The Wu-Tang Clan had a unique ideology at the time of their inception. No other Hip-Hop groups had the same kind of value system and ideals that Rza, Gza and ODB instilled in their crew of pioneering Shoalin monks.
I would like to think Wolf + Lamb are like a modern day Wu Tang Clan. Housier, more refined but with similar ideals. Zev and Gadi would no doubt be Rza and Gza respectively, taking their place at the top of the crew – leading the charge and holding everything together as they take the world by storm. Soulclap would combine to be Ol’ Dirty Bastard – the charisma, life and the soul of the party. Nicolas Jaar would be Ghostface Killer with the sheer charm of his technique being largley unparalleled.
So where does Greg Paulus fit in to the picture? Well he would take the place of Method Man and just like Meth, Greg is arguably (along with Nico) one of the most technically talented members of the family. His productions are some of the most musically interesting and just like Method Man, Greg seems to have an insatiable charm and hunger to create. Not only does he make music solo, but he also forms one half of No Regular Play with his old school friend Nick DeBruyn (who I guess you could say is the Redman in this tenuous equation) and finally he is also part of the Mathew Dear live band.
We caught up with Greg whilst in Berlin before he sets off on tour with the Matthew Dear live band as they support Interpol on their European tour.
Hey Greg, lets start with the basics – Name, age and city of birth please!
Gregory Stephen Paulus 26 years old born in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Where do you currently live?
The lovely Marcy Hotel in the south side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
What is Brooklyn like? It must be a real mixture of good and evil?
I think Brooklyn is whatever you want it to be, it’s constantly moving and I have to say its doing so in a very professional manner.
The whole house movement isn’t really as big in the states as it is in most of Europe. Would you say that’s a fair assumption? I mean, generally speaking clubs are populated with Hip-Hop and R&B fans right?
I don’t know, I seem to notice the Hip-Hop and R&B in the US leaning more and more towards house and electronic music – music geared for the club. But it’s fair to say its on a much larger scale in Europe.
So what is the party scene like in places like Brooklyn?
Lately the party scene feels fairly makeshift, people setting up parties on the fly basically. The best times I’m having right now are usually impromptu hangs that turn into parties, my friends just bring a bunch of vinyl and we just play ‘em all and go nuts!
If you go out, where do you like to dance?
Anywhere that has a slightly unusual environment, but I can have fun anywhere as long as my friends are there.
When did you get involved with the Wolf + Lamb family?
I met Zev at Mutek, started going to their parties and then began sending them music. I then met Gadi and eventually everything just really clicked together, and we were hanging out constantly and working on music together, it seemed to happen in an instant. I think this all started in 2007, if my memory serves me right…
What are the dynamics of the whole W+L crew? Is it like the Wu-Tang, built on a philosophy and around a hierarchy?
Haha! Maybe subconsciously it is, everybody in the crew just pulls it all together to make it happen. I think we all want to see each other maximize our creativity to the fullest, to see each other shine and when we work together, in any combination, something great tends to happen.
Tell us a little about your musical schooling?
Well it’s probably a long boring tale but I’ll give you the short version: I studied trumpet with a few extremely helpful teachers over the years in Minnesota and New York, classical players as well as jazz. I was part of a jazz residency program at Stanford University while I was still in high school that was extremely helpful. I was able to learn first hand from real legends. Then I went to Manhattan School of Music in NYC to further my studies in jazz trumpet, piano and composition. I also went out to play sessions a lot, like jam sessions. I learned as much in the late night jam sessions at these clubs as I did in the school, actually maybe more. The city is a wonderful teacher.
You primarily make house music, but your productions verge on deep soul, a little bit of a hip-hop influence – and all with a serious groove. Do you think dance music is becoming more open, or are you not trying to make dance music as such?
I think when I was younger I thought that I would try and make dance music more open, more weird, more diverse but at that point I had barely scratched the surface. A few years later, I’m older and I don’t think of it that way anymore. I hope that my efforts are in some way helping to broaden the spectrum but I think this was happening naturally anyway.
Do you find that sometimes in the world of house and techno, a lot of producers sometimes forget about the world of music outside?
I think when I first approached the genre I felt this way but after meeting so many brilliant producers in the last 5 years I feel like there are really some great musical minds at work here and I think they are very conscious of all music around them.
Your track ‘Whats Mine Is Yours’ which you released on Double Standard last year completely blew me away- it may have been my most played record of the year. Did you know it was such a monster when you made it and how long where you sitting on it for before it came out?
I have to say when I made that track I had a very special feeling about it right away. I kind of feel that way with all of the tracks that I make so…. ha! But when I made it, it was clearly a little early to put it out as the sound that people were playing just wasn’t there yet, the timing wasn’t right. But I couldn’t sit on it for too long, so we just put it out cause you can’t let music just sit around on computers.
Which producers are you digging at the moment?
Oh man, I am absolutely loving the Frankie Knuckles/Jamie Principle classic Trax stuff ‘Bad Boy’ etc. Tiger & Woods / Pop & Eye are also constantly blowin’ me away. Mark E always, I can’t stop playing the Benjamin Sun track ‘Salty Tears’ and what else? How can I forget my favorite producers Benoit & Sergio. I love everything they touch!
If you had to choose, would you choose Biggie or Pac?
I would have always said BIG then I saw Pac’s Resurrection movie and my mind was blown, but I always lean a lil’ east.
Finally, 5 desert Iisland albums?
1. Pablo Casals – Bach Cello Suites
2. Miles Davis – Live Evil
3. Donny Hathaway LIVE
4. Roy Ayers – Everybody Loves the Sunshine
5. Slum Village – Fantastic vol. 1/2