We had the good fortune of connecting with Sam Paul and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sam, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I spent five years working for myself as a music teacher/freelancer — I think I hoped that avoiding a “regular” job would force me to be more actively involved in my music. But a little over a year ago I started working for a giant corporation, and even though the work itself is considerably more like a weight on my chest, the security that it provides has been important, and recently I’ve felt as productive as I’ve felt in a long time. Existing is pretty hard. Unfortunately, it’s probably significantly more difficult when you don’t have reliable income and health insurance etc. Sometimes it’s cool make art from a place of being extremely financially insecure, like the art is your only anchor, and without it you might literally die. But also sometimes you turn 30 and have like a breakdown or two and you get a day job. And maybe that’s okay too.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve always been able to lock into my own “voice.” I can usually value what I want over what other people want, and I have practiced finding the concrete, real-life oddness and images where I think other people might go with Kohl’s inspirational wall decor. When you write for yourself, as yourself, and you recognize that there are ways to say things that are more true to you than all the cliches you grew up with — I think you’ll automatically be set apart a little. Because no one else is you. HOWEVER — that doesn’t necessarily equal monetary/conventional success. I’ve been lucky to have people who are supportive of me making odd artistic choices. Maybe making idiosyncratic art is its own terribly insufficient reward.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend were visiting Colorado, and they weren’t already intimately familiar with Colorado, I would make them hang out with me in the dumb parts of Aurora, where I grew up. I like shitty dive bars, and if you’re going to be best friends with me, you probably like them too. Maybe we can pop downtown for like a night or two. Mostly I want to go to dimly lit dives filled with old people.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shon Howard is the best guitar teacher. I’ve been taking lessons with him for literally 15 years, and I owe a ton of my musical growth to him. He was one of the first people to believe in my songs. If you need guitar lessons, please take them from him.
Matt Howshar, Bianca West