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JP Paulsen Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International

JP Paulsen Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International


Lamitschka: How did you choose the title “A Cripple On The Run”?  Is there a story behind the name?

Answer: I had seen a documentary on Elvis Presley, that focused more on his personal struggles than his career, so I wrote down the first line, which goes: “Where do you go when there’s no rock’n’roll?” – followed by a series of questions. I may have thought I wrote a song about Elvis, but when I look back at my life back then, I really had no clue where I was going. I’d gone through a divorce. I had stopped performing. I was going through a deep identity crisis. I was clearly on the run from something, but at the same time felt like a cripple, without the ability to move. So I may have thought I wrote a song about Elvis, or to everyone out there who’s struggling, but was probably just trying to find some answers myself. I was probably the cripple on the run in the story.

Lamitschka:  How was the last year for you? What were your highlights?

Answer: Last year was a year of big changes. I had been in a group called Kelner for quite a few years, and halfway through 2016, we had signed a big record deal, done a collab with the popular Norwegian group Donkeyboy, written a song for an upcoming movie, and topped it all by opening for Lionel Richie. Still something didn’t feel quite right. I went on a two week long road trip in Europe, visiting a total of 11 countries. It seemed everyone was having vacation at the same time as me, ‘cause there were no phone calls, no mails, no need for me to be here and there, do this and that, and that’s when I realized how little time I had had to breathe. I remember sitting on a ferry, staring at the ocean, feeling calm and relaxed for the first time in many years. Well, at least, without drinking. I had literally forgotten that feeling. By the end of the trip, I decided to make some major changes. Some careerwise, some personal. I quit some bad habits. I realized life had more to offer than hard work. A few months later, we disbanded Kelner. I still work hard, but I make sure to take breaks. I turn off the phone, head out in nature, and songs happen to come out of it. Taking time off is not a waste, even if you look at it from a career perspective.

Lamitschka: What has been the biggest disappointment in your life?

Answer: By the time I was 26, I had dropped out of school, had married and divorced young, was taking all kinds of shitty jobs, and was going through a major identity crisis. But more importantly, I had stopped performing. And that was a huge disappointment, ‘cause music had always been my first love. I remember one day, as I was coming home from work, I broke into tears as soon as I got inside. I felt as lonely as I had ever felt. Then the words of Leonard Cohen came to me: “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”. I realized I had been digging my own grave for too long, and decided to hold on to whatever tiny little ray of light there was left in my life. I so needed something to hold on to, that I told myself that one day I was not only going to work with music again, but I was going to work with the best.  I even wrote down one particular name on a piece of paper, hid it in a secret place, and never told anyone. Six months later, I found myself performing my own songs for the first time in years. Then many years later, I even took out that old piece of paper, that had been lying untouched in a secret place for so long, and wrote “check” on it.

Lamitschka: What was your big break that got you into the music business?

Answer: It all started with the decision I made that day, that – in the midst of darkness – I was going to hold on to that tiny little ray of light. Then I knew I had to take a first step. So I called the only person I knew in the local music biz, Paul Johannessen, a great singer-songwriter. I didn’t even know him personally, so I felt kinda embarrassed to contact him. But I knew I had to do something. And it turned out to be the right thing to do, ‘cause he invited me to do a concert with him, and one step led to another, and all of a sudden I’m being the project manager of all time Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak’s comeback as a songwriter in the ESC. And I get to work with legends like Morten Harket with Kelner, and I think: How the heck did I end up here? And I know it’s all because I decided to hold on to that tiny little ray of light, and dared to take the first step – even if it felt like walking on water. It still does, by the way.

Lamitschka: Do you have any interesting stories about how someone has been affected by your music?

Answer: When I was only 15 years old or something, and was playing the piano in some public place. I don’t remember exactly where. But this homeless lady comes up to me, sits down and start listening as I play. When I’m finished, she gives me a hug and tells me, with tears rolling down her face, that I’m playing like an angel. Believe me, I’m no angel, and can’t play like one either. However, that’s the kind of effect music has on people. And that’s the kind of response you’re hoping for. Always. More than any five star newspaper review.

Lamitschka: What kind of songs do you like to record the most?

Answer: I’ve been a songwriter for others for years, having been involved in about 40 releases, but you haven’t seen my name or face on the covers. When I finally decided to go solo, it was to record the songs that – over the years – had been too personal to give to others. The songs I felt I had to sing myself. The ones that were telling my story. And since that story took a new turn last year, some new songs have been written as well.

Lamitschka: How much creative control do you have over your music?

Answer: Some people practice three hours a day on one particular instrument, and become very good at it. I’m not that patient, so instead of practicing hours and hours on one instrument, I’ve practiced a little on a few instruments, not enough to be very good at one, but enough to be a little good at a few. And since I do most of the instruments myself, I guess I can’t complain over lack of control. My friend Jerry Geraldi from New York, who was taught by American harmonica legend Adam Gussow – most notably known for appearing on U2’s Rattle & Hum – came in and did a great harmonica solo, as well. Then fellow Norwegian Eivind Kløverød, who by the way has the coziest studio I’ve ever been to – MyTown Recording Studio – mixed the track and added some spicy percussion. The song was recorded there as well as in my living room and my old folk’s loft.

Lamitschka: What will your next single be?

Answer: It’s going to be even more country than the current. I wrote it in a cabin high up in the mountains – in fact, in the very same cabin as is pictured on the cover of my current single “A Cripple On The Run”. The lyrics were inspired by last year’s events, which we talked about earlier. The chorus hits off with “I’ll live for real this time.” And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had an exciting life. But I’ve learnt that there’s a difference between outer and inner success. And I’m glad I finally started to prioritize the latter as much as the first.

Lamitschka: What's the best compliment a fan has ever given you?

Answer: My former group Kelner received a message from the other side of the world, from a mother who’s child was autistic, and couldn’t talk. Music was her only way to reach her. She told us how there were certain songs her daughter would try and sing along to, and that’s how they would communicate. She told us how our song “Nothing Is Real” was one of those songs she’d sing along to, and it deeply touched my heart to know that a song you helped write can have that sort of impact. That’s everything you can hope for.

Lamitschka: If you had the chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

Answer: Bring more honesty into it.

1 comment:

  1. Just a great up and coming artist! Can't wait to hear more!

    ReplyDelete