Paul Conrad unveils a stark cover of his original track Records

PREMIERE: Paul Conrad unveils a chilling rendition of his original track Records, talks about his #5DAYS5COVERS series and his innate sadness

Covers songs can go either way. Doing a song justice is half the task, but making it your own by turning it on its head is a whole other ball game. Over the past week, Sydney singer / producer Paul Conrad has put out five different covers of five different tracks (releasing one each day), revealing his ability to turn even the most acrobatic tracks into sombre, brooding haunts of pure musical talent.

Known for his nasal drawl and acidic tongue, Conrad burst onto the scene in early 2015 with the acerbic debut Records. For the sixth and final episode in his #5DAYS5COVERS drama, Paul has given us a rendition of the tune, one that is even more chilling than the original.

paul conrad records

Over the past five days Paul Conrad has revealed a string of covers ranging from KoRn and Kings of Leon, to Jeezy and Halsey, with a rendition of his own tune Records to top it all off. We asked him a few questions about the whole process, his frame of mind and the technical haunt which he calls his recording studio.

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HAPPY: The six covers you chose span a pretty wide variety of genres and emotional bases – what lead to their selection?

PAUL CONRAD: It’s an assortment of reasons ranging from, but not limited to; the ease in which I felt I could cover a song; the ones I felt I would be least inclined to butcher; songs that I essentially just liked and felt influenced me in some way; songs that are culturally relevant online and are (shamefully so) more likely to induce views and plays; the fact that i’d be playing around with a beat & some synths and somehow end up with the hook of another song in my head for some obscure unknown reason. In terms of emotional bases, they all ultimately achieve the same thing and extract emotion.

I don’t think people realise that music isn’t as vast a spectrum as people think it is. They all essentially follow the same premise. Yes, i’m sorry to say that O.T. Genesis harvests the same emotional reaction for me and potentially others as that of Tonic or Halsey. It’s notes, words, rhythms and frequencies all extracted from the same egg that is ultimately known as science and birthed as art.

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HAPPY: Are you a honest fan of each of the originals or did you feel each lent itself to your own style / skill sets?

PAUL CONRAD: I believe I am. I think each of the songs managed to capture my attention enough to the point that they found a place in my head and usually that’s typically reserved for things I have a fondness of. I do however think that part of me felt that these songs did encapsulate some facets of my style regardless, which I suppose I found reassuring and comforting in the process feeling some degree of familiarity in terms of the temperament of the songs and the ideas, which beckoned. For example I found that reincarnations could all sit around a similar tempo and suit a drawn out half time feel, conducive to hip hop or trap. The grandeur of nostalgic tape synths & strings seemed to be fitting or reminiscent of the lyrical content, nostalgic in a way, a number of the songs being songs I heard growing up and the retrospective rebirth felt contemporaneous to some of music sentiments.

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HAPPY: You produced, recorded and mixed all six tracks – can you tell us a little about your recording setup? Do you feel like this style of recording affected the tracks in any particular way?

PAUL CONRAD: I have a fairly extensive setup. I run off pro tools. have an assortment of great UAD plugins. a nice Chandler Limited preamp I use for vocals with ADL tube compressor & Beezneez Jeszebel mic. I side chain drums through a nice shadow hills vendergraph compressor, then just run the whole mix through IGS S-Type compressor. I use Roland JD-XI synth a lot and as for guitars, I suppose just my Rickenbacker always does the trick.

In terms of recording by yourself, you generally end up with the songs sounding how you want them to sound. You utilise your strengths and weaknesses accordingly. Might they come out better with additional outsourced help? Perhaps? Better, but not necessarily how I would like them to sound. I suppose with regards to how they ultimately manifested themselves, the fact that I had anything to do with them is essentially going to sit within my propensity for darker, more ominous sounds. It’s just liberating creating things without someone telling you what to do. As an artist, that freedom is all you have at the end of the day.

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HAPPY: The stripped-back, piano version of Records really allows the vehemence of the original to shine through, especially in the lyrics, can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind the track?

PAUL CONRAD: I think stripping this song back is kind of symbolic of what I suppose the industry once was, that which was about the artist and the raw nature of their talent uninhibited by any form of commercial exploitation or manipulation. The inspiration for some of the lyrics in parts is largely to do with the experiences I have had and observed amongst others in conjunction with creative souls hindered by the constructs and expectations of a world dissimilar to that of the artist.

I feel as though at times, the only way to be heard as an artist is to somehow die and exist posthumously via your songs. Everyone is a good bloke once they’re dead right? I don’t think my animosity towards others, particularly those in the music or entertainment industry is any real secret, but to reiterate, I harbour a great deal of distaste for those that choose to stifle and belittle creative innovation as well as those that seek to perpetuate mediocrity and vapidity.

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HAPPY: All of the covers seem to harness an innate darkness – is this something you revel in musically, or was it just a product of the ‘cover’ process?

PAUL CONRAD: I don’t think it’s exclusive to the covers. It seems to be something that has the tendency to shine through no matter what I’m doing. Even whilst eating breakfast, my corn flakes find me to be a sad lowly individual.

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