Possessed by Paul James
Session Date: 7/1/2019
Session Location: Cloverlick Banjo Shop - Fort Collins, CO
Meet Konrad, aka Possessed by Paul James. Konrad grew up in South Florida, and currently resides in Kerrville, TX. He started out playing violin around the age of 10, and picked up other instruments ((guitar, bass, viola, etc.) from there. He began busking around the age of 20, and the started playing open mics. He has been performing as Possessed by Paul James since 30.
“I was writing when I was young. Say 13, journaling, ya know? From there started writing songs to melodies, covering Poison songs, ha ha. Then around 22, 23, songs started becoming an outlet and grounded in expressing ideas, highs, and lows. I was already involved in non-profit work by 21, so the journeys of social services and working with teens in crises had already begun to find an outlet in songwriting. I think from there it became even more introspective in regard to life experiences, polarizing questions, relationships, etc. Writing or playing at home or on the street became a greater identity. Performing, however, was not a focus.”
Songwriting tends to vary a lot from musician to musician. Konrad tends toe gin with vocal melodies, the finds the chorus and hook through the guitar or the piano. When looking for melodic accompaniment, Konrad says it’s always the fiddle that finds a way. From there, he finds the words that accompany the feeling of the music.
Konrad draws influence from Richie Havens, Joe Cocker, Midnight Oil, Pete Seeger, Nina Simone, Christian McBride, Oscar Peterson, Big Mama Thornton, Ramblin’ Jack, Howlin’ Wolf, etc. Rural Roots music. “Swamp cajun clogging such as in my area of the Everglades.” Small town church music, social discontent and activism within music. “Recently the platform for our music is to continue and advocate for Special Education services and adequate services for both students'/families and teachers. Now more than ever it feels necessary to advocate for what is right and just, regardless of the inner demons, music creates a platform to share a story and song which can benefit a situation.”
I always love asking for a funny/memorable story from the road or from the stage. PPJ answered “Oh man, well generally I close my eyes and get lost in my head. For me, when we open up and see a crowd crying, laughing, kissing one another, coming up on stage, kicking in a green room or bathroom door to say howdy, ya know it goes some place with the energy we’ve all just created. It’s never directed towards me. It’s not a reflection of what I have just done but rather what WE have just accomplished. That’s not me being fake. That’s just the way the music seems to come about when we’re sharing it with others. For real, it’s an uncomfortable thing to get up in front of strangers. I can teach and speak about SPED and education 24/7, but music performance seems a little unnatural. Rather, sharing music, collaborating with the crowd, servicing others in song that is relatable is what we’re about.
I do remember one show in Frankfurt, Germany where the chair just gave out on me while fiddling. I fell back hard on my back, legs in the air, and just kept fiddling with eyes closed. All I could hear was the crowd screaming and hollering, cheering on the situation until we found a proper space to close. Ha, I had to just lay there a bit and take in the situation. People appreciate the struggle and the effort and most importantly, the attempts to in conveying sincerity. Even if ya feel like an ass inside, ya have to convey appreciation and thankfulness. Even if the crowds make you feel anxious and uncomfortable, you need to persevere in understanding the position music has put you in. You either choose to be a narcissist within music, or you choose to prioritize the WE and it is truly all about the WE.”
Currently, Konrad is in the process of pushing a documentary called ‘When it Breaks’. This film is in collaboration with Milk Products Media and is screening all across the country. Tours will continue, with returns to Europe and Australia.. There will be a new album to be (hopefully) released in in 2020. “At the heart of everything is how to find balance between family, teaching, and music. It’s not about being on top of the the mountain but rather how to appreciate the valley and balance, while always enjoying the present.”
Possessed by Paul James