London and LA based polymath about his recent creative endeavours and creating a safe space for healing in the black community.

Photographer: Natalia Parsonson

Stylist: Evan Betts

“I feel a weight of responsibility to ensure the women in my life feel safe. I dedicated this project to all the Black womxn in my life."

In the earlier weeks of the year we caught up with Pauli ‘The PSM’ through email where he talked us through his journey and some of the projects he has worked on through his career. He tracks back to his earliest experience with music, describing his two year old self being heavily influenced by MC Hammer’s ‘Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em’ movie: “there was something fascinating about watching a hip hop superhero come to the hood, beat up bad guys, go to church and get all the girls in the club. He was limitless. I wanted to be Hammer.” The London based creative is no stranger to the scene; before stepping into the truest artistic form that he is in today, from 2006 to 2012 Pauli was balancing his studies through college and university with consistent touring as a drummer with artists like Gorillaz and Sampha. Becoming renowned for his craft after nearly a decade in the game, he decided to take a brief hiatus and move to Paris for some time. During this time he was able to take a step back from distractions and fully submerge himself into the art resulting in a tenfold return to the scene. He landed the role as Music Director to avant-garde pop star FKA Twigs and Jamie xx where he continuously learnt to “never compromise on a vision… There have been a plethora of memorable experiences where I was able to enforce this.” One being whilst working alongside Jamie xx where he hired “the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir to sing backing vocals with him on Seth Myers alongside an all-star lineup including Moses Sumney, Caroline Polacheck, Jehnny Beth & Okay Kaya.”

Photographer: Natalia Parsonson

Stylist: Evan Betts

"I believe we are suffering from a collective trauma, so we must heal collectively"

Pauli’s musical influences are all taken from many classic films he watched growing up, from Sun Ra’s ‘Space is the Place’, Pink Floyd ‘Live in Pompeii’ and even Jimi Hendrix live in Monterey; “My homie Blue May, showed me this video as a teenager. This changed my life. I started growing my hair after watching this and ever since, I wanted to have the same effect on the drums that Jimi had on the guitar.” All of these influences trickle down into the sounds we hear from him today, which is an explosion of afrofuturistic, experimental soul and a unique blend of alternative R&B vocals. His debut EP ‘The Idea Of Tomorrow’ features Idris Elba who he made a connection with on a taxi ride to a recording studio in Mali, he says “Idris joined us on the trip for a few days - everyone knew he was playing Mandela at the time, so it was surreal to connect with him in Africa. We realized we knew a lot of the same people and had a lot in common, from that point on he was like a big brother always checking in and we’ve been homies since.” The 5-track EP lead to the launch of his live shows with an opening slot for Sampha’s Mercury Award winning ‘Process’ LP tour.

Healing is a constant journey in our human experience and it’s something that presents itself in various forms, from movement to meditation, listening to music, the list goes on. The artist expresses, “I believe healing is a collective process. I made an oath to take more time to listen to the women in my life. Being patient and hearing their stories. In knowing that the women in my life feel seen and heard, I can reciprocate that energy. I believe we are suffering from a collective trauma, so we must heal collectively.” Pauli’s most recent project, ‘Rescue The World, Protect Black Women’, bloomed from conversations around a JWW hat that he once bought which states ‘respect the world’. This sparked his idea of reclaiming genres like electronic soul/house/dance as Black music to celebrate black womxn. Pauli aims to create a safe healing space for Black women in the industry through five tracks of dance music, stating “I feel a weight of responsibility to ensure the women in my life feel safe. I dedicated this project to all the Black womxn in my life. The women who raised me and my daughter.” The project features an array of chopped samples, erratic percussion and african-inspired rhythms, creating an intergalactic sonic experience built from scratch. Available only on Bandcamp, all proceeds are donated to African American Policy Forum’s #SayHerName campaign.

As we settle into the rhythm of a new season Pauli is taking the time to strengthen his immune system and look after his mental health. In hopes of releasing a third EP titled ‘Secret Life of a Badman Vol. 2’ which he says “explores my subconscious toxic masculinity that I’m unlearning, sexual fluidity, and stereotypes in Black British culture.”

Stream 'Rescue The World, Protect Black Women' and Pauli's music video to his track ''Don't Hold Your Breath' remix featuring Tawiah below!

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