Paulo Lara

Sao Paulo, Brazil native Paulo Lara has had a career that spans the musical galaxy - from garnering 4-star reviews from Brazilian, American and European magazines in the late 90's for his work work in the metal band "Kroumlesh" to a nomination in 2005 at the 8th Brazilian Music Visa Awards, singing edition. He's developed five records leading up to today (La Folia, Left to Drift, Paulo Lara ao Vivo, Polaris and Bourbons), and now brings us "Estrela de Mil Pontas", a collection that Lara has been working on for many, many years. He says "I hope my listeners can enjoy it just as much as I did when writing it and recording. They will find several different styles and influences there. I decided to write some songs in Portuguese, others in English, and some using both languages. It’s a CD that basically talks about love and our responsibility in making things right."

As you might imagine, Paulo's musical style is difficult describe, having worked in genres from metal to world music. He does the best job laying it out however: "My music is a mixture of different influences, ranging from pop music, to world fusion and a bit of progressive rock as well. And I like experimenting with sounds, styles and textures. I know that everyone is out there working hard because they believe in something – a dream, a purpose, a greater cause, or just for the sake of having fun. As for me, I want to write something that is meaningful, clean and positive. I believe Music has the power to touch people’s hearts, and somehow make a difference." Excellent stuff. You'll be hearing more about Lara, as he has just won the "Music for the Earth" contest, with his tune "Better World". Check that out, and "Estrela de Mil Pontas", as well as his schedule as he supports this work. There's much, much more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ's.

XXQs: Paulo Lara

PensEyeView.com (PEV):  How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Paulo Lara (PL): My music is a mixture of different influences, ranging from pop music, to world fusion and a bit of progressive rock as well. And I like experimenting with sounds, styles and textures. I know that everyone is out there working hard because they believe in something – a dream, a purpose, a greater cause, or just for the sake of having fun. As for me, I want to write something that is meaningful, clean and positive. I believe Music has the power to touch people’s hearts, and somehow make a difference. In a world that talks too much about pleasure and a hedonistic lifestyle, I believe that talking about having a purpose in Life doesn’t sound exactly mainstream, if you know what I mean.

PEV: Born in a small town inland of Sao Paulo, Brazil, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?

PL: I didn’t listen to many Brazilian artists when I was a kid. My parents would listen to singers like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, or bands from the seventies, like The Carpenters, etc. But I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, David Bowie and other pop artists from the 70s and 80s. Later on, I was really into progressive rock music - Yes, Rush, Renaissance, Genesis, PFM, Gentle Giant, Jefferson Airplane, Jethro Tull, etc. If I had to name a few artists that hugely influenced me, they would be:  Michael Jackson, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Portuguese group Madredeus.

PEV: Tell us about your first ever live performance.

PL: Well, it happened when I was around 12 years old. I had a rock band called Strangers, and we made a short participation in an event. The band that was playing there that night let us play a couple of songs. I remember feeling anxious and also excited. Of course we were very raw then (laughs).

PEV: What was it like for you when you first started out and making the transition to professional musician?

PL: It was more or less when I was 15. I started working for a Music school called Amadeus Mozart, in my hometown. I remember we used to play at weddings, parties, several different types of ceremonies, concerts, etc. Not only did I see Music as a passion and a calling, but I was also taking things very seriously at that point, studying Music almost 24/7 and seeing it as a paid job too.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”?

PL:  I am grateful for having many important milestones over the years. Maybe the first one was when I had a heavy metal band called Kroumlesh, back in 1997, and we started getting a lot of attention and great reviews all over the world (from Brazilian, American and European magazines). We had the opportunity to be the opening act for some established bands, such as German heavy metal band Gamma Ray, and others.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Paulo Lara show?

PL: A lot of energy, excitement and songs carefully chosen. I want to give people more than what they are expecting. So, for example, I’ll always come up with a different arrangement for a song, or special instruments, lyrics - trying to involve people in an atmosphere that is at the same time energetic and intimate.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

PL: When I step on stage I want to give people my best, and I pray that my music may touch their hearts and somehow encourage them to make a difference in the way they live and love. I want to have a good time and want them to enjoy it just as much.

