London born, and Brooklyn based singer and songwriter, Aaron Paul shines like a beacon of light to those he encounters. Most people know Paul as the lead singer of the UK chart-topping pop boy band Worlds Apart. The group had an unprecedented chart run of over (5) top 30 UK singles including, ‘Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel,’ recently featured on the soundtrack to the huge blockbuster and academy award winning movie, “The Queen.”
In what most singers would consider a dream come true, Aaron first came to the attention of Arista Records executive, Simon Cowell (American
Idol, Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor), at a boy band audition. Cowell was so impressed by Aaron’s pure voice and natural performance skills, that he offered him the opportunity to join Worlds Apart as the lead vocalist of the group.
I personally experienced Aaron Paul’s radiant energy, and big personality, having met him recently at the VIP opening party for Marble Downtown, one of Manhattan’s hottest new restaurants. The man knows how to make an entrance –and he did, styled to the nines, in a bubble gum pink ensemble, complete with a matching fedora. His look was perfection, comparable to the bold fashion prowess of Billy Porter and Todrick Hall, yet with a boyish approachability that made him seem like that fabulous friend you would love to kiki with while shopping around vintage boutiques, with cocktail stops along the way.
Having moved to Manhattan in 2010, Aaron Paul took a break from music, all the while establishing himself as a visual force and collaborator with some of the world’s most talented artists, designers, and videographers. Along the way, and with a little coaxing from Grammy-winning producer Barry “Oh” Goldstein, Aaron returned to music and embarked upon a solo music career. His first singles were the pop-funk flavored singles, ‘Shake Your Body’ and ‘Searching.’
With his solo artist star continuing to rise, Aaron went on to accomplish his dream of having a number one song on the Dance Charts and Crossover Charts with the up-tempo “I Don’t Care. The dance-pop gem is a song that embodies the attributes by which Aaron lives his life as an out, proud, LGBTQ artist: peace, understanding, and acceptance. The song is a worldwide LGBTQ pride anthem with over 700,000 downloads and extensive club play from DJ’s around the world.
As one of today’s most colorful and talented artists, and in the spirit of WorldPride 2019, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to feature Aaron and share his story with our readers.
CA: Mr. Fabulous Aaron Paul, let me jump right in and tell you I’m a big fan of your fashion sense. I’ve seen you often at some of the hottest events in the city, always looking fabulous head to toe. How would you define your personal style?
AP: Well, Thank you, Corey & Instinct Magazine. You know what? I’m gonna say it, and I’m gonna keep saying it: I am a walking Christmas Tree. I will Glitter, sparkle, Dazzle and shine as long as there is a breath in my body, lol. And I’m gonna tell you what gives me the most joy out of dressing this way, is people’s reaction. I think; first, there is a sudden element of surprise to the regular norm of daily life, to see this colorful spectacle before your eyes parading in front of you. And the complete ownership, pride, and execution to detail that I give and convey while dressed this way. I’m a perfectionist by nature, and I apply that attribute in everything I do. It’s an instant ice breaker. Immediately people will stop to look and begin a conversation with me. Half the time I forget I’m dressed this way cause I’m concentrating on where I have to get to and at what time! So its always a surprise when someone acknowledges what I’m wearing or how I look.
I’m amazed I actually got away with some of the looks I wore. In general, we all admire beauty and confidence. We reminded daily of the gloom & doom, and out of daily life. And the expected cookie cutter uniform, the so-called social norm the social of what lane you are living & driving in. Then along comes me. Aaron Paul, who just so happens to a British Popstar, recording artist, all dressed up in sequins, from the head toe, and who does not give two hoots what people may think. That’s why I get away with it. It’s an attitude, a self-confidence, assurance! I am in complete control of my being. I am free –which is what pride is all about.
My sense of style has abled me to tap into other platforms and other audiences to showcase myself and my music too. My style has allowed me many opportunities to get invited to more prestigious events, host fashion shows, and appear in fashion spreads. All of this has increased my fanbase and exposed me to new and different audiences, which can ultimately influence the selling of more records.
I refuse to be boring. I am a born showman, and I adhere to that level of showmanship. I look to and bring forward the era and times when the execution of showmanship was a significant component of artists work. Style becomes uniquely identifiable with an artist image. So I take your compliment, and from all that I meet very graciously. Thank you.
CA: You are a vibrant, proud and out recording artist, and based on my own experiences in the music industry, I was wondering did you ever experience record companies or music managers trying to suppress who you were or make you hide your sexuality? If so, how did you deal with that?
