Legendary 80’s Glaswegian singer-songwriter Owen Paul has returned after a twenty-year hiatus from his music career.
Paul left the music industry in the 80’s because he felt restricted in creating the music he wanted to write and produce by the record company, Sony.
He is well-known for his 1986 number 3 hit single ‘My Favourite Waste of Time,’ which was one of the most popular tracks of the 1980s.
Now Paul has returned after noticing how the current music industry welcomes artists having more control over their music.
Paul has never stopped writing and recording his music, and is excited to share his work. Watch his live performance of ‘Amazing.’
The original ‘Amazing’ track was going to be included in Robbie Williams’ last album, however it was rejected in the last minute. Paul then sent the single to StoneBridge and Damien Hill for a remix version, who wanted to work with a new and original song.
I interviewed Owen Paul about the ‘Amazing’ remix, and his opinions on the limitations of the music industry for artists.
What is the most surprising response to the remix?
One, people are quite surprised that it’s an Owen Paul song, and two, it has been said to me that it’s the most commercial thing that StoneBridge has done. Given that he has already been nominated for a Grammy and has had many hits, I am quite pleased with that.
What inspired you to write these lyrics?
The song in itself happened very, very quickly. I heard it all in my head in one go as a complete piece…so it was just a case of me figuring out how to play what I had heard. It’s a very, very simple song lyrically…but it’s about an absolutely huge subject…the mere fact that we humans can reproduce in an incredible thing.
Describe how you went about creating the remix with StoneBridge and Damien Hall.
The original version of the song was recorded using e-logic…so it was a full on digital recording with expensive microphones and so on. I was very keen for StoneBridge and Damien to do their own thing so I simply sent them all the individual stems (recordings) and left them to it. My only request was that they played the original version many times before they did their magic….I’m delighted with the results.
THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
It’s been 20 years since your successful hit singles and debut album. How has the music industry changed since you left?
The music industry is almost now unrecognisable to me, and, as always, there are good and bad things. The digital revolution and more so the internet has changed things dramatically. Streaming for example, is fantastic for the consumer but gives virtually no return to the artist or writer….this is a major problem. Any singer/songwriter would tell you that all they want is to be able to afford to do the next song or recording and I am no different….it’s very difficult. It is almost certainly why many acts charge extortionate ticket prices for their concerts as they need to get their revenue stream from somewhere else. This in turn hurts the consumer, so it is a double-edged sword for all.
Lots of artists struggle with producing the music they want because of the limitations of the music industry. Was there a specific moment where you wanted to do something different but were refused to do so?
Being signed to my record company as a rock artist and then somewhat ironically releasing what became a massive pop hit, caused me no end of trouble with my label thereafter. They wanted everything to be more of the same (understandably) but I did not….it became very clear to me very quickly that the record company would not support me or promote me unless I did what they said…so I walked away.
Do you think the music industry should focus on embracing the artists’ creativity more than the fame? How much control should the music industry have?
Quite often, even record company executives with years of experience have no idea what they are talking about…and many artists do. The Beatles were rejected by everyone in the industry before their worldwide and world changing success. That is not to say that an artist shouldn’t hear advice from everyone but more often that not it’s instinct that counts…so the advice doesn’t always have to be used…it should be a balance of the two.
Since leaving the record company, you have moved onto other routes, such as producing the album Taboo for the Japanese group, BUCK-TICK, in 1989. How was this experience?
The Taboo album by Buck Tick was a very stressful experience for me as producer…I had three weeks to bring the album in, they had virtually no songs and could barely play. As you can imagine…that created quite a few problems for me…the one thing I learned, as if I didn’t know it already, is that anything’s possible as the album came in on time, went triple platinum within three weeks of its release and sold millions. Not my finest artistic creation…yet one of my biggest successes…there’s a lesson there somewhere lol
You ran a West End theatre in Leicester Square for 10 years. What’s been your proudest moment?
It was a fantastic experience from start to finish even though I hate musical theatre (true)…by far and away what I am most proud of is the first show that we put on which was Boy George’s Taboo which was a roaring success…but that’s not what I am most proud of…what was satisfying was hearing George, Steve Strange and more saying how well the show had represented their lives.
Public performances can be fun and nerve-wracking. How do you deal with nerves?
I never get nervous, I have no idea why that is the case, or where it came from, but I don’t. This makes all live performance an exciting and fun thing to me regardless of whether it goes well or not…I like the challenge.
How has performing live changed since you started your career?
Performing live is much more satisfying to me now…back in the day when I was a pin-up pop star, quite often…with the greatest respect, the audience were rarely, if ever, listening…now that I am somewhat…less attractive shall we say lol…the quality of the material is at the forefront. I like that.
You’ve performed at the George Michael Anniversary concert recently in Highgate. Was he an influential artist in your music?
George was a good friend and colleague…a good human and a truly awesome artist. I am happy to be involved or associated with him in any way…it was a fabulous night.
Where’s the best place you’ve gigged at?
The Orlando Magic Bowl in Florida…I was only the second non-American person ever to sing the Star-Spangled Banner acapella at the opening of the basketball season…it was also broadcast live to the nation. No surprise…the old punk came out in me and I didn’t rehearse.
Did you run into people you didn’t expect?
Most certainly…John McEnroe…Don Johnson…Sheryl Crow and more…a most bizarre experience
Who are your musical influences?
David Bowie most definitely….. who I have listened to since I was a teenager……he is proof that if you are brave enough you can do almost anything, even in the mainstream. His album Heroes, which contains the wonderful title track and is nowadays regarded as a classic……is surrounded by experimental music on every other track, even just instrumental…this affected me greatly in my youth and I would argue the title track isn’t possible without the rest…..no record label would allow that for a mainstream artist nowadays….shame on them.
I also love Todd Rundgren…he has a tunefulness that is hard to ignore.
And the Sex Pistols and The Clash made me who I am….released the shy me so to speak…..so I am forever grateful.
Your music fits with pop rock. Describe your sound in four words.
Is there a go-to song you like to play?
Heroes by David Bowie, the best record ever recorded in my opinion…never fails to motivate me.
Pick three artists that you’d like to collaborate with.
David Bowie definitely……..Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac……and Trevor Horn…..who makes the best sounding records I’ve ever heard…even if I don’t like the tunes.
What do you like to do outside of music that influences or contributes to your creativity?
I like to mix socially with family and friends and swap ideas and thoughts…..share experiences and knock things around so to speak……I think progress lies there……and I like to include such in my songs.
If you were to travel back in time, name some words of advice for your younger self?
Trust your first instincts all the time…not your second…your first….they are almost 100 percent bang on….its why we have them.
Is there a motto you live by?
If this was football I would say give it all you’ve got….leave it all out on the pitch and have no regrets…….if this wasn’t football I’d say….have no regrets as it covers everything.
THE NEXT STEP
What are your future plans?
I have lots of shows…80s festivals and solo stuff coming up in 2018 including a new album and, as ever, lots of random stuff….for full details see: