The multi-talented, versatile Pauli Lovejoy is not simply a musician. Seeing himself rather as a “vibration therapist”, he interweaves soundscapes and visuals for artistic explorations that reach all senses. Working on his own sound under the name Pauli The PSM, as well as collaborating with the biggest names in the business, he is a drummer, producer, creative director, DJ, and more. Currently, he is working as the musical director and percussionist for Harry Styles’ LOVE ON TOUR — and opened for a show at Wembley Stadium as well.
After first establishing a relationship with the Ben Sherman brand over a decade ago, the duo take their connection up a notch with the Ben Sherman Global Artist Foundry. The initiative offers a support system for artists, musicians, and creatives with the goal of fostering creativity at every level of success. Working with unsigned, breakthrough, and well-established talent, they encourage individuality and create exciting collaborations. It is no wonder, therefore, that a SS23 B by Ben Sherman campaign features Pauli Lovejoy. A vibrant, beautifully shot short film, it features a Pauli The PSM original composition, “Paulinho Abacaxi” — written exclusively for the campaign.
We had the honour of speaking with Pauli Lovejoy about working in a cross-disciplinary mindset and the origins of his connection with the Ben Sherman Global Artist Foundry.
Watch the campaign…
Stream the new Pauli The PSM single, “Saucy (ft. Ariza)”…
Read the interview…
It’s a very hectic time for you! How are you feeling with everything going on?
I feel like I’m in a simulation. This isn’t real life. Today is day one of four sold out shows at Wembley, and on the fourth night, I’m opening for Harry as well. So it’s a bit of a trip. When am I going to wake up from this simulation?
When did you start creating music and what made you fall in love with the art form?
So my parents would always listen to music in the house, which is a generic answer, as everyone’s parents generally used to listen to music, but I guess the difference was, it was always on records, on vinyl. So I remember vividly seeing specific record covers. There was one record cover in particular, it was a Grover Washington Jr. album, the one that has “Just the Two of Us” on it. And it is literally the sexiest album cover ever. It’s just a saxophone by a swimming pool. And it’s got the sunlight hitting it in this crazy way, reflecting off of the brass of the instrument. I think that was the first time I was like, “What is that instrument? How can I engage with it?”.
And I remember going to the theatre quite a lot as a child as well. My mom would take us to see plays every Christmas. So we’d go to a musical or go see a pantomime. And I remember being like, “Where’s the music coming from?” I’d always go down to the pit and look at all the instruments being played there. I was like, “Oh, how can I do that?” And, again, I saw the saxophone. And I was like, “I want to do that one”. So yeah, my first instrument was not actually the saxophone because my mouth hadn’t developed enough to be able to play the saxophone, so I had to start with clarinet, and then eventually worked my way to the saxophone.
Then when I got to secondary school, they had this option of being able to do music lessons in school, but all the cool kids were like, “Nah, I’m gonna play drums and guitar”. And the saxophone seemed a bit lame. So, trying to be cool, I started playing the drums. And then I never really looked back.
It’s interesting how the origins of your love for music came from the intersection of music and other art forms (i.e. album cover, theatre) — which really feeds into how you work across disciplines. How do you balance all of those different parts to your artistry?
I think they are all one in the same. I don’t think you can separate them. I think that’s the whole thing of creativity — one thing doesn’t work without the other. The art forms symbiotically feed one another. So even like, an abstract example could be culinary arts and food. Without food, you can’t physically live — that’s fuel for your body. And the better the art of the food is, the better you’re gonna feel in your day to be able to perform as a musician, as a painter, whatever it is that you do. So I don’t know, I just don’t ever see any separation from the visual arts to the musical side, they’re all the same. I think it’s all just frequency, like even the light spectrum is a spectrum of frequency. So I don’t even see myself as an artist, but more of a vibration therapist. I conjure visions, it’s not about the art form. Whether it’s visual, or whatever the medium is, it’s about those vibrations, and being conscious of them. And then being able to succinctly put them into a package, which is what we consume as music, video, whatever it is.
And so how does that kind of then work into your relationship with fashion? And with the Ben Sherman campaign? How did that come about?
The Ben Sherman thing was really birthed out of a relationship between myself and the then Creative Director of Ben Sherman. I was working with a band called Gorillaz and working on all of Damon Albarn’s solo work. And we did this album, and he was like, “would you be willing to wear suits?”. And I was like, sick, where am I gonna get a suit from? And it kind of was like low hanging fruit. It was so accessible to go to Ben Sherman. I didn’t have to go to Savile Row, I didn’t have to go to a weird place that felt uncomfortable. I literally just messaged a friend I met in a club who was the head of marketing. And she was like, “Just go into a store and they’ll tailor you a suit. And it was as simple as that. And ever since then, I just love the fact that this company makes something quite ostracising so accessible. So that was my introduction to the world of Ben Sherman. I wore a suit on stage for a year with Damon. That was maybe ten years ago now.
So it’s been a long relationship.
Yeah, and you know, like any relationship, there’s moments when you don’t speak for years. But when you come back, it’s like nothing ever changed. It’s kind of like that.
So how did you get involved in the Global Artist Foundry and how does that align with your personal goals?
I think now that I’m working so much more on my own music, I’m always looking for ways to connect with brands on a very authentic level. And I think Ben Sherman is very honest with the way that they approach the arts, they haven’t told me that I have to post X amount of things, there’s not a load of requirements. It’s more like, “We just support music and we support artists. And this is how we can facilitate what you’re doing”. I just like the hands off approach on my artistry, and while at the same time being aligned on emotional values. They just let me be me. And they make cool clothes.
I would love to hear about the score, “Paulinho Abacaxi”, that you created for the video. What was that creative process like?
I was in Brazil and, again, just had a really good relationship with the creative director. It made sense to have a conversation about creating the soundtrack to the visual as opposed to using some generic royalty free music, which is what a lot of ads and campaigns use. So I was like, “How can I put my stamp on this? The most authentic thing that I can do is just create from based on where I am right now”. And at that moment, I was in Brazil. I was in Rio looking over the beach and the ocean and I saw this guy selling pineapples. And in Brazil, they were calling me Paulinho, as opposed to Pauli. I think Paulinho means little Pauli. And I saw the pineapple guy, and abacaxi is pineapple in Portuguese. So I was just like, little Pauli pineapple. That was the name of the track. And that’s the vibe that I had, it was just a good fun track based on literally what I could see: myself and pineapples in Brazil.
Between this and many others, you’ve done some incredible collaborations across various art forms. What gets you excited about working on a collaboration and how do you decide which projects to work on?
That’s a great question. I think, for me, it’s all about connection at a soul level. I need to feel connected to the project, and also feel like I need to be able to add value. It’s the worst thing in the world to take on a job where you’re just taking from the job. I want to be able to add value and make the people that I’m working with feel seen and heard and make sure that I can amplify the message. If I can’t do that, then I want to take on another job. The job I’m working on now, Love on Tour, I knew that I aligned with what they stand for. And I’m able to amplify that message through what I do in my day to day. It just aligns with who I am as a person. So I want to make sure I take that through every project that I work on.