Christian Paul 2024

You may have come across the viral clips of R&B artist Christian Paul singing over a nostalgic sounding production by Troy Taylor when scrolling through your IG or Tik Tok feed. We were filled instantly with the sense of soul you get from records of the 90s when we first heard the song in these videos called “Rather Be Alone”, reminding us of the core R&B singer/songwriters that we love. It seems people were equally as excited since many comments mentioned Christian bringing the sound that has been missing from music back into the mainstream. We, of course, are always looking to highlight the R&B talent that we believe in, so we knew we wanted to speak with Christian about what’s next for him (especially since the song has been stuck in our heads since the first day we heard it). After speaking with him and hearing that his true love has always been R&B/Soul music, it’s no wonder Troy Taylor supported him and made this an official record. If you’re looking for some new R&B talent that reminds you of the R&B you grew up loving, look no further.

We talked to Christian Paul about making “Rather Be Alone”, his experience with producer Troy Taylor, what to expect from his upcoming R&B project, and much more.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Introduce yourself to the readers and the people who will watch this. Tell me how you got your start in R&B and with your music in general.

Christian Paul: My name is Christian Paul, I’m 24. I was born and raised in South Alabama, a small town called Andalusia. Musically, R&B soul is my first love. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad just showing me hundreds upon hundreds of R&B songs. There’s one memory in particular that sticks out where he played Jodeci’s MTV Unplugged session for me. I listened to their cover of “Lately” by Stevie Wonder, which was actually my introduction to that song. I heard their version first and then started listening to Stevie’s. I just remember being probably 10 years old thinking I wanted to excel and grow in my skill as a vocalist that way – when I listened to KC and Jojo. I don’t know if the Lord will ever allow me to see that day *laughs*. As I got older, I started to really curate my own kind of diet of my favorite R&B artists which ended up being the likes of Maxwell, D’Angelo, MusicSoulchild and Stevie. Stevie’s a huge influence, but yeah man, I could go on.

YouKnowIGotSoul: What about some specific albums that may have influenced you?

Christian Paul: I mean some specific albums are ‘Aijuswanaseing’, ‘Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite’, ‘Voodoo’, and ‘Innervisions’. I remember when I started curating my own playlists, that’s what they were filled with. It kind of got to a point where I wasn’t listening to music that was current at the time. You know, at 15, 16, 17, I’m not really listening to new music. I love what the new R&B artists are doing, but I think undoubtedly we wouldn’t sound the way that we sound if not for what I would consider like the golden era of R&B soul.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Agreed. That’s no shade to the many great artists that are still out around, but you really have to show your appreciation for that time. Tell me a little bit about how you got your vocal ability, if I didn’t mention, I really do feel a lot of soul in your voice. So talk about just growing that.

Christian Paul: I was first an instrumentalist. My parents gifted me a drum set when I was about 4. I had a family friend come over who was a great musician. He taught me how to play drums and then he taught me guitar at 10. My older brother is a guitarist, so I learned from him, and I just slowly started learning different instruments. When I was around 10 or 11, I started attempting to sing because I had already learned some piano. I would just sit at my keyboard for hours a day just trying to expand my range. I’m YouTubing vocal agility exercises, listening to Kim Burrell and all of these other singers trying to mimic what they’re doing. Early days bro… I was not a good singer *laughs*. I’ve discovered some videos of me as an 11 year old where I’m hitting some sour notes. Not to say that that doesn’t happen today, cause it definitely does, but I’d say I really didn’t start growing comfortable as a vocalist until I was about say 15 or 16. I was in a vocal group between the ages of 14 and 15 too. One of the members of that vocal group, his name is Jackson Owens, has one of the most incredible R&B voices. Just a soulful dude with a lot of the same inspirations, but his family on top of that are just insane singers. I think being around them, hearing that level of excellence, and his dad pushing us as vocalists and whatnot was helpful. I left that group taking what I learned and diving into my influence that much more.. There was a little period there where my voice was breaking. I’m going through puberty and I lost all of my head voice, which I mean, I sing a lot in my head voice and falsetto range now. So it took some years to rebuild that.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Well thank God you got into a good place with your voice now and that you’re showing it to the world.

