Paper Diamond ~ Class Act

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Alexander Botwin, better known as Paper Diamond started out as a bassist for the dance music Pnuma Trio in 2004 before becoming an owner of a record label, design company and store owner under the name Elm & Oak in downtown Boulder, Colorado. After Pnuma Trio he began his solo career as a DJ under the name Alex B which has become Paper Diamond as of 2011.

I sat down with Paper Diamond after his EDC Las Vegas show on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

FestPop:   

All right. We’re at EDC 2014. And I am with Paper Diamond

Paper Diamond:   

What up. It’s Paper Diamond.

FestPop:    

Paper Diamond and I was… You just… You just got off stage right?

Paper Diamond:      

Yeah. I played the main stage. It was an honor to be invited back and to play such a monstrosity of a stage and…

FestPop:   

How many years?

Paper Diamond:  

This is my second time playing.

FestPop:     

Second time. So compare last year and this year?

Paper Diamond:     

Uh, yeah. It’s just completely different.

FestPop:  

Completely… By.. Getting more people?

Paper Diamond

Yeah. I mean, I think… It was definitely an earlier set during the night but just getting to play and hear my music played on such a monstrous system, just, it was amazing.

FestPop:

Nice. So obviously you were at a music festival tonight so first music festival when you were a kid.

Paper Diamond:    

Wow.

FestPop:    

How old were you and who did you see… Who was in the line-up?

Paper Diamond:     

My dad started taking me to concerts when I was like,  eight years old.

FestPop:   

Not concert. It has got to be a music festival.

Paper Diamond:      

I would say probably, when I was in college, my college was right next to Bonnaroo and I went to that every year.

FestPop:    

Nice. What college did you go to?

Paper Diamond:      

Middle Tennessee State University.

FestPop:   

Nice. What was your major?

Paper Diamond:  

Uh… music.

FestPop: 

Music.

Paper Diamond:     

Yeah. Yep.

FestPop:       

Nice.

Paper Diamond:

Yeah so I was going to Bonnaroo every year just as a fan and actually it’s funny because  some of the other festivals, like, I started a band and then I saw some of the festival promoters handing out fliers for Camp Bisco  and I went up to him and I gave  him a press kid. This was before Facebook and MySpace and all that and my first band. I gave him a press kit and I was like, “You have to book this. You have to book this.” And so they ended up  booking us and so that was like, from them on we got in….

FestPop:   

Very cool. You remember Wind Up? That first… That first festival you went to?

Paper Diamond:     

I mean, that was four days of madness I would say. It’s kind of hard to remember.

FestPop:   

Okay. What year? I could always look it up.

Paper Diamond: 

2004…Yeah 5.

Paper Diamond:  

Yeah The Roots. Yeah. There’s a bunch of… I grew  up a musician so I was always in a bunch of different stuff.  Like all the genres.

FestPop:      

What’s your… What’s your instrument… instrument?

Paper Diamond:     

I play a lot of instruments. I guess bass guitar would be my main. That’s what I was always playing in bands but I play piano, I play drums, I know how to use a turntables, scratch and all that. I can…

FestPop:  

Nice. So , Geddy Lee a base hero?

Paper Diamond:    

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

FestPop:      

So that’s a good segue in terms of other genres of music. Like, what do you listen too? Like…

Paper Diamond: 

I listen to everything. I’m like… I… I stay listening to what’s new on Soundcloud, I listen to all of the stuff like all the new rap so… Electronic music. I listen to all the up-and-coming producers on Soundcloud.

FestPop:       

Yeah.

Paper Diamond:  

I really dig that. I listen to different bands like, I love Little Dragon, um,  stuff like that.

FestPop:   

Anyone you want to collaborate with that would be kind of cool?

Paper Diamond: 

Honestly I’ve been working on stuff with some rappers like, for example I got invited to go down and visit Big Boi at his studio from Outkast and just different people like that.

FestPop:   

Nice.

Paper Diamond:   

So it’s a… It’s been inspiring to not only work on electronic music but try and bridge the bag between all the other…

FestPop:    

Those guys are on the music festival circuit.

Paper Diamond:    

They are. Yes. They are.

FestPop:      

So other like, festivals that you would go… When you’re not touring and you got your buddies,  like, “Dude, we got to check out this music festival.” What…

Paper Diamond:      

Yeah. Obviously I love Electric Forest.

FestPop:   

That’s next weekend.

Paper Diamond:    

Yeah. I’m doing that. I’m doing Paradiso this week. I’m doing Tomorrowland both weekends in Belgium.

FestPop:    

But as a fan though.

Paper Diamond:    

Yeah as a fan.

FestPop:       

As a fan.

Paper Diamond:    

Electric Forest is amazing. I love it.

FestPop:   

Nice.

