Photo By : Paul Salvatore Petersen
It feels like just yesterday when we were featuring SIRPAULon the first This Beat Is Poptronik compilation. A couple years later and a whole lot naughtier. We had to know what is up with everyone’s favourite royal. So we got intimate with the master of aural seduction before the release of his latest album Intimate Science due out 7 June. Letting us in on what makes him tick, the story behind the new album and even why he likes to press some buttons, check out what SIRPAUL had to say below!
EQ Music: You’ve talked about the working on Intimate Science for a couple years now, what makes this album so special that it required the extra attention?
SIRPAUL: The best part of being an independent artist is that I do not have to answer to anyone. I can take my time with each project and really allow myself to shape it into the exact kind of statement I choose to make, at any given time. I wanted to experiment with this album because my life was changing rapidly, right before my own eyes. I was starting to live a bicoastal life, I was traveling so much, I never even knew where I was waking up and I was finally able to devote the time I needed to create my art when I was at home in LA with no distractions. For once I didn’t have to compromise anything due to time constraints. I hope it shows!
When the album drops in June, what do you think the fans can expect out of this latest phase in the SIRPAUL musical journey? How do you feel like your sound has evolved over your 18 years in the music field?
My #ROYALS can always expect something sensual, but this time it’s a lot more personal. If you really read into the lyrics, you can tell that I’m sharing a lot more with my fans than I have in a long time. Over the course of my 18 years in the music industry (WOW! It’s been that long???) of course, I feel that my sound has evolved, but I actually think, more than anything, my sound has become more identifiable. I make electropop. I’m unapologetic about it because it’s certainly not an easy task to use the computer as an instrument and make it feel natural and real in so many ways. On another level, I have no rules or limitations set for myself anymore – just to be as authentic to my own sense of self-expression as I can be.
As we’ve pointed out prior, a lot of your sound is very “naughty” in nature. What for you was the catalyst to experiment with what could be considered taboo?
I like to push buttons and I also don’t feel the need to feel ashamed for being a sexual human being. We all are here on this earth because of sex… it’s such a normal, natural thing, so I find it odd that it’s the one thing that make so many people uncomfortable. I don’t mind making people uncomfortable. I actually quite enjoy it. It says so much more about the other person’s lack of self-confidence than it says about me.
Another theme that you cover very heavily through Intimate Science is love in general. What for you makes love such a powerful inspiration when writing your music?
Love is something I honestly never thought I would find. If you go back to my earliest work, like ‘Switch’, you can hear that I was dating all the wrong people. It took a long time to find a love like I have with my husband, and I have learned a lot about how sacred that is. Instead of talking about it, I just prefer to put it into my music. Some people think we have some unrealistic, “fairytale romance” … and we can’t even try live up to that standard. We are just two people who happened to be fortunate enough to have had the guts to bear our souls to one another and the other person was kind enough to stay. I still wake up every morning SHOCKED that he hasn’t run for the hills! haha!!
Speaking of love, for your promo shots that the fans will see in the booklet your hubby Paul Salvatore Petersen takes over the creative lens. How is it working so close with your husband? Who really wears the creative pants in the household?
Yeah, it was an interesting experience working with my husband Paul on the promo shots for Intimate Science. He has a photography background and he knew that my vision was clear and that he could execute it flawlessly. The problem is that he cracks me THE FUCK UP, so it’s very hard to stay serious, ESPECIALLY when we are shooting video. I wanted to strangle him.
In the past you’ve written music for other artists. Most of them seem to have a similar aesthetic in sound whilst others may be pushing boundaries. How does your creative dynamic change in regards to penning music for others rather than yourself?
I rarely like to write for other artists. I’m honestly too self-absorbed creatively. I get all wrapped up in my own head and I need to be all alone in order to work. So, when I’m working with another artist, I try to put myself in their shoes and imagine that I am them. It’s a strange experience, but it’s really the only way it can work.
This time around you really pull no punches in the sensual realm. Recently you dropped the single for ‘Intimate’, it comes off very Madonna like in its sound. What inspired the single? What is the story behind it?
‘Intimate’ was actually one of the last songs I recorded for the album. I was listening through an (at that point) 20-track, body of work saying to myself – “for an album that is going to be called Intimate Science, this album is waaaaay too fast paced.” I chose to just let myself experiment with some slower paced beats… definitely in the head of Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’ and ‘Erotica’, that very sensual, 90’s kind of head. I’m not at all surprised that you picked up on that influence because it was quite intentional. As far as the story behind it goes, I was just thinking about how I like to approach flirtation and how much confidence comes in to play when you want someone in your bed. I think it’s important to be pretty straightforward.
