A few hours after this interview, Paper Diamond was posted up in a Philadelphia hospital, getting X-rays on his ankle. During his show he jumped off stage and injured himself, but refused to end his set early. It’s moments like these that make it hard to deny his dedication. The Colorado DJ/Producer is committed to every aspect of brand, including designing his new merchandise, as well as the visuals on his Raindrops Tour. Your EDM had the chance to sit down with this insightful artist last week, to discuss the #RainGang, his new EP, and more.
What stop on the Raindrops Tour has surprised you the most so far?
Honestly I don’t go into any show with any expectations; I just kinda roll with it. There have been so many amazing shows each week and Knoxville, Charleston…the whole south and really the east coast have been great. The northeast has been crazy because of all the snow you guys have been getting lately. When we were in Boston there was three feet of snow and NYC it’s like -10 degrees…just awful to be outside.
Your tour has a new setup, right?
Yes, I used to have two computers and my iPad. The iPad sends a signal to the first computer which controls Abelton Live which I can use to improvise and it also sends a signal to the second computer that controls all the LEDs. However, with some of the bigger shows like Red Rocks, I was getting too much of a lag and the signals weren’t responding fast enough, so I switched it out so it’s more intuitive. There are people who don’t get it and they’re like oh, he uses an iPad onstage, but what they don’t realize is that it’s the same as any other MIDI controller onstage, it just happens to be wireless.
So how much extra equipment did you bring with you?
We bought this huge trailer that’s on the back of the bus. We have like..70 LED panels all the crazy subs and all the MIDI controllers. It’s the most insane production we’ve ever had, takes about 4-5 hours to set up before each show.
You mentioned the tour has custom visuals. How involved were you in the creative process?
Completely. I’ve been doing everything with my friend BerkVisual. He and I ran Elm & Oak together and were managing chairs of Two Fresh and some other groups; we even had our art gallery and all that stuff. Recently, I took a step back from all the things I was doing because I wanted to get back into writing music and really focus on one thing since I was stretching myself too thin. He worked on all the Paper Diamond graphics and merchandise with me so it all has an underlying theme to it.
Where did you get your inspiration from?
I’m like a sponge, I just draw inspiration from anything. I do design, I’m a photographer, I’m a musician. It’s just about seeing things differently and looking at the world a little bit differently. Also, I think a lot of the things that we’re doing with Rain Gang and the rain drop artwork, the main concept is mind over matter and having an independent mind. It’s a positive meaning with a darker look. We’re always looking for new dopest shit, looking to keep creating something new and fresh.
So what does it take to be apart of the Rain Gang?
It’s just people who think for themselves, individuals who know what’s good and want to share that with their friends. It’s being one of us: people who know how to party but can do it responsibly, who can handle all their shit and do both. It’s for those who enjoy music and enjoy the escape of music, but are firmly placed in reality. We’re working on Raingang.com, where people can submit their art and music. We haven’t figured out how we’re going to display it yet, but we’re collecting stuff from members we think is dope. We just want to create a community of people that create and love art and want to share and support each other and come to shows to link up and meet each other. Ultimately for me, music was always that community to celebrate life with your friends, Like going to shows and letting go of everything and losing yourselves and being in the moment with the people you care about so we’d like to continue on that path.
Speaking on art and music, you’re going to South by Southwest at the end of your tour. Will you be attending as a musician or will you be looking to connect to new people to help push Rain Gang forward?
Actually, I’m going straight to Europe now. We were originally planning to do SXSW but I’m going to be back there the following month so there’s no reason to do both. I mean, SXSW is fun and everything, but I’m going to Europe for a set of shows and to write with a bunch of singers in London for about a week before Scandinavia. That’s my focus after the tour, before festival season officially starts.
I’m sure the fans will forgive you if you’re working on new music this year.
I hope so! I haven’t put out a release in a fair amount of time, over a year at this point, and I have so much unfinished music I’ve been sitting on, but it’s so close to being done. The Raindrops EP is about to come out and I’m super proud of it because it’s not an EP of club bangers. It’s nice music with great melodies and lyrics that are relevant to my life which I think is dope. It’s completely different this time; I’m not trying for anything other than to make multi-genre nice music. It’s going to be a big turn for people that listen to my stuff. It’s just my entire focus this year: putting out the most music in 2015 that I’ve ever put out before.
What differences have you noticed in your production style over the past year?
I’m always learning new tricks, everything is always different. I’m a person, I’m growing and learning, changing. I never want to stick to one thing. Another thing about music for me is that I always listen to have my mind blown. What is that sound, what is that ID…I’m always searching for that and then sharing it with people and I think that’s why I’ve been able to do what I do, I show people what’s good before they know what’s good.
Who was the last person that blew your mind?
That happens frequently. I listen to new people all the time. Migo has some dope stuff, there’s a lot of producers out there. It’s all about being inspired.
Your music is heavily influenced by Rap & Hip-Hop. Do you think EDM/Rap crossovers will continue in 2015 and what artists do you think will reach across the aisles to make it happen?
Music is alive and always changing so it’s hard to predict where it’s gonna go. I see more rappers and MCs reaching out to electronic producers and I see a lot of MCs and rappers NOT reaching out to electronic producers and trying to forge their own way. It’s interesting because people start their own thing all the time. Some of them say ‘fuck everything that came before’ and some pay homage. It’s always different. It can change very quickly.
Does it hurt someone to not reach out for help?
I think it’s a good thing! It’s like being an individual and just rolling the dice. Somebody like Griz who might have had the opportunity to be on Pretty Lights Music but instead decided to release his own stuff and start his own pact…that was a great move for him.
What risks have you been taking in your music lately?
My music has always been so left field that I live in that zone. I’m not tryna fit in I guess. That’s what it is for me; my shit has never fit into anything, it’s just me. So again with the Rain Gang stuff. People who have never fit in, they have a place to showcase what they do. Sometimes not fitting in is better. I want to make music and let it speak for itself which is what you’ll be able to tell when the new EP comes out. It’s more than just beats. It’s songs about things and there’s still great production to it, but there are more messages to it.
Photo: Christina Kuhlmann