Interview: Paultra Violet – I LEFT YOU IN RUSSIA and more

What began as emailed demos between actor Joey Palestina (HBO’s We Own This City) and composer Spencer Miles (Space Fight) during the height of the 2020 pandemic, soon became a project too thick to sleep in desktop files.

What first got you into music?

My parents. We lived in an apartment in Newark, New Jersey. They would play The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bowie, Miles Davis and Talking Heads records, to name a few. I specifically remember sliding/dancing on hardwood floors in my bedroom to Get Around by The Beach Boys until my legs gave out. I’d make my own music videos (without a camera) to songs. I was five. That’s when it all started.

Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a musician.

Creating a song from scratch with Spencer (my creative partner) is my favorite. When the song is still a secret. Before it’s polished. Before we add more musicians. Before it’s properly mixed, mastered and sent into the waves. Those early demos, that’s my favorite. And of course: playing live. Especially small dingy clubs and house parties. My least favorite…ehh…I don’t think I have a least favorite anymore. But probably the rejection aspect, of course. Although when you’re a 41 year old cross-platform artist as I am, you’re no stranger to rejection. As an actor. A writer. A musician. A comedian. It’s all part of it…and it’s an important part of it. Every no thanks I get motivates me to write five more songs.

Your latest songs are ‘I WILL FIND YOUR HEART, I LEFT YOU IN RUSSIA, HONESTLY I ALWAYS KNEW and GLOW UP WOLF’. Can you share with us the background of its creation and did any unusual things happen during its creation?

Spen and I started this project in February of 2020. As soon as lockdown ensued we knew we needed to make music. Spen would send stripped demos over. I’d work on em, send em back. Round and round we went! I think the unusual thing that happened was the pandemic and how it affected our headspace and work flow as artists…how it affected my writing, my concept of intimacy, my connection to people, my connection to myself and my connection to our music. I just can’t seem to move past the obsession I have with faulty/fleeting intimacy with people. I think it’s the counselor in me. And if you’re addicted to the internet and Instagram (and chances are you are) you’re living in this faulty world full-time, with other bored people who are only half-interested in you and everything else that slaps their eyeballs. A buffet of egocentric nonsense. And I think all of this was exacerbated tenfold during the pandemic, in turn churning out songs like the aforementioned and soon to be album.

Where do you get inspiration for the very original photos you post on your social media?

I try to keep our Insta page loose and fun and showcase some of our friends’ photography/artwork. I’ve always found that the more people you bring into a creative project the better chance it has to blossom.

Where are you from and do you have a stable home or do you prefer traveling?

I’m from New Jersey. Currently living in Los Angeles. I prefer bouncing between both coasts when possible. As far as Paultra Violet is concerned, we have over fifteen contributing musicians from across the globe on this album. From Japan to New Zealand to Philly to Germany and beyond!

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

Well, I don’t know. It’s personal to me. I’m more curious/interested as to how other people would describe it. I will say that both Bladerunner films are always in my head while creating this project. Some sort of electronically charged lustful manic journal entry under dystopian skies. How’s that? Is that too much?

Can you write what was the best performance in your career? How do you remember it?

Spen and I used to play in a band called Thing-One and there was a moment in time when we were playing three to four gigs a week, and somewhere in there, on the road, in some half-empty bar was probably my best performance. I’m looking forward to playing a lot with this new project to get back to the looseness one gets when playing often. I will say in the mid 2000’s we (Thing-One) played Bowery Ballroom and that was a fun one but I’m not sure vocally that was my best! Ha!

If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?

I adore Beach House, Men I Trust, The Flaming Lips. I would also love to open for Tyler The Creator. He’s a true artist. Perhaps on a larger-larger scale, ya know, Radiohead…of course. A boy can always dream.

Who’s your ideal musician to collaborate with and why?

Spencer Miles is my songwriting partner and he is my ideal musician to collab with! We grew up next door to each other and have worked on too many projects to count. He’s my oldest friend and brother and I love him…soon after him Joel Hunter Martin. They have both been an intricate part of this album and I wouldn’t be talking to you without them and the other musicians on the album. Getting to know someone’s brain and working together on a project is quite bonkers and rare and special and so I am grateful for those two handsome men and all that have contributed. It’s a boat load of creatives that all understand our vision and that is special. Beyond words really.15 

What are your plans for the future?

Finish the LP, play shows, try and muster up the funds for a couple music videos, and repeat this formula for the next decade at least.

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