Berlin – Raised in New York by world renown Congolese performers, Young Paris crafts a unique sound that threads the boundary between rap and electronic dance music and samples heavily from traditional African drumbeats. Along with 5 of his brothers and sisters, he performs an exuberant live show that merges dance, performance art, and an unparalleled personal style.
Best New Bands caught up with Young Paris to talk about his music, his upcoming gig in New York City and his new album.
You come from a very artistic family. How did the celebration of the arts at home translate into your own artistic statement that your fans see?
My Parents were both performing artists so one could imagine the powerful atmosphere of creativity in my household. I’ve been performing for as long as I can remember, and naturally this environment had a great effect on my art. Today i’m doing my best to translate my traditional background with the contemporary lifestyle, arts & culture.
Ultimately, what message would you like to convey through your music?
Loving oneself and creating a better connection with the world around you.
The American music scene is vastly different from European ones. What, in your opinion, are the biggest differences that you have witnessed?
Growing up, I’ve always known that everything “American” had a stamp of innovative approval. So it’s interesting to see the influence American culture has on The World when you travel. In the US, people aren’t essentially looking at other parts of the world with the interest of partaking in their culture, because most of what is pop culture today comes from a great influence of American lifestyle. Here we get our culture from ghetto/urban neighborhoods that evolved into the mainstream. Whereas there, I feel they somewhat modify the lifestyle we create into a version of their own. When I’m in Europe or other parts of the world, I’m also put on this creative pedestal and I find people are much more curious and interested in how my creative direction is impacting those here in the states.
There are a number of black artists on the scene now making music that is being described as non-traditional. What are your thoughts on defying the mold of a particular genre?
What is traditional? Traditional for me just means any lifestyle forming into a culture that creates a set of boundaries and rules to keep that certain heritage alive. This can be done quickly, or stem from something that has lasted for a long time. It depends on what “tradition” the observer is speaking of because one would say my music is traditional but non-traditional at the same time. We are going into a time where we are being exposed to similar information on a massive scale in a short period of time, and this is opening our curiosity and interest of fusing different sounds with the type of music we want to create. For example, if it weren’t for the last three years of my life I would have never known about Radiohead and today, even they are an inspiration in my music. There are elements from other genres that I may fuse with my sound because I like how they put certain patterns together. At this point, most musicians are or will be vibing off of each other for all of our combined interest in new music.
Many mainstream artists tend to veer away from socio-political issues for fear of losing fans. How has your political messages influenced your art?
I think there is always a clever way to get the same exact message across. The delivery can be hard hitting for the listener when it’s not the way they’re used to or want to receive information— especially conscious information that challenges the way society is creating the norm. My approach is putting people in a dance element where they’re already enjoying themselves. Then it becomes easier to integrate a dialogue to transmit information in a disarming way that stimulates thought. This combination for me is one of the most effective ways of touching people and making them think— which allows them to have something they really enjoy and spreads awareness at the same time.
What is your creative process when entering the studio? Do you have a blueprint that you follow?
Usually I work on the music first and the vibe of the track tells me what type of song to write. Then as I’m creating the text, I modify the beat as I go along. I come up with a chorus or bridge first then build around the track. Sometimes I work backwards as well, but usually start to finish from intro to verse-chorus and so on.
Are we currently living in an age where ‘world music’ is poised to become the new ‘new’ deal in terms of mainstream acceptance?
I think as the world expands, musicians will constantly be influenced by where the future of music is going and it wouldn’t surprise me to see more collaborations from artists around the world. In many ways, Americans who dominate the American dialect of music are still introversive in how they want to share the sounds from here with artists from other parts of the world. I noticed artists from other parts of the world are more excited about working with Americans and Americans would rather take elements of their sounds than their lyricism.
Also, I believe the way “World” music is categorized disrespects the true identity of inventive music because all of our sounds stem from all of these sounds, traditional instruments, and ways to approach, create, and master a song.
There are many artists that thrive on stage, and then there are others that excel in the studio. How would you rate yourself between these two parameters?
I have a great balance between the two, but I still have financial barriers that hold back my creative potential when producing my music— such as a strong budget to hire great musicians to incorporate with my performance and access to an orchestra. I have plans to display brilliant set designs and story telling through live art. But to answer your question, at this point in my career, I believe the performance is the most touching for me because it’s live and direct. I get to see the reactions of how viewers dive into the music in real time and most performers could agree there is no feeling that matches this.
What can fans look forward to from Young Paris in 2016?
My new record African Vogue will present the evolved sound of Young Paris. More melodic, more emotional, with more details from my life and my story. The sound has toned downed a bit to a language that is more understood and approachable to the masses. This will be ready for release close to spring, maybe early summer. I am also re-shaping and presenting the “MELANIN” brand/project that stemmed from an online hashtag series I came up with called “MelaninMonday,” which is generating thousands of impressions weekly and becoming a very popular lifestyle and culture movement. We are working on an interactive website where viewers can share gossip, content, and articles related to all peoples of color and will give consumers the option to join the Melanin movement which is built around the beauty and excellence of all peoples of color.
If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?
My father, because he is my greatest hero.
Young Paris is appearing in New York at the Highline Ballroom on January 14th. Look for his new album African Vogue this spring.
artist, writer, event organizer, and promoter. As a
freelance journalist, he has covered both the underground and
mainstream aspects of the arts, culture, music, entertainment, travel, and
fashion in several cities, including New York, London, Berlin,
Istanbul, Sydney, Bangkok, and Hong Kong to name a few. Fluent in
English, German, Dutch, and Spanish, Triston has been published in The
Huffington Post, Trespass (London), FashionTV, as
well as featured in publications such as the New York Times, Vogue
Italia, Turkish Huriyet, InStyle, and other on-line and print
magazines in the U.S. and internationally. He recently released the first volume
of his memoir on life in Europe, 'Heaux Confessionals: The
Sintroduction'. As a solo performer and with his project band $kandal
Du$t, he has toured in some of the world's most renown clubs,
simultaneously maintaining an underground renaissance,
blurring the lines of all that is traditional and leaving his
indelible, and ultimately unforgettable impression. There is no divide
- brace yourself.