Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, and all around creative spirit, Arielle Paul, not only pursues her love of music, but is also a writer and blogger, who writes for the home and design section “My Favorite Room” for the LA Times, and for a style and travel blog, WEST. She is widely known for her original song “You and Me,” for Amazon Prime’s viral commercial.
Paul has been surrounded by music her entire life, as her father is the founding member of the Grammy-winning group, The Manhattan Transfer, and her mother is a writer and model. Music has been inherent in her life from an early age, and that love has clearly grown over the years. Her music has been featured in television shows “Mind of Mencia,” “Drunk History” and “Ghost Girls,” including commercials for Fuji Film, Wacoal, Sheba, Kirin, Mitsubishi, among others.
Her latest effort with her EP Burn combines her love of music in many genres, featuring psych-folk, cowboy disco and soul. We had a lovely chat with Paul about her creative pursuits, the writing process behind Burn, growing up in a creative family, her other pursuits, and much more.
You are a multitude of many facets, including songwriting, singing, journalism and blogging. How do each of these contribute to your creative freedom?
For me, creative freedom means not being limited or pigeonholed into one identity. I struggled with this for a long time, denouncing parts of myself because it didn’t fit into an idea of who I should be. As I’ve gotten older, I find it liberating to celebrate the different mediums in which I work and express myself as an artist. And I really feel like one facet informs the other, like when I’m making music, I’m already envisioning its visual counterpart be it photography, art or lighting design.
Your new EP, Burn, was released on August 16, and features a variety of genres including psych-folk, Americana, cowboy disco, and soul. What was the writing process behind these singles like for you?
Very personal, organic and enveloping. Musically, it was a marriage of my greatest influences and favorite genres. Lyrically, the album encapsulates some monumental moments in my life. The existential ponderings of “Sometimes” were written on the train in England to see my grandfather for the last time. “Epically in Love” poured out of me in a Trader Joe’s parking lot in throws of falling in love. I literally had to pull over and write it. “Burn” was written after a psychedelic, life-changing experience at my first Burning Man Festival.
What was the production and recording process like working on the EP, including collaborating with Dan Gross?
We’re partners in life and in music, so the album was both a creative and personal journey together. A lot of life was lived throughout the years while making it, with circumstances and other projects along the way putting temporary holds on it finishing any earlier. In a poetically perfect way, Dan started it and I completed it. I garnered some production skills over the years and worked with Claire Morison, an amazing engineer, for six months straight at Bedrock LA to complete the vision that Dan and I started while he worked on the sixth season of Drunk History. It was empowering to take things into my own hands and a beautiful gift we both gave each other.
You mentioned in a press release that this album “was a labor of love almost seven years in the making…” Can you elaborate on that?
The journey described above was the labor of love. We started writing “Til the End” and “This Way” on our very first date together seven years ago. We released the album on August 16th, our anniversary. It was very deliberate and appropriate to align the two. And a birthing process in its own right, which at some points felt like I was in actual labor. I pushed hard to finish this, often it was an inspired flow, other times it was like pulling teeth. That’s art and what makes it all the more rewarding when it’s completed. Something worth fighting for.
You’re currently working on creating original music for Shiseido and Nitori’s upcoming commercial campaigns. How did you get involved with that, and what has that process been like for you?
I was incredibly fortunate to write an original song for Amazon Prime Japan’s ad campaign in 2016. No one involved expected it to become an international viral sensation that would air worldwide for 2 years. That opportunity opened a lot of doors and work in Japan, which I am so grateful for. There is a real positive push for creative content in Japan and I am honored and excited to be a part of the process.
You come from a very creative family, musically, writing and model-wise. Being familiar with creativity, did you always know you were going to pursue music and/or the creative aspect of what you do?
Creativity was always in my blood, especially music, I just didn’t know how exactly it would turn out (I still don’t, it’s a process!). What was always certain is a life filled with art and creativity. My parents taught me that, they’re my heroes. Love and creativity are my lifelines, my oxygen, my spiritual connection and the way I connect with so many important people in my life. Sharing creativity is for sure my love language.
You’re also actively involved with volunteering with The Art of Elysium. What does volunteering mean to you, and especially with this organization?
For me, being of service is part and parcel to the process of creating. Art is so personal, but it’s also a universal language that connects beyond normal human boundaries. It brings me such joy to share music with those in need and with such an incredible organization. It’s so deeply fulfilling, humbling and important to maintain a spirit of gratitude and perspective. Sharing music with children in critical conditions or an individual who has been in a hospital bed their entire life will immediately offer that perspective and in turn brings more value to what you are sharing too. It tempers any sense of ego and entitlement and opens your heart, something we could all use a little more of.
Who was your first concert, and who has been your favorite so far?
My dad’s band, The Manhattan Transfer, was most definitely the first. I practically grew up on their tour bus, so it was a given and shaped so much of who I am. I think one of my favorites of all time was when I saw Rufus Wainwright in high school. It was an inspiration to behold.
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. I felt like such a badass buying an “explicit” record.
Which five musicians and/or albums would you not want to live without?
The Beatles, every album, Donovan, Led Zeppelin II, First Aid Kit, Rufus Wainwright’s Poses.
Do you have a guilty music and/or entertainment pleasure?
I have no guilt listening to the Flight of the Conchords, but it gets excessive. The giggle fits are real. I may have had a slight problem with Game of Thrones analysis videos on YouTube. Alt Shift X is particularly riveting. It’s gotten better since the show is over, but it was definitely a guilty pleasure. I needed help recovering after the finale. And Spice Girls — enough said.