PEV:  What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

PL: I believe inspiration is something that ultimately comes from God. The artist is just a vessel that shapes it into words, sounds and music. Personally, it may be things or situations that I go through, people I know or my point of view about the world, about Life. Also, very often my best ideas for music and lyrics come to me through dreams. I actually dream of songs all the time; I wish I had a “dream-recorder” planted in my brain to help me remember them more easily when I wake up.

PEV: Tell us about your latest release. What can fans expect from this work?

PL: “Estrela de Mil Pontas” is a CD I had been working on for many years. I hope my listeners can enjoy it just as much as I did when writing it and recording. They will find several different styles and influences there. I decided to write some songs in Portuguese, others in English, and some using both languages. (You can find the lyrics and translations on www.myspace.com/paulolara.) It’s a CD that basically talks about love and our responsibility in making things right.

PEV: Recently you won the contest Music For The Earth with your song, “Better World”. How did this all come about and tell us about the response so far.

PL: I was very excited to hear the news! It’s such a great honor and pleasure. When I wrote “Better World”, I always had this idea, that I wanted to write a song about the planet, environmental issues and stuff like that, but not from a political point of view. My idea was to write something that could express an internal commitment to Life. So far, the feedback I’ve been getting is amazing – people write to me making very nice comments, I’ve got some great reviews and incredible things are still about to happen.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Paulo Lara?

PL: Well, I don’t know, from a professional perspective that I started out singing as a lyric tenor and that I sang heavy metal for several years. From my personal life, that I am a single parent of an 11 year old boy; and that I also graduated in Languages and had a Masters degree in Literature.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew you wanted music to be a large part of your life, if not the biggest part?

PL:  I guess I’ve always felt that way about Music, from the very beginning.  In my heart I’ve always known that Music was my calling. Of course, making things happen, professionally-wise, juggling with time to balance personal life, work, and music projects is totally different story. It takes not only your heart and soul, but also lots of time and hard work.

PEV: What one word best describes Paulo Lara?

PL: Commitment.

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

PL: Being on the road is challenging, as you spend so much time away from home and from your loved ones. And it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. But of course it’s a totally rewarding experience to be out there, sharing your music, knowing different people and their culture, relating to them through music.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

PL: I have just recently released my new album, so I’ll start traveling and playing with this new album soon. I don’t have a specific place I’d like to visit, but I’m always interested in visiting new places and learning about them.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

PL: My family and friends have been very supportive and understanding. Last time I played in my hometown was in 2009, with a pop blues project I had at the time, and it was fantastic! It was great to see many old faces and to play for them again after many years. I was excited to be there, and they were very happy to check out the music I was up to back then.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

PL: I am a person with simple habits. In my spare time, you can probably find me riding my bike, having coffee with friends, listening to music, reading, going to the movies, spending time outside with my son, or just relaxing at home.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

PL: Well, I am sure the artists I am going to mention have been out there for a while, but I think they are doing an extraordinary job, and deserve even greater attention: Mew, Muse, The Swell Season, Madredeus & a Banda Cósmica; Brazilian singers: Ceumar, Céu, and Roberta Sá; and pop rock band Megarex, etc.

PEV: If you were not playing music now what do you think you would be doing as your career?

PL: Well, the idea of not playing music has NEVER crossed my mind; but if I had to do so, I would be probably writing, translating, or teaching Literature - pursuing an academic career.

PEV: So, what is next for Paulo Lara?

PL: Really soon I’ll be getting ready to go on tour to promote my album “Estrela de Mil Pontas”. And I have been already working on several new songs for my following album - which will be a mix of worship and positive Christian-friendly songs, with a heavier sound.

For more informations, check out www.paulolara.com and on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paulo-Lara/141480412580068?sk=app_2405167945

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