‘Intimate’ is quite a naughty little bit. You’ve been known to not give a **** when it comes to censorship in the video department. What are your plans, if any to turn ‘Intimate’ into a visual production? Could you let us into any secret plans?
I’ll keep this brief, because there are no concrete plans that I can confirm, but my husband and I shot some ‘Intimate’ footage together one day. Nothing explicit, but just literally kind of intimate. Like sides of me that were a lot less “staged” … we then sent them off to my friend Dirk (formerly of House of XY) and I said “here’s some footage we shot. Have fun and play with it. Let’s see what you come up with.” …there isn’t anything I can reveal just YET, so who knows? We might all be quite happily surprised!
In the album there is quite a standout single by the name of ‘Fighter.’ By veering away from your more seductive sound; ‘Fighter’ sounds like you have yourself a bit of an empowerment anthem on your hands. Can you tell us how this song came about?
I wrote ‘Fighter’ about how sometimes, when people think they are protecting you by loving you soo hard it almost feels suffocating, they are actually keeping you from fearlessly flying as high as you can. I feel that concern and protection from loved ones can both help and hurt you professionally. That’s what that song is about. It doesn’t matter how many times I get knocked down, I will ALWAYS get back up and keep fighting. This life is mine. No one else is calling the shots but ME.
There are a lot of special stand out tracks on this album. It also seems like it may be the album that could be closest to your heart at the moment. What to you is your favorite track off this album and why?
It is the album that is closest to my heart at the moment. I’m going through so much change right now and this album has comforted me in so many ways. I fall asleep some nights listening to it softly in my headphones, because I need a sense of familiarity when things seem so up in the air and all over the place. I can’t pick just one favorite song, but two songs on the album that are very special to me are ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Million Miles’ because they are so honest and raw. It’s kind of refreshing to allow yourself to come clean and give yourself some tough love and a swift kick in the ass every once in a while.
Madonna. Without her, there probably wouldn’t be a lot of artists in the electro pop world. You wrap up the album with your own version of the 1983 hit off her debut album ‘Physical Attraction.’ We have to know, what made ‘Physical Attraction’ the Madonna track to cover versus any other of her songs?
Well, ‘Physical Attraction’ has always been one of my favorite Madonna songs and she is obviously a huge influence of mine. I chose to do a cover of this song for Madonna Worship Night in NYC last year and the response was INSANE. It just fit so well with the other tracks I was including on the album so I thought, if I’m gonna do a cover song, this one is a perfect fit.
You haven’t really released many, if any, covers at all over your career. Yet, with ‘Physical Attraction’ you completely transformed the song. How do you approach re-inventing a track with such an iconic status? What did you find the most challenging aspect of a cover?
I felt like I was able to make it my own without taking anything away from the original version. I kept some of the original elements and brought them into the foreground and some other elements I completely disregarded. If you don’t make it your own, it’s just karaoke… I don’t do karaoke.
The most exciting thing for the #Royal family is that when an album comes out, there is no doubt there maybe shows in the works. Do you happen to have any live shows coming up? If so where can the #Royals catch you in the flesh?
The album is coming out on June 7th so, immediately following the release I’m going to go see my Huntsville #ROYALS and perform at their Pride celebration that is organized by my friend James Robinson at Free2Be. They are such a special part of my life… people have no idea how hard you have to work to get an Alabama Pride Festival to have 5,000 people in attendance. I’m so proud of all of my friends there, standing up in the face of adversity and giving the bigots and haters a nice big middle finger, while they say “Bless your heart…” THEY ROCK! Then I’m going to be performing in my home town of NYC at a show with Parralox at Rockbar on August 8th! It’s our first time working together (other than remixing each other’s work) so we are both really excited. I’ll be touring all this year and next year, so keep your eyes locked on my social media and sirpaul.com for more dates as they are released.
Word on the street is that you’ve got a couple remixes for the album singles in the works, what can you tell us about that?
The remixes for ‘Intimate’ just came out on iTunes and they feature incredible interpretations from some of my favorite artists such as Division 4, Parralox, Obra Primitiva, Keven Maroda and yours truly 😉 It’s a very 90’s kind of remix EP with everything from ballroom house, to 90’s piano house to Sound Factory tribal to Enigma-esque downtempo versions. I’m so happy with the collection!
With a big leap into 2016, what does the remainder of the year hold for you? What can your beloved #Royals expect?
You can expect me to continue to give you everything you deserve for being loyal royalty. I had to take a longer break than I had anticipated, but you are going to be getting the absolute best from me this time around- shows in cities where I have never performed before, remixes by amazing artists I haven’t worked with and music videos & photo shoots that will be completely different than anything you’ve seen from me before. I think we know each other well enough now…