AP: Yes, I’m at a place in my life, where I know who I am and owning and having pride with all that I am. We all know getting to that place of having full acceptance of one’s self is one hell of a journey. And everyone’s journey is very different. And I can only speak of my own. I went through the fear, the shame, and I got bullied because I was different. So the thoughts of being ridiculed, abandonment, and negative impact on my career because of my sexuality would add extra anxiety for any person, at any age.
I masked a lot of those feelings and energy by pouring it all into my music and striving to obtain a successful music career. And I even used my focus on my music as a deflection for anyone questioning my sexuality, for example, saying that I was way too busy to be dating girls. Music was my perfect cover.
When Simon Cowell signed me at age 18 to Arista records, I was terrified that they would eventually find out who I was. So I kept that part of me intensely suppressed! I’m a private person anyway when it comes to my bedroom antics, so that was easy, but there was the fear of being outed and my family finding out in such a way, and the record company, who had spent a fortune on my group’ Worlds Apart” that was being marketed to scores of teen girls worldwide. So it was a constant worry.
I began to let close friends know, as societal attitudes started to shift at that time. And I saw that it didn’t affect the way they treated me. I learned to accept, love, and share that area of my life. I was lucky. I did fear the worst but ended up being loved the most from a lot of people in my circle. I know that not everyone is so lucky. I have a song on my album called ‘Sexuality,’ of which I am very proud. It speaks of the various forms of sexuality amongst us and how sexuality is like a unique and individual fingerprint for everyone. You have to hear it! It’s hysterical, but a crazy kick ass song, and puts it all out there in a fun, intelligent way.
CA: As a recording artist, you have worked with Simon Cowell of American Idol fame. How did you meet him, and is he was brutally honest in real as he is on TV when he doesn’t like something? Or have you been lucky enough to have never found out?
AP: I met him when I auditioned for the group. The group was already assembled, but they brought me last, as they needed a strong lead singer who could also dance and have a marketable look. He championed for me to be in the group, against the views of these idiot young producers who were riding a wave of having their 1st hit record in the UK. And these arrogant assholes, full of 1 hit wonder ego, I was told “Was’nt sure”..lol. But Simon insisted I was the chosen one and I was signed and started recording with them immediately.
Often I would sit in the back of Simon’s office and observe and learn various aspects of the music business. I always felt that he had a respect for me and valued my voice more so than my other band members or even some record company employees. Sometimes I did not get some of his decisions, but I will tell you one thing, 100% of the time, he was always right!
I suggested one day that I should have singing lessons to help strengthen and have better control over my voice. And he said ‘HELL NOOOOO”. He didn’t want my vocal affected or to change. It was fine for a pop vocalist to be heard on the radio. So that’s a compliment coming from Simon Cowell. Otherwise, I never experienced the wrath of Simon Cowell, lol. I will always say it; he was my best teacher. Everything that I learned from him, I apply and use it for in my career today.
CA: How do you best define your musical style and sound as a recording artist?
AP: I’m just me. And there are so many variations of me still that are still waiting to surface. The truth is, I like, am influenced and inspired by so many artists and genres, to be just limited to just one thing or sound. And I said before; I refuse to be boring. I will flip it in a heartbeat. That’s just my creative being. I explore and challenge my self and even pair myself up with other artists who are entirely different than me. Cause that’s how I learn.
My current single, a song I wrote called ‘FASHION’ #itsFASHIONdahings, which features “TheImageGuru” Montgomery Frazier, is a perfect example of my mind and attitude. I had the nerve to ask this legendary man to work with me. He basically helped shaped pop culture with his incredible body of work, and an eye for cultivating talent. He’s worked with iconic artists like Madonna, Prince, Downtown Julie Brown, became the Fashion director of MTV … and now, here I am, in 2019, collaborating with him on a song that I wrote that celebrates all things FASHION.
So I take chances, and that tells you who I am. I hear very often in the media descriptions of me, as a hi-bred mixture/fusion of a bunch of names like Bowie, Grace Jones, George Michael, Prince, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, and a few others. I am genuinely humbled even to be put in the same box of all these greats. But I still see and think of myself as this enthusiastic kid from Battersea South London UK, with big dreams. I don’t know how to be or do anything different.
CA: I recently attended the Trevor Live event by the Trevor project that provides help for LGBTQ young people in emotional crisis dealing with their sexuality. What advice would you give to a young person today who might be grappling with coming out?
