Paul Roth admitted that his latest single, “L.A.” is his first inspired by TV, but if we’re being honest – we hope it’s not his last. We talked about where that inspo came from, what it’s like being an Australian in the Hong Kong music scene, and more in this international back and forth.
Kendra: Was there a particular song or album that initially inspired you to get into music?
Paul Roth: I remember being young and always wanting to listen to music, always getting up on weekends to watch the countdowns. I can’t pin down any particular song or album, but No Doubt’s ‘Tragic Kingdom’ was the first I ever bought and played to no end.
Kendra: You played in a number of bands before this. What sparked your interest in pursuing solo music?
Paul Roth: I’ve always wanted to do solo music actually but to be totally honest, I think playing in bands is a bit easier in terms of courage. Putting out stuff as a solo artist can feel really exposing without having other band members to go along with or hide behind. But there are also so many reasons I love playing in bands which I wouldn’t want to give up either, like building something together with different influences, having fun and achieving things together and also just variety.
Kendra: We got ‘Remember This’ from you, but now you’re going the single route. Do you feel like there is less pressure releasing singles?
Paul Roth: Yeah, I think it just makes more sense now, so much music is going out there, which overall is great, but it makes it harder to catch attention or keep it. Releasing songs one at a time allows that more constant flow of content as opposed to an album drop. It also does relieve pressure because you know that it’s a much easier process to get to your next release, ha. I do plan though to re-release as an album later with some bonus content though as I think there are still loads of people that love to sit and listen to a continuous album.
Kendra: Your latest single, “L.A” is a song that I would say is universal, but I feel like many don’t put the other person’s feelings first during a breakup. With that, what do you feel is the first sign that a relationship isn’t going to work out?
Paul Roth: Wow getting deep, ha. I think if there is not mutual supportiveness or genuinely wanting what is best for each other. Also when values and beliefs don’t match up. These are a bit more telling and a bit more core to the kind of relationship or life you want to build.
Kendra: “L.A.” was inspired by the hit series ‘Californication.’ Are you always inspired by the small screen?
Paul Roth: Actually, this is the only song I’ve ever written like this. I did one about a movie once but I didn’t like it enough to record it. I actually got the idea from the singer in the band I’m in, Esimorp, and one of the songs from our album ‘Roar Like The Ocean’ (#shamelessplug) is called “Paris,” based on the movie ‘Midnight in Paris.’ It was kind of a game-changer in that when I’m not feeling all that inspired then there is this whole plethora of stories out there that I can connect with to actually use. There is some part of the song based on real-life but more just for imagery.
Kendra: Originally from Australia and now in Hong Kong. What were some of the major differences in the music scenes in each that you noticed right away?
Paul Roth: I think the scene in Hong Kong is a little bit more scattered in a way. There is the Canto-pop and Canto-rock scene, which is extremely impressive what they have achieved for such a globally small population. Then the indie scenes which is a little hard to have full cohesion with different language barriers and then also a lot of cover bands. There is a bit less crossover between these scenes than in Australia, which has positives and negatives. It is easier to get into the scene and build up a network but a bit harder to pursue a range of opportunities.
In that though, being just the one city, there is a real enthusiasm to support the local scene here and so there are a few organisations, venues and people that do all they can to cultivate that.
Mobility, however, is another thing. Hong Kong being just a city-state means that any form of tour is always going to require a border crossing and likely a flight.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Paul Roth: Yeah, of course, it’s a bit hard to really set down anything concrete but for me this year it’s recording and getting songs out. I’m pushing myself in self-producing and mixing so there’s loads of learning in that but yeah gigs are a bit less of certainty at the moment.
For a song, this can change so much depending on the mood but what never fails is the ‘Go Farther In Lightness’ album by Gang of Youths, and ‘Persevere’ from that album is always a brilliant song for hard times.