Paper Diamond:      

I love it. Actually…

I didn’t even play there and I still went.

FestPop:     

That’s awesome.

Paper Diamond:    

So… And I ended up doing like, a secret show on the beach just to like throw a show but…

FestPop:   

Man.  We got the press credentials for that and I wasn’t going to go but now that you said that, you endorsed that.

Paper Diamond:  

It’s amazing. It’s amazing and yeah, honestly, I love playing music so everyone… And seeing stuff… And seeing all kinds of different stuff, I basically am like, a sponge. You know, I get… I take all these different inspirations

Paper Diamond:      

Other artists I would like to play with?

FestPop:       

Yeah. Like in a hypothetical, Vegas, end of the world, it’s EDC and you get to pick one DJ that you want to jam with.

FestPop:     

And that just goes with who you respect.

Paper Diamond:  

Yeah. Diplo  probably.

FestPop:      

Nice. Okay. Very cool. Yeah. Let me get to a couple of more. Let’s see, musical family, right?

Paper Diamond:   

Yeah.

FestPop:      

So like, Mom and Dad, brother and sister are all musical?

Paper Diamond: 

Yeah. My mom on piano, my Dad played trumpet and he was really like, they started me on violin when I was four years old.

FestPop:   

Really?

Paper Diamond:     

And I started playing guitar and bass drum when I was 12 or 13. So he was always really supportive with playing music.

FestPop:     

Okay. So this is a good one. The first turn… tune you learned. Either… You said bass or whatever…

Paper Diamond:      

Smoke On The Water.

FestPop:  

Smoke On The Water. That’s awesome.

Paper Diamond:   

And it was actually crazy. I played the Spring Awakening Festival last weekend in Soldier Field in Chicago…

FestPop:   

Yeah.

Paper Diamond:      

And it was my Dad’s 56th birthday  and I actually got to bring him on stage. He didn’t know I was going to do it but I pulled him out…

FestPop:    

Yeah.

Paper Diamond:    

I brought him on stage, like, the crowd freaked out.

FestPop:  

You know I saw… Because a lot of parents, right, they say “Hey Mom and Dad, I’m going to try and be a DJ” and you get all of this negative talk trash. So how did you… Do you have like a really good support group? Like your  family and friends?

Paper Diamond:      

They basically… When I stopped going to college when I was 19, they said they weren’t going to give me any money for anything I was doing. I was basically cut off.

FestPop:   

Yeah.

Paper Diamond: 

And I’ve never asked them for anything since. So it’s just… You know, I was a band called Pnuma and we’ve just  started touring and playing all the festivals and I really haven’t stopped since. I’ve been doing the Paper Diamond thing for about three years now.

FestPop: 

Yeah.

Paper Diamond:      

Three and a half years….

FestPop:    

How many… How many shows a year?

Paper Diamond:   

I’ve been working the whole year. I don’t know if I… 5 or 6 days…

FestPop:       

100, 150 level yet?

Paper Diamond:    

Yeah. I mean, last year I did seven months on a tour bus pretty much straight.

FestPop:      

Nice.

Paper Diamond:    

And that’s not even including festivals and all that stuff, Europe and everything else so…

FestPop:    

European festivals…

Paper Diamond: 

Yes.

FestPop:   

Actually this goes into any like, which festival would you love to play at that you haven’t been invited to yet?

Paper Diamond:   

That I haven’t been… I’d like to go to Glastonbury. That’s where I want to go.

FestPop:   

Yeah.

Paper Diamond: 

I’m so excited to be a part of Tomorrowland this year. And just like…

FestPop:    

For sure. For sure.

Paper Diamond:  

Yeah. It’s the first time. It’s two weekends so…

FestPop:  

Yeah. It’s the… I think that is definitely… Yeah Tomorrowland, then you got EDC.

Paper Diamond:     

Yeah.

FestPop:     

In terms of just, you know, size and you know, just production and the location.

Paper Diamond:      

And it’s two weekends so I’m going to get to be in Belgium and touring around London for a studio session.

FestPop:      

Off the wall question. Do you teach music?

Paper Diamond:      

I have taught music production. I started this thing called Elm and Oak Academy and it was basically a way for musicians, managers, agents, artistic people… We had open table conversations on campus at  C.U. Boulder.

FestPop:     

Yeah.

Paper Diamond:     

So it was really kind of one of the first student groups that wasn’t owned by the school to get funding. So we did a few lessons with that and then I’ve been touring so much we haven’t really been able to continue much this year  but it’s definitely something I’d like to re-instate in the future.

 

FestPop

Check out Paper Diamond this weekend at Electric Forest http://festpop.com/festival/Electric-Forest

Paper Diamond Official Website: http://www.paper-diamond.com/

 

 

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