Pnuma's Alex B on Paper Diamond and moving in new, more complex directions with his music
Alex B is no stranger to the electronic scene. The producer has been making music since he was nineteen. A member of Pnuma, he first started making music on his own as Paper Diamond. That project, which is signed to the Pretty Lights Music imprint, became increasingly popular without him even really trying to put it out there, he says.
"I hadn't even thought of a moniker or an idea of what I was specifically going for," he recalls. "So when the name hit me and the concept and it was actually something I considered running with, I just dove into it. I had already considered making a more dance-oriented record. So it just kind of worked everything together, and it was a nice outlet for me to come out with something new."
And people clearly seem to like it. We caught up with Alex B in advance of Paper Diamond's show at the Bluebird tomorrow night and chatted about the new moniker and how Paper Diamond differs from his previous endeavors.
Westword: What is the significance of the new moniker?
Alex B: Basically it's just a new direction -- but what it means is to take something simple and make something complex. I see it as taking the music and starting simple and building layer after layer, building it into something complex but still keeping it simple. That's how it feels regarding the music.
That's where the idea came from. And artistically, I've been getting all these artists and designers. I've been showcasing all these artists, and it's a great way to get the word out about all these artists and make it not just about me, not attached to me as a person.
So how would you say Paper Diamond differs from your previous projects?
It's not really that much different. I'm still working with friends and making the music, and a lot of the stuff -- during Pnuma, I was still making music on my own, but we would bring it together and work as a group. I enjoy the process now a lot, and getting it to sound exactly as I want it to sound. And the live sounds are really fun.
The new music and the direction I'm taking it, I'm getting a really good response. The music I was making before was more headphone music, more downtempo and relaxed, so for me to go out and make music that's more danceable and more fun has just been really fun for me and really fun for the audience.
Is that what you were aiming for -- more club-friendly music?
I think that what you're saying is true, it is more club-friendly, and in all regards, it's more show-friendly. And that wasn't my initial intention; it's just what I felt like doing. I'm still making the downtempo stuff. I have a record label that I run with a partner of mine, it's called Elm and Oak, and we're currently working with other hip-hop artists and beatmakers, so I'm still making that stuff.
But I'm working on building a repertoire of music from Paper Diamond, specifically. I'm still making downtempo music at the same time that I do Paper Diamond. I'm making a bunch of new stuff that's stuff I intend on putting out on Paper Diamond right now, and I'm going to continue to stack tracks that I can continue to put out as Alex B. I just want to compile what's fun for me right now.
What kind of feedback have you gotten so far?
A lot more people are into it. Even some of my college friends who came to my show over New Year's were like, "We've always liked your music, but this is on a whole nother level." I restarted all the profiles of my online presence, and they're all back up above where my initial ones were, and I only started that like three or four months ago. People are going to it; they're checking out the new music. It's also a lot easier for me to put out content and the music and videos we want to get out because there's a clear path. I know what I want to do with the project and what kind of music I'm working on.
So what's in store for the future of Paper Diamond?
I definitely am just going to keep moving with whatever feels right and trying to craft my own custom sound, and I think people who listen to this will be able to tell that a lot of the tonalities and ideas are similar to my previous work, and you can kind of hear that I made it, even though it's a little bit of a difference. So in three to five years, I don't know where it's going to be. It's already been taking off so quickly.
And with the help of people like Pretty Lights -- who's been so supportive of putting out my release -- we have some big plans for the second EP, which I'm already working on right now, and talking about the record after that, and all the artistic ideas after that. He's working on his record up in New York, but all the wheels are in motion to continue to put this stuff out. This summer, I'm going to be at a whole lot of festivals, and I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm excited to see where it goes.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I put out a remix recently -- I think it was three weeks ago now -- and in the first three weeks, it had almost 90,000 plays. So that's kind of crazy. The music is all free, and you can check out the videos. There's going to be a whole bunch of dates coming up, and a whole bunch of shows and festivals, and we're going to keep putting out new EPs -- I have some really cool ideas for the next upcoming. And Friday, we're going all-out on the production at the Bluebird. It's gonna be crazy.