AP: Well, now I would say listen to my song “Sexuality’ on my DANCE album. If you don’t get it after hearing that, then God Help you, lol But on a serious note…I recognize it is not as plain and simple as A, B, C. I know because I’ve been there. There are many factors to everyone’s situation. And there is no template to follow. Just do, and gage it at on your own time and pace. And only when you know you are ready to live your true self, that is when you can handle and walk in those shoes. But do it on your terms and time. And also remember that it’s not the only thing about you, you are so many other things too.
CA: Who are some of the recording artists who most influence you musically, and when it comes to fashion, who are your favorite designers?
AP: I thought I said them earlier Corey, lol. Well, I did mention a few names that do it for me, and sadly, some of them are not here anymore. But I’m fortunate to have been around to witness their greatness and be inspired by their artistic expression in some way or another. I really look, pull, and enjoy from a whole spectrum of artists and genres. I love reggae music because that’s what I grew up with my home, as well as Frank Sinatra. Every artist is a study for me. I’m currently diving into a ton of Judy Garland recordings and writings about her. My good friend, photographer and makeup artist legend Joesph Boggess, whose photos of me are a part of this feature, told me a lot about Garland that I never knew. She was a genius. I’m probably gonna get crucified now by my LGBTQ fanbase because I’m just starting to really learn more about Judy for the first time. I always recognized her as an iconic artist, but never really researched into her amazing catalog and life. So please forgive me luvs, in the name of WorldPride. Horray for Judy! Better late than never, right?
I would be a fool if I didn’t say who is my favorite designer is right now. Esp after he just did all the custom fashion designs for our music video. Malan Breton Baby. But honestly, I love his work. It very RockStar, but still very refined, elegant, and classic. While wearing his stuff, you can be a little naughty, but with a touch of class. Malan Breton Baby!
CA: You’ve got a fun new video, and single ” FASHION #its FASHIONdahlings” tell me about that song?
AP: YES, YES, YES, FASHION #itsFASHIONdahlings. It’s finally ready and out. And I believe that Instinct Magazine will be sharing the video link. Thank you. YAY. And that is my gratitude for all the support my LGBTQ community has shown me since I’ve been on the scene as a solo artist. I wanted to share a project I’m proud of with you all first. And in support of the record, having Montgomery Frasier “The Image Guru” on this project and coming into my life, has been pure joy.
Malan Breton, one of the worlds leading fashion designers, perfectly created all the custom fashions designs you see us wearing in the video. Bryan Griffin directed, shot, and filmed a masterpiece of photography. Eddie Nicols, one of new york city best cinematographic film editors, has put together a visual thrill ride with all these feelings and elements that embody and celebrate the art form and culture of fashion.
The song came about after I was named as one of the Downtown100 -an annual who’s who of NYC social movers and shakers decided upon by legend, writer and pop culture analyst George Wayne of Vanity Fair Magazine. Who also has a cameo in our FASHION music video. He will be hosting our media screening for the video at a hot spot in NYC. So you gotta totally attend that Corey, wink. I’m so excited to have all these fantastic people in my life, I feel like Cinderella at the ball. It’s crazy, but I keep thinking, when is my ride gonna turn back into a pumpkin? But you know what, While I’m wearing my ball gown, I’m gonna bloody enjoy every minute of it.
CA: Tell me, what does pride mean to you?
AP: PRIDE means LOVE. If you can’t love yourself, then don’t ever think that anyone can ever truly love you. Very simple. If you can’t surrender, learn, and accept all that you are, then you are not living in truth. It takes a journey, and that’s fine. We all will get there in the end.
CA: So what’s next for Aaron Paul?
AP: Well, I feel like I’m only starting. I have so so much buzzing in my brain as we speak; ideas, projects, platforms. I have this FASHION song with Montgomery, which is making way for my album DANCE, and all the other singles on it. I have the duets I did with Doctor Dre and Michael Musto. Those collaborations will have their moment too.
I wanna keep creating and working with great people, like my ‘Angel’ friend, an incredible NYC visual artist, and photographer, ‘Luciana Pampalone’ who is just beautiful inside and out and to whom I owe a lot of what’s happening in my life now. I absorb from people like her, and The Montgomery Frazier’s of the world. I will learn from these master painters of life, beauty, and style and KEEP GROWING, and stay true to myself, with whatever my little heart desires to do. And hopefully with a few extra coins in my pocket too, lol. #ItsFASHIONdahlings / Click to follow Aaron Paul and download his music.
Aaron Paul Featuring “TheImageGuru” Montgomery Frazier -FASHION #itsFASHIONdahlings”