We were lucky enough to catch up with the UK based artist Paul Middleton. Please find our insightful interview with this mesmerising talent below.
Hi Paul, Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. For those who don’t know you, please tell us about yourself?
I was born in the U.K but I grew up in different parts of the world: Egypt, Nigeria, and the Caribbean. Mainly through my mother and sister, I learnt about music. I had my first experience of singing at the age of 8 whilst singing in the school choir in Nigeria. We were asked to record a charity song and we were taken to a recording studio. I remember it being really dark with lots of cables and very exciting. The producer reduced the choir to the final 6 and I was part of that 6. A few years later I joined the church choir at a school and loved singing hymns.
At 21 I joined a tribute group but also did solo work. I did my first gigs in a restaurant in Essex which had two floors and I was expected to go up and down to entertain everyone which was really difficult – but I learnt quickly how to grab a crowd. It was like an apprenticeship. Since then I have grown as a singer, performer and artist. I have been so lucky to: sing and travel all around the world, write my own song called ‘Hanging In There’ for an independent film and meet so many incredible people. I still pinch myself.
Brilliant. What has your best gig been?
Recently, I sang at a festival in front of 4,000 people and I had the best time. They were up for it and so was I it was such a buzz. A career highlight. Another favourite was in Belgium in front of 40 people in a pub. Intimate gigs are a lot of fun. I go out into the audience and despite the language barrier we all had a blast and I loved connecting with them.
You are releasing your latest album ‘Covers 3’ soon, tell us about this latest release?
‘Covers 3’ is a lot more diverse in that it has uptempo, fun pop to dance to a little folk to ballads compared to my previous two which were more ballad driven. I started this album with the Fleetwood Mac song ‘Everywhere’. If I look at my top 25 most played songs- it was number 1 for a long time. I love their music and this song is so uplifting. With ‘Careless Whisper’, I came out of a difficult time with someone I was heavily in love with and it wasn’t to be. I listened to the lyrics of ‘Carless Whisper’ and just connected whereas before I hadn’t. I loved recording it and I hope I have given the song a new feel while being respectful to the original. The lyrics ‘I’m never gonna dance again’, ‘I feel so unsure’ and ‘we could have been so good together’, just drew me in. It was a great chance to let out some pain I went through. On the other hand, there are lots of happy moments like ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling!’- such a great pop song. Generally, this album has been very autobiographical about the last 4 years. Each song connects to a time in my life. Some great times and some sad times.
What has been your funniest gig moment?
Trousers ripping on stage. Another time, and it doesn’t happen a lot but I got the lyrics wrong to ‘Wake me up before you go go’. Instead of singing ‘ Cause you’re my lady, I’m your fool’ I looked directly into a guys eyes whilst on one knee and said ‘cause I’m your lady’- his reaction was priceless.
Who are your musical influences?
Eric Clapton, Abba, Justin Timberlake, Adele, Eva Cassidy, Daft Punk, Take That, The Lighthouse Family, George Michael and Queen.
Who are your non-musical influences?
My mother died of cancer when I was 15. She loved to sing and dance. It wasn’t until 5 years ago with my first album that I decided to do something in her memory. All the profits from my first two albums (mostly CD sales) went to Cancer Research and I did a lot of charity gigs to raise awareness and support the charity. I never thought about why I got into singing and performing until recently and I think it is one of the ways I carry my mum in my heart. Another influence is the people that support me because I want to do the best I can do for them. I still can’t get over that people are so supportive. I wake up in the morning and I look like a zombie and I think if only they could see me in this state.
What would you say are the biggest obstacles in the way for artists today?
The download and streaming industry has crippled artists. They have everyone by the neck. You can’t make a living off streaming and downloads from an album and considering that is the heart and soul of an artist, I think that is really sad and disgusting from the digital companies. You put blood, sweat and tears into a piece of art and the return is ridiculous.
Also, be prepared for a lot of knock-backs. I was the lead singer in a group and took some time off as my life was all over the place and I needed to get better. They replaced me. I just felt really let down. I help set up this group and invested heavily in them. Two of us carried the group and as the lead, I would say a lot fell on my shoulders. There were a lot of egos and the band moaned about each other and the management. That massively affected my confidence.
What would your main advice be for bands and artists who are starting out?
Work hard. Don’t expect it to land on a plate for you. Be an artist because you love the process and journey, not for the destination.
Very true. Finally, what are your plans for the next two years?
It is time for an original album. The last 5 years I have been thinking about who I am and what I can offer to the world. I have a lot to say, lived and experienced a lot but it’s deciding what direction to take my music. I also hope I will continue to gig and sing on stage and meet more amazing people.
Having been privileged to hear Paul’s latest release ‘Covers 3’ We can not wait to hear what will come next from such an exciting talent. You can find out more about Paul Middleton from the links below.
Interviewed by FVReviews October 2018