The elegant Sloe Paul returns with a new record, Remote. A charming LP that is equally romantic and platonic that touches on the many forms of Love. Manipulating various forms of sequences with ethereal soundscapes, Sloe Paul is the experimental solo project of bedroom recording artist Paul Abbrecht – a prolific musician that participates in the Stuttgart DIY punk scene. Abbrecht expands on his edgy pop-side as he enchants us with an inner dreamworld.
Playing in bands and formations of manyfold genres and natures, being a session musician and producer for a longer time, Sloe Paul debuted with Paul Abbrecht’s Album’ as a solo artist in 2018 on Treibender Teppich Records’. The bedroom produced record is a bag full of funky glam. A collaborative single release with Peter Muffin’ slides further into a charming cocktail of disco-soul, psych-wave and dream-pop all merged together in Paul’s offbeat compositions and extraordinary play of a huge variety of instruments. With his latest single releases he established more profound themes and textures in his work. Still the tracks are not necessarily dark and heavy, but rather playful and somewhat odd. The release of a second album is announced for early 2021 on Treibender Teppich Records’ and Intrnt Explrr’.
Sloe Paul plays live as a five-piece band featuring Marius Schwingel on bass, Marcus Schreiter on guitar, Moses Alsleben on guitar, vocals & keys, Tim Bohner on drums and Paul Abbrecht on vocals and keys.
From across the world, Abbrecht and I got to discuss characteristics, experiences, and history that helped fuel this record. Check out what Sloe Paul said.
Hey Sloe Paul, I’m glad we are able to do this interview. Very excited to pick your brain about your recent release, Remote. Let’s start with the basics: Introduce yourself / yourselves and the position(s) you / y’all play?
Thanks for the interview!
Sloe Paul is my solo project. I basically write and record all the music myself. Nevertheless, there are other people involved. I’ve been backed up by a wonderful band from the start, and it is a joy for me to play the songs of the album together with my closest friends.
Remote prominently features Vitiko Schell and Veyls Mâneyr, but also members of the bands and the stars of Stuttgart underground scene. It was mixed by Max Rieger and mastered by Enyang Urbiks. Both developed a close cooperation and clearly shaped the sound of the album. From consulting over the graphic design to the preparation of releasing my music via Triebender Teppich Records and Intrnt Explrr – both projects that are operated by friends, – a large part of gratitude is due to my music community. I’m super grateful for this!
I learned that you did most of the recording in your bedroom. Is that true? If so, what did you use and what was your primary setup?
That’s partly true, I recorded my first record as Sloe Paul in my room of my shared apartment in Stuttgart. When I moved out of my hometown, I suddenly needed a way to play music by myself. I also really got into synthesizers and music production, so I started building up a little home studio with a Microkorg, an old organ, and so on.
At first, the songs I wrote weren’t meant for the outside world, and certainly not for an album release. However, the encouragement of a close friend convinced me to release music as Sloe Paul.
I always played in bands and had access to different rehearsal rooms. The main reason for writing at home was because it was a safe space. I was able to do anything I wanted, especially some romantic pop tracks that I thought would only lead to eye-rolls in the punky DIY scene in Stuttgart.
When I moved to Leipzig, where I recorded most of Remote, I realized I couldn’t work in my room as confident as I used to. I got distracted all the time, so I quickly moved into a studio with my now label-mates Balcony DC. That change was a big step for me and the album. Having a drum kit mic-ed up all the time, lots of amps, and anything I needed was great. But most of all, having a schedule and designated recording day helped a lot.
To the technical point: I record digital into Ableton.
I completely understand what you mean by having a new workspace. It’s always important to find a space that facilitates inspiration and cultivates productive energy. It seems like the space had a lot to do with the beginning, but how did Remote start? When did it start?
It’s hard to say. Early versions of some tracks date back to 2017. This was before the release of my first record, and I just continuously wrote songs since then. Though a real starting point was my move to Leipzig. I intended to follow a certain sound: real drums and folky guitar. This plan only lasted for some tracks, but it was the beginning of planning a second record.
The tracks have a very elegant sound – like a fantasy dreamworld. I hear a lot of pop and soft neo-R&B, but at the same time, there’s indie and clashy dream-pop. What were you listening to? What was inspiring you to write in this fashion?
I’m not a constant music listener, but of course my musical identity feeds itself from a long and diverse list of bands and artists that are very special to me. And clearly my own writing was and is influenced by acts I see live or listen to. Also, I’m fortunate enough to have great explorers and collectors as friends who provide great music even in corona times even though my own energy to discover new stuff is super low.
