30 Seconds: Paul Thomas Saunders

Paul Thomas Saunders is a singer songwriter from Leeds whose haunting sound is a mixture of high, rasping vocal, ethereal guitar and heartbroken lyrics.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 18 Apr 2012
  • min read
Saunders' Second EP, the four-track Highland Descartes is out now and available from iTunes, Amazon and other online music stores.

M caught up with Paul for a 30 Second interview.

How long have you been making music?
I've been making music for quite some time now. When I was 11, I stumbled across a three chord loop I could play on the piano. I convinced a friend that if he helped me record it, we'd definitely get on the radio, and maybe even Top of the Pops. That particular project didn't work out, I think by the age of 12 we'd parted ways because of creative differences, and by 13, he'd accused me of plagiarism in a music lesson in front of all our peers. He had the upper hand because I was already known to be a kleptomaniac. The teacher settled it eloquently with 'copying is the highest form of flattery', It still hurts today that I was sentenced with an incorrect idiom. Teachers.

What inspired your latest E.P.?
My new EP is all about a particular character who is looking back at her life. She is ageing yet glamorous from afar, but hopelessly dissatisfied and unfulfilled. I had a short scene in my head where she would look up at the same phase of the moon that she had optimistically looked up at 20 years or so earlier, but now, she feels nothing but that harrowing sense of impending doom and remorse you get religiously once or twice a year after you've celebrated your 21st birthday. With this image in mind, I called the EP Descartes Highlands, which is the area of the moon visible from earth where Apollo 16 landed in 1972. Essentially, I wanted to soundtrack our deep rooted tug of war between neophobia and neophilia that's ingrained through evolution. Something that so many of life's failures can be blamed for.

What process do you go through to create your music?
I've co-produced all my music with my live guitarist Max Prior for the best part for four years now. We never had a method and collectively had very limited knowledge and experience, but slowly through the chaos, I feel like we're not swinging at ghosts as frantically as we have been in the past. We don't demo tracks, it takes a long time before I have a set of songs I'm confident with. I find it hard to focus unless I'm completely behind the song even in its barest form. We work from a very basic home studio with quite basic equipment, because of circumstance, we've always felt that we needed to be innovative with our arrangements to distract people from the lack of sonic quality. It's a patchy technique, but we've learned to live with it. It makes being in the studio exciting though, we've spent the last six months trying to make two toy keyboards and a guitar sound like an orchestra.

How would you describe your sound?
Like Justin Bieber slowed down 800%.

What would your dream collaboration be?
I've thought about this a lot in the past. A composition with Vangelis, produced by Joe Meek.

Where can we catch you performing next?
My next UK live date is at the Camden Crawl in London on 5 May.

Find out more about Paul Thomas Saunders here in M's Featured Artist section.