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Interview with Paranorm

[ Conducted in January 2003 ]

Recently former Grand Royal recording artist, Paranorm took some time away from his busy schedule to speak with about his many endeavors. From his time spent at Grand Royal to his upcoming new album, we were lucky to have had this opportunity to learn so much from this man. For example, Paranorm's perspective and insight into the ever evolving music business world is of particular interest.

You are friends with both Ian C. Rogers as well as Michael Diamond. How did you get to know them both?


I met Ian back in Indiana around 1988. We both skated and he would come up to skateboard in my city. He could rock mosquito airs from what I remember. Then I didn't see him for like another 4 years until I went to college downstate. When I got there, we linked up and have been good friends ever since. He graduated before me and moved to Los Angeles in 1995, so I didn't see him much from 1995 to 1998. In 1998 I needed a change, so I got a one way ticket and made my way to Ian's floor in Santa Monica, CA. I eventually met Mike D and a whole cast of characters through Ian that year.

When you first came to California were you already armed with demo beats and lyrics to shop around?

When I first got to Los Angeles, I came out with a backpack of finished and unfinished material: 70 to 90 songs. I was so excited to be coming to California that the day before I left (which was also the day after my grandfather's funeral). I was so pumped to live life that Dj Strictnine and I kicked out 8 completed songs. Several of those went on to be re-vamped and later made into the Mic Reaction Blow Up Factor 12".

At what point did you approach Mike D with the material that later became the Blow Up Factor DJ Srictnine and Paranorm Grand Royal 12"?

When I got to Los Angeles, I started making custom demos for all the people I was going to talk to. I remember one day even going to Zach De La Rocha's house and making him listen while he was in the process of playing video games. From surfers to gang bangers, I was trying to get anyone I could to listen. The industry was pretty responsive, but I wanted instant gratification. I then ended up going to Tick and Mark Kates. Tick was (at that time) one of our biggest supporters and was very influential in getting me hooked up. So after Mike D and Kates ok'd the demo they wanted to put it out right away. They actually just wanted to put out the demo versions we had recorded, but I wasn't going for that. The sound quality wasn't so hot on the four track we made it on, so we went into G-Son and recorded everything brand new and almost finished the 4 songs in one session.
We were scheduled to go back and finish the record, but the engineer Brian Foxworthy killed himself. Our 2 inch reel to reel tape disappeared and was never to be seen again. At that point, we were scheduled to come out first in the Grand Royal Blow Up Factor series followed by the Beastie Boys 12". Then the label switched it around and thought it would be better if the Beasties went first and the less known acts, like us and Lif were to come after that. That gave us some time to record the 12" all over again. The recording took place in Ian's living room on a digital 8 track, with no effects or compression other than what we used on the Ensoniq ASR10. If you listen close, I think you can here Zoe running around in the background on some of the songs.
After we finished the new stuff and turned it in, they delayed that 12" release for over a year. During that time we made an entire Grand Royal full length album, but never turned it in. I also recorded The God Vs The Devil 12" back in Indiana as well as a Paranorm solo album. All that stuff is just sitting in my closet right now. I'm serious when I say that between me and Dj Strictnine we've got well over 200 songs completed. I give them to friends now a days as gifts.

Five years ago people were predicting that the Internet would change the music industry. In those five years you have released a 12" on a world renowned label (Grand Royal) as well as on an indie label (Fistfullayen). Now you're selling albums direct from your website. Has the industry really changed or does an artist still need to have a major label's backing in order to be deemed a success?

The internet has definitely changed the music industry. It has forced the majors to be on their toes, because their margin for error and wack acts is getting smaller. It is forcing them to make better decisions on how to use the internet and not abuse or underestimate the fans who still buy music at the record store. It's also forcing them to give the consumer more value for staying loyal and purchasing a physical cd or record and that I like. If I'm going to spend money on buying the album, then the packaging, content, & etc. had better be worth it. Otherwise, I'm just going to get it off the internet and burn it myself. So to answer your first question, yes, the industry has changed. Yet, at the same time the consumer (and his outlets) has changed forcing the record industry to actually fight for your dollar instead of just pissing on the artists and consumers like they had done in the past.
I personally don't care whether my next record comes out on a major or indie label, as long as I know that label has the resources to work the record how it's supposed to be worked. Some indie labels that I've worked for are just as incredible as a few of the majors, so it comes down to whether the people know what they're doing or not. The success of the artist is going to depend on the resources used and the amount of exposure that particular artist gets in return, and not solely on the major or indie label status. Of course, the scale is a great deal different when it comes to major label money vs indie money. However, you get my point.

Offhand do you remember any humorous stories about the time you spent working for Grand Royal?

Working there was fun most of the time, because you never really knew what to expect. I guess one of the highlights would be me watching The Kottenmouth Kings dance around in an A&R's office to some of their cuts. It almost made me cry. I didn't know who was wacker: Craig Aaronson or The Kottenmouth Kings.

How did you feel about the end of Grand Royal as a label? And, in your opinion were there any albums or artists that Grand Royal should have put out, but did not?

In my opinion, the label had just run its course. Over the years, some of the most creative and dedicated people on earth, like The Tick, worked hard to make Grand Royal what it was and to bring cool stuff to the world. They heavily influenced pop culture, opened the eyes of millions of people, and basically changed everything they touched into something dope...even when the stuff really wasn't that tight. I'm happy that I was able to be a part of that group, even if my time there was near the label's end. As far as artists, I would've liked to have seen The Artifacts re-united for a Grand Royal release or something. That would've been some legendary shit.

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