When it comes to the influences for Sloe Paul, I picture an odd encounter like of Steely Dan, Ariel Pink, and Sting. All those are artists that I’ve listened to a lot. They have shown me that pop music doesn’t have to be straight forward or even pleasing. I won’t deny that I get ideas from specific tracks out of records, out of YouTube videos, and so on. But clearly when it comes to arranging and playing, in particular singing, my background is the bigger part. I played jazz trumpet in jam sessions from age 12. I also sang in choir for over ten years. My parents house was full of music for as long as I could remember. It was the main thing I cared about.
It seems as if you were directly inspired by your surroundings, and the music community and sound were around you at all times. I could only imagine how inspiring or motivating the people around you can be even when you weren’t thinking about sound and music.
Also, I really loved the synth work. I enjoyed the dramatic layering and the embellishments. What synths were used in this production and why?
Sometimes I get inspired by gear. Other times, overthinking of gear makes things too complicated. I guess this is the case for most musicians. The obsession for synths and studio gear lead me to have some cool stuff, especially my drive to hunt down a good bargain helps increase my nice collection. I also shared and borrowed equipment a lot. This gave me a realistic idea of what I need and what I don’t.
Some of the Keys I used for Remote are the Roland JX3P and Juno 106, Yamaha DX7, Moog MG1, and Fender Rhodes. But most frequently used was my friend’s Nord Electro.
I’m heavily inspired by synth and keyboard sounds of the past: the classics of AOR, Disco, and Electronica. I instantly feel a deep connection to these special sounds, and that often determines in what direction a track will be going.
On the other hand, chord progressions and songwriting is more important to me. Mentally, my go-to starting sound is met with the phrase “how could it be any different with a Rhodes.”
Remote sounds very romantically sensitive. At first listen, I thought it was immediately about loving a person, but then it made me feel that it was about loving in general. What is the album about?
As I said, some of the songs were written relatively far apart from each other. The album is not a unity in that respect. Of course, there are themes that have always been of central importance to me and that also appeared in the last album.
Yes, love, but not only romantic love, plays a big role. Again and again, my dreams become the content of my songs. So many tracks are telling of my experiences and feelings I have lived through, but it is rarely completely clear. I sometimes catch myself giving new meaning to old lyrics, and that’s how I rediscover some of my songs.
Remote is not a concept album. Somehow, every song finds its way to fit into the album and that’s what it is. In the song ,L’Amour De L’Escargot’, I wanted to address the sexual life of the snail. I read about it and found it absolutely fascinating. I wanted to find out what conclusions about attribution and normativity can be drawn from it. But it can certainly also be understood as an eroticised love song.
That specific example makes me think of the song differently. I can see what you’re saying now and I actually googled the sexual life of a snail to see what you meant by that. I thoroughly enjoyed learning that. I wonder what that means for the message of the album as a whole. Is there a specific message that you’re trying to impart?
(I didn’t say anything about the album here but some personal messages)
The fuss about social media, digital promo, and so on really depressed me in 2020. In this way of thinking, you are so dependent on the number of clicks and reactions. It was incredibly important to play at least one concert with the band last year and realize. This is the promotion I want to do. And now, I have to be patient.
There are so many things that are unpleasant and unfair in the music industry. At the moment, this is more noticeable than ever before. My answer to that is to return to the small structures – the personal level.
Since we don’t even need to talk about fair payment of spotify clicks, then we need to talk about a good subsidize concept, so this “off-culture” (lack of shows) in particular doesn’t go completely down the drain. It is necessary to stand up for this and – as soon as this is possible again – to take to the streets!
The release of Remote was originally planned for October 2020. The whole thing has kept me on hold. When you carry this album around like an unborn child for so long, it’s hard to focus on something new. But that only applies to Sloe Paul.
Now, I will have more time for other projects and bands. I have another release coming up this year with my band Yum Yum Club. I also used the year without concerts to set up a recording studio together with my friends.
Most of all, I’m looking forward to being on stage with my band again and I hope that our favourite clubs will make it till then!
First of all, kisses to my dear Wenke. With her everything becomes more beautiful!
As you can tell, there are really a lot of people involved in Sloe Paul and they all do special projects of their own: Greets to Timbo, Mari, Moses, & Marcus! Thanks to Billy, Markus, and Tim, who have the most amazing labels. Also, thanks to Initiative Musik for partly taking over the production costs for the album.
I could go on. Feels so good to be surrounded by good friends in everything I do and that I don’t have to lose hope even in such a difficult time.