Paul Dixon is a recent Believe Rec signee and a talented artist, who hides under the pseudonym of Fyfe. He will release his upcoming debut album in February 2015. I've met him in a café near Montmartre after his Parisian gig along with SOHN on September 22. We had a nice talk about his path into the music industry, his influences and his projects.
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Paul Dixon, I’m known by the name Fyfe and I previously been known by the name David’s Lyre. I’m from London, England. I was recently on tour with Sohn and I’m am currently touring UK with Amber Run, and have a few dates scheduled in France. [See dates here]
You’ve been signed to a Major label (Mercury Records) while you were working on your David’s Lyre project, and you’ve release an album on Bandcamp. How does this experience help you build your Fyfe project?
It massively helped. I was sort of drowning in the deep end with signing with Mercury, when I was about 19. I learnt so much from that experience: I was able to make an album that I was really proud of and I ended up doing a “pay what you want” thing with Bandcamp, which was great. I was really pleased with the result of that. It felt like the right thing to do, because the relationship with the label had ended. It worked really well and the response to the album is really good - both the critical response and the fan one. It is really positive.
In terms of how it has helped Fyfe, I think it made me realize what I need to do better. So basically I simplified everything I did, and I cut my team down a lot. I made sure I was really focused on what I wanted and that my artistic vision was really strong cause if you don’t have a vision, then you’re nothing, really [he laughs].
I really spent a long time working on sound, and ways of writing. Then I stumbled upon this sort of Fyfe’s sound and I just got round with it… And now we’re here, two years later!
Fyfe is really different from David’s Lyre, do you plan to do other songs or album with David’s Lyre as a project?
Not really, not now. I mean I might feel differently in five or ten years by. But at the moment I’m really focus on Fyfe, it takes up all my time. The thing is I’m really open to loads of other projects so I can totally see myself at some point just having another scene name or do something really different. I just want to keep it open and flexible because otherwise it’s boring – and no one wants to be boring… or bored!
You’re now signed on an independent label but do you think an artist can succeed in the music industry without labels?
Why signing to Believe, is it because it’s more convenient financially speaking…?
That’s definitely always a part of it. Actually my team, around me, felt that we found the right team in Believe. We’ve been speaking to a lot of labels for a long time. Money is important because everyone needs it, but actually we’re not looking to get rich quick or anything like that and we just wanted to find the right team to support what I was doing and we felt that [Believe] was the right place to be. So we’re quite intentional in whom we signed and we’re already happy with the decision.
Your universe and some of your songs like St Tropez reminds me of what I call his “epic pop”, in what you find in songs of Woodkid for example. How would you define your genre?
To me, it’s like hip hop meets alternative pop meets like classical. I guess “classical” is not the right word but maybe like baroque pop and also storytelling, a folk as well. When you mash all these things together…
For me it’s like early 2000 – late 1990s American hip hop culture that really got me to the sound I’m at, but that didn’t influence my songwriting. So in terms of aesthetic it’s that, and then songwriting it’s more maybe like Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith, John Martin, or Lauryn Hill.
So those are your influences?
Yeah. Well it’s difficult to pin down influences – really, because I think we’re influenced by everything that we see and hear. Then my loves are like Dr Dre, Snopp Dog, Aalyiah, Pharrell, Neptunes, Kanye West, all these great artists and band.
In your video clips, especially in “For You”, there is a great emphasis on dance. Is it a form of art that you’re interested in?
It is and isn’t. I wouldn’t say I’m like a massive dance expert but for me rhythm is really important. The beats and stuff are almost as important as the melody, not quite but they’re very important to me. When we play live, I like to move a lot and we try, for me it’s all about what it makes you feel. I love people to dance at our gigs and sometimes it happens sometimes it doesn’t. My ideal gig would be a massive amount of people dancing and having a great time. But I’m not sure what country in the world I have to go to for that to happen. We haven’t quite found the critical mass of dancers yet, we got little pockets of people moving and we like that. We haven’t quite got a whole room dancing situation.
So far, which country has the best audience?
Oh, whatever I’ll say is the wrong answer haha. I think the French crowd has been really good so far – we played here 6 times but only did one show in Paris yet. But in France when you get the right amount of people in the room, it seems like there’s quite a lot of anticipation, people are really excited for it even if they don’t know who you are, they’re like “What’s gonna come?! What is it!?”. And then they give you a chance and see. Well, that’s how my experience has been.
But best crowd I don’t know because every gig is different: you look for different things every day. It depends on how I feel and so sometimes I want a crowd to be quiet because that’s how I’m feeling that day, I’d like of sort of just sing to them, but other day I want to be really loud and rock us.
You’ve been touring with SOHN recently and will soon release your debut album. What did you learn from an artist like SOHN and artists you’ve toured with?
I’ve learned a lot. First thing, you realize almost all successful artists are very normal and very nice. You hear a lot of stories about Dick Divers and thing like that but I don’t think it’s very true until you’re maybe allowed to being like that, like a mega star. Actually you just realize that most people in the industry are really nice. Other stuff, it’s just practical like organization, especially being with SOHN, his crew is really good and really lovely. And they’ve been helping us with all aspects of what we do, we talked to the lighting technician about how she thought about her shows, we talked to one of his session guys about how he passes his Ableton session – which is a computer program, we talked to the tour manager about other event. We try to gather as much information as possible because even though I’ve been doing this a long time you’re always learning new tricks, ways to make you save money and time, which prove valuable.
What can we expect from your upcoming album?
It’s due in February 2015. Personally, I think it’s a good balance of things people know from what came already and completely new material. It’s about 50-50, which I think is quite nice. I wanted it to be the right balance. Because you don’t want an album made up of complete things that you know, but equally you wants some familiarity and historical references. Obviously up until now a lot of stuff have been quite upbeat, because it’s single but I put more variety on pace and moods. Expect some killer tunes.
If you were to collaborate with other Believe Rec artists - for Rec Sessions for example, which would it be?
Probably Breton or James Vincent McMorrow. I really like James’ recent album, it’s really chilled and it kinda got this R’n’B tune that I’m quite into and his voice is amazing. Breton I just think they’re really great and I think that’ll be really interesting to just spend time with them and see what happens.
Believe also has French hip hop artist, would you be interested in working with them?
I’d love to work with rappers, definitely. But I’m quite particular about whom, like lyrical content and… I’m not really into misogyny for example. I’ve turned down rappers before based on their content and their lyric. So we’ll see, it has to be the right fit.
Any advice for aspiring musicians?
Don’t give up what you’re doing until you get a massive break, because It’s very hard to make throughout music [industry]. Enjoy what you do every day. Do it in your spare time and make sure you don’t treat it like it’s your just when it’s not. And if you’re fortunate enough for it to become your job than, treat it like it’s not your job still, cause otherwise you’ll be depressed.
Basically just have fun with music and don’t put any pressure on yourself to make it. The percentage of people that get famous is very small, but I don’t why that would be sth deem anyway. I think you should just be able to make good music anyway and if it’s the case then that should be enough for you anyway and if that gets noticed, that’s great. But if not, you still make very good music, you know what I mean? I think a lot of young people put a lot of pressure on themselves, I think it’s unnecessary: just have fun.