Paul Randolph: Diversifying Listeners

Multi-talented Detroit musician Randolph, aka Paul Randolph has been honing his musical craft for many years. Born in Philadelphia, he and his family moved to San Paolo, Brazil when he was six years old. Coupled with his family’s musical background and the culture of Brazil, Randolph began to develop his musical skills as well as his love of music. Eventually settling in Detroit during his teen years, graduating from Central Michigan University with a degree in Marketing, and even working as a personal trainer, Randolph finally went back to his calling, music. He has performed with such greats as P-Funk, War, Zap Mama, and Robert Cray to name a few. Later he landed a gig as front man for the New Orleans-style funk band MudPuppy. After his stint with MudPuppy, he went on to play and record with Amp Fiddler, iSoul8, TettoryBad, and the Berlin-based jazz/funk group, Jazzanova. A versatile musician and vocalist, Randolph’s music has been classified in many different genres such as pop, rock, neo soul, jazz, funk, and blues. His first solo effort, “This Is…What It Is” was released on Kenny Dixon, Jr.’s Mahogani music imprint in 2004. His second solo project, “Lonely Eden” was released in 2007 and featured notable collaborations such as “Broken” with vocalist Stephanie McKay, “Claim” with Amp Fiddler, and the title track “Lonely Eden” with Waajeed of Platinum Pied Pipers. An obviously natural story-teller, Randolph states, “As I reflect, I realize that this has always been my calling and I humble myself to life, art, and aspire to continue to grow and evolve.” In a deep, soft tone that would make any woman swoon, he takes a moment to chat candidly with Singersroom about his life experiences and what has helped to shape him into the talented musician he has become today.

Singersroom: Your music has been thrown into many different genres such as alternative, rock, jazz, and neo soul. How would you best describe your music?

Paul Randolph: [Laughs] I kind of avoid answering that question because I feel it’s more important to me what the listener thinks. I don’t want to tell anybody what to think. I know what it means to me but ultimately, I’m more concerned about what it means to the listener. I think we all have a different reference library and some are more diverse than others. So, I think you just compare it to what you’ve been exposed to. I try not to tell people what to think.

Singersroom: I understand your father is also a musician, what type of an impact do you think he had on your decision to become a musician yourself?

Paul Randolph: Well, my dad was not a full time musician but music was always (and continues to be) an important part of his life. My first memories of music (were from him), whether it was music being played by him, he’s an incredible guitar player and jazz trombonist. Between that and music being played on the radio, it had an incredible impact on my decision to go into the music business. Later on in life I realized that I came from a rather musical family. My grandfather was a singer and a dancer who performed with Sarah Vaughn. Then, my grandmother (my father’s mother) both she and my great aunt studied arts and music in school. So, there was always music particularly on my father’s side of the family. My mother and my aunt both sing in church so I guess the singing side came from my mother.

Singersroom: I’ve often heard you referred to as “one of the baddest base players around”. How does that title make you feel?

Paul Randolph: Oh wow! Wow, well it’s certainly an honor to be given that title. I’m humbled by it because I think of all the people I admire, and who have influenced me as a player. I think about it in retrospect from when I started, how I started, and up to the present. It’s been a lot of time, a lot of gigs, a lot of practice, and a lot of trial and error. You just kind of try to find your own way and find your own voice. The person, I guess my mentor, who really helped me the most, one of my favorite bass players was Jaco Pastorius who I met almost when I first started playing. I had the opportunity to hang out with him for a couple of hours. He gave me a lot of great advice and he changed my life as far as how to approach my instrument and developing a discipline and dedication to the instrument. So, I really do appreciate the compliments because I certainly stand in the shadows of all these wonderful people who paved the way for me.

Singersroom: How did you hook up with the band, Jazzanova?

Paul Randolph: I was on tour with my good friend Amp Fiddler, and I was playing bass and singing background with him and we played in Berlin for the first time. There was an after party that it turned out a couple of DJ’s from Jazzanova were spinning at. Amp got up and sang, did a little improv thing and suggested that I get up and sing. I was like, “Nah, they really liked you up there.” He kept insisting so I finally got up there in front of the mic and they motioned for me to go ahead. So I sang and I remember the crowd really reacting favorably to it. Then later on that year I ran into one of the other Jazzanova DJ’s who reminded me of that night and asked if I would like to be on their next record and I said sure. They sent me the first single, which I helped co-write, ‘Let Me Show Ya’. They flew me out to Berlin, then I recorded ‘Lucky Girl’ and did the Morrissey cover ‘Dial A Cliché’. Shortly after that they asked if I’d like to do a few live gigs and I said sure. What was supposed to be a few turned into 48 [laughs].

Singersroom: Do you think your music is received better overseas than it is in the states?

Paul Randolph: I don’t know if it’s that it is received better as much as there is more opportunity to work. Somehow you’re able to work a little bit more over there and consequently, you have more exposure. What you find out is some of the work you’ve done in music that you thought had a shelf life, turns out that it has more than just a shelf life and it extends well beyond its release year. You find that people do know what you do and are aware of who you are, and those that have not been exposed to you will go out of their way to find out more about you.

Singersroom: You performed the song “Broken” from the “Lonely Eden” CD with vocalist Stephanie McKay, how did that collaboration come about?

Paul Randolph: Well, Stephanie was singing backgrounds with Amp when I was with him, and she and I became good friends. I asked her if she would sing on my record and she said of course.

Singersroom: What new projects do you have in the works?

Paul Randolph: I’m working on about three or four new projects right now. There’s just a lot of music that I love and a lot of things that I want to say and a lot of ways I want to say it. I’m working on a couple of projects along with writing the new CD. It’s kind of an extension of ‘Lonely Eden’, some things I wanted to kind of expand upon that I wasn’t sure was going to work, that ended up working. Also, I’ve been collaborating with a lot of different artists as well.

Singersroom: Are you anticipating doing anymore projects with Amp Fiddler?

Paul Randolph: We’ve talked about it. We’ve had this ongoing talk about doing a project together but we just honestly haven’t gotten around to it. With the recent loss of his son I don’t know how soon that would really happen. I just kind of want to give him his space to grieve.

Singersroom: What would you like people to know about Paul Randolph that they may not already know?

Paul Randolph: I like to cook [laughs]. I’m a health nut, I like to work out and eat healthy but I’m not over the top. Sometimes I just want a piece of greasy chicken like everybody else. I’m also a movie buff and I love old movies especially black and white films.

To find out more about Randolph and his music, please check him out on Myspace at —— By: Interview By Tiffany Haggerty


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