Interview: Paris Unltd
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My dad really wanted me to be a sporty kid and so I used to do gymnastics and golf. Unfortunately for him, my dad was also the one who got me hooked on Coldplay, even going so far as getting me me the Mylo Xyloto live tour DVD as a birthday present. I didn’t sit down for a single moment during the first playthrough and that was when I asked my dad if I could start guitar lessons. I had to choose between gymnastics and music lessons because we couldn’t afford both and I didn’t hesitate too much. In a parallel reality I would have been a creative director for video games. I love roleplaying games so much and I think they’ve influenced my storytelling the most, and world building has always been an interest of mine.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Honestly the only thing that pulls me out of writing music is writing in other mediums. I am currently writing a script for a limited series and so I’ve been able to step away from scratching my writer’s itch through music (if only temporarily). I tend to do more research, be more patient and more deliberate when writing scripts and I find that this discipline makes building concepts for music projects more cohesive when coming back into song writing mode.
How long has your band been around?
I released my first single in late 2018, but to be honest I feel like I’ve only started becoming Paris Unltd recently. The music’s always been there, but now I’m figuring out who and what the music is for and what being “unlimited” means to me.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m based out of Toronto and the clearest influence the city’s had on my music is the way I collaborate, release and share things when it comes to music. Toronto is full of so many interesting people and artists but finding them is a laborious task. However, it does come with a high reward because I get to talk and collaborate with music friends for hours and even get more feedback on my work – and I get to do the same for these friends, which is a lesson in and of itself!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
The “Unltd” in my name was inspired by the anime “Fate/ Stay Night – Unlimited Bladeworks” where the main character could reproduce weapons he’s seen. For me the idea was that as a person, I can reproduce myself as many times as I want to, an unlimited amount if I so desired. You can kind of think of me as Red Guy from Cow and Chicken.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I performed at Glad Day bookstore a few years ago and that day I was feeling electric because I put on the wildest all-lavender outfit with yellow shoes and insane eye makeup. I walked all the way to the gig and gave a solid performance to a room full of good energy. That stuff always makes the pre-show nerves worth going through.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
In a dream world, Afropunk would be a trip! NXNE in Toronto would be just as fun as I’ve attended two of them – one of them was graced by an Azealia Banks performance.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some
advice that you would give to your younger self?
Don’t compromise your artistic vision if the people you’re working with aren’t willing to do the same. And don’t take it personal if people won’t budge on their position.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Slow and steady. Focus on the depth and quality of your relationships and not the quantity. Don’t be afraid to burn bridges and be emotional about what you do. Speak your mind often and listen unassumingly. This advice isn’t just helpful for being a better artist, but also for being a better person, and you should always strive to be better, or at least hotter.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
This question should be illegal. It’s like asking which one of my children is my favourite. Still, C2N is making the shortlist for sure because that was the song where I just threw my hands in the air and wrote freely. I was so in love with life when I wrote this song. I was back home in South Africa, and I was playing around on Garageband while running around in the living room pretending that I was in a Björk music video. I would love to write music from those same instincts again.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
People respond well to ill-will. That was actually a song I was performing live before it was recorded and someone in the audience recommended I record my music. I haven’t been able to perform the new music live and so I would be interested show people how different things are now. Unlike the older stuff, we’ve tailored the new songs for an epic live experience!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I essentially get myself into emotionally taxing situations, like falling in love with someone who laughed at a stupid joke I made (which is also the litmus test for all my friendships). Worst of all, I would justify my actions as an “executive creative decision”. This was because I used to want to live in this fantasy where everyone wanted me, and I was emotionally unavailable. Unfortunately, I am too available and too emotional… but that’s a topic for another story. Regardless, once I eventually come out of the other side of things, all battered and bruised, I turn feelings into sound and try capture the emotional rollercoaster.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Shame and working through it has always been a huge theme in the music. I loved singing about the awkward moments that would keep me up at 2 am slamming my head against the pillow. I find that my perspective on life has lightened up a little and I can laugh about the things that made me hate myself so much. Now, I’ve been writing a lot of songs about wanting to feel soft and worthy of adoration. I’m a big guy and sometimes I think people don’t really consider that big guys wanna feel like princesses too.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
So much is going to happen this year that I think all I should say for now is that this time next year, the little universe I’m building is going to look and feel different. I’m going to look different and be much more emotionally available. Think of it as my hot girl era. Oh, and I’ll be coming out with some groovy tunes real soon!