Meet Paul Basic, the latest addition to Derek Vincent Smith's Pretty Lights Music imprint

Last night, we tagged along with Paul Brandt, aka Paul Basic, as he and Michal Menert were doing a photo shoot with Pat Milbery and the So-Gnar snowboarding monster. Brandt is one of the most recent additions to Derek Vincent Smith's Pretty Lights Music imprint. Between snapshots, we spoke with Brandt about what he's been up to aside from completing his first full length EP, getting signed to PLM, and still working a day job.

Westword: So you just dropped your first EP on Pretty Lights Music label, to which you just signed, and your Colorado tour run is about to commence. That's now. What have you been doing for the past couple years?

Paul Brandt: The bigger project for the past couple years was Half Color, which I picked back up on back in 2008 with Michal [Menert]. We worked on Half Color a lot, but that slowed down since Michael's been on tour, which means I've had almost a full year to really focus on my solo work.

How do you compare your solo work to Half Color? Basically, what drove you to really branch out and find your own sound?

I look at Half Color to reference a lot of this. I wasn't actively seeking my solo career before that. I wasn't seeking anything more than just looking for a direction. With Half Color, we were able to show a broader range of music. We could play behind the controls together; One night, he might be on synths and I'm covering the samples. Other nights, I'm on synths and Michal would be on samples.

It's cool to see how other people use your samples and see what they do with it. As that progressed, we started noticing how much fun the project as. When Michal went on tour, I was able to focus on my sound and really create my album. That is where a lot of the tracks on this EP came from. I started exploring my ideas.

How do you see Half Color progressing? Or, are you focusing on really making a career out of your solo work?

I'm cool either way. I just like working on tracks and creating more and more. At this point, they have both become their own entity and if needed, I would have to decide which one I want to focus on. Michal has really been supporting his album by touring, and with my release, I plan on doing the same thing.

Since I just dropped my album, I'll really be in support of that right now. Because we are working on our solo stuff now, we really haven't been able to work on the Half Color side of things. We do have songs in the works that we've had in the works for awhile, ones that we could probably wrap up if we really wanted to. I'm just focusing on my solo stuff so when we do play together, people can expect it to be awesome.

When does your Colorado tour get started?

That part is the last leg of Menert's fall tour, and it starts in Boulder, then hits other Denver and surrounding gigs. It was in the talks that I might be able to join them on the West Coast tour, but that's definitely up in the air.

What's next for the newest signed member to Pretty Lights label? Are there any certain plans you have now that your work is out there?

I think the biggest thing is really getting involved my track sampling. I love doing these remixes of obscure, random songs. Basically, I just want to get my shit together and get started on a new album. There is so much music out there that I really want bits and pieces of it all.

Where do you find that inspiration to do just what you want? Does it grow from a different genre?

I've been really thinking about these grunge tracks by a band called Clutch. Ever heard of 'em? You don't have to be in with love the music you sample, as long as it's really a sample. I can't go back and find digital cuts of Clutch albums to rip sounds or verses apart. But, when I think of a song from my childhood or school years that really resonated with me then, I want to find it and play with it now. The problem is a lot of that older music isn't as readily available in digital files these days, so there is a lot of playing around. Again, it's all just fun.

Any plans to move out or move beyond Colorado?

Not right now; not at all. It's strange coming back though after seeing what PLM has been doing. When I came back into the scene, I realized that this is the place for me. I don't feel like moving anywhere, but as it stands, if the opportunity came up, I might have to check something out. Right now, though, I got a job, and it's just important to me that when the time is right, I can really settle down and focus strictly on music production.

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Britt Chester is a writer and video producer living in Denver, Colorado. He's covered breaking news, music, arts and cannabis for Westword since 2010. His work has appeared in GQ Magazine, Village Voice, YES! Weekly, Inman News and the Winston-Salem Journal. He likes running, cycling, and interviewing people.
Contact: Britt Chester