Christian Paul: Yeah man, I think at that time I was looking at male vocalists in popular music and seeing that they were all tenors or countertenors. You got a guy like Bruno who is just singing in the stratosphere in his chest voice. I’m like, man, that’s not me. That’s not what the Lord gave me. It’s not how he designed me, you know? So I was recognizing some legitimate limitations, but then I’m digging into Maxwell, D’Angelo and Prince. I’m seeing that these are baritones who have learned to utilize their head voice and just got so much swag, agility, and control in their voice. Sure, they’re not countertenors, but they hold their own. They’re incredible, so I just started digging into them and finding inspiration there.

YouKnowIGotSoul: We’re going to talk about you working with Troy soon, but why don’t you just tell me a little bit about making your self-titled EP. What inspired that and the sound of that time?

Christian Paul: That EP was written over the course of like two months. Right before I started working on that, I’d done some stuff that was kind of reminiscent of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. Then after that I had kind of explored more of a pop sound that had a soulful edge. Man, I think I was just still trying to find who I was artistically, you know? So, that self titled EP that was released. was me essentially saying let me get in the studio with some R&B producers and just see what comes of it. I think there are songs that are still some of my favorites… unfortunately it’s not out now. I may end up re-releasing some of those songs, but those are in the vault now. I look back and I’m like man these are really strong. Those are even some discussions that my team and I are having, like what do we do with this? Should we re release these or put these on the upcoming project?

YouKnowIGotSoul: I’m glad you mentioned there’s an upcoming project. Tell me the whole story about what made you decide to pick up your phone and post the. How you got to the official collaboration with him? Tell me the whole journey.

Christian Paul: So, I’m a believer. I love Christ. Last year I was kind of experimenting, I was trying to kind of find where I was going to land artistically just experimenting with contemporary Christian music. That was so cool and it afforded me some really awesome opportunities as well. About a week before Christmas, a guy that I really trusted on my team called me and was like “I want you to make the music you want to listen to even if it wasn’t your music”. He knew that it was R&B soul. After that conversation I just decided, I’m gonna take some weeks here to start writing the music that I wanted to hear. One day I’m just scrolling through Instagram and I saw that Troy, who I’ve been following for a little while, was on Instagram live making a beat.I think the series he was doing was a series to show producers, beat makers, how to make nostalgic instrumentals with a modern edge. That very first live was of him producing out the instrumental that ended up being “Rather Be Alone”. I saw these guys commenting on the live like “Hey Troy, send this to me and I’ll write something over it. I’ll get it back to you ASAP”. It just got my wheels turning man. I was like, I want to write something over this but it sounds like these other guys are probably going to get to it quicker than I will. So, I decided I would just screen record the beat from that Instagram live and then post it on Instagram to get Troy’s attention. So I started writing over it and I think it was maybe January 3rd I posted the first video. Troy saw it within probably 20 minutes of it being posted. He reached out and initially we were talking about “Rather Be Alone”. Being a song that was pitched out to other artists. So there was some artists that we had in mind, but then that conversation turned into, well why don’t you release it? At that point, I’m still trying to figure out what I should do as an artist, like what musical direction should I go. I’ve done all these things, but even my wife would tell you there was no other sound that I was as passionate about as the music that has always resonated most with me So, the excitement that I had about a song like “Rather Be Alone”, regardless of whether I was the one that released it or not, was just a different level of excitement than some of the other music that I’d been releasing. So after Troy goes, “why don’t you release it?”, I start shooting some content and posting it up to Tik Tok and Instagram reels to see what the response would be. It far surpassed any expectation that I had. A handful of those clips went viral on TikTok and now the label is looking at this and going “We’ve got to release this”. I think the Lord just brought us clarity about what our plan for the new year would be. This music is resonating not only just with me, but it’s resonating with other people as well. I think “Rather Be Alone” is a great representation for what the rest of this project is going to be. I’m hoping to have like a 7-8 song project released by the summer.

YouKnowIGotSoul: What else can you share about the upcoming project? Is it going to be similar sonically to “Rather Be Alone”?

Christian Paul: I think sonically, I want to remain true to my influences. The artists that have inspired me and the artists that the Lord really used to shape the way that I sing even. You’re going to hear my heavy influences in these songs. I think one thing that resonated with people about “Rather Be Alone” is that it was nostalgic of an era of music that they love and that they missed. There’s definitely going to be more of that, but I think along with that there are going to be nostalgic melodies and vocal production. Top lines with maybe a modern R&B edge in the production. The project is still taking shape, but we do know what the next single is going to be. It’s a song called “Gravity”. I don’t have the exact release date, but perhaps by the time this is posted I’ll have that over to you. One more thing about the project, you have a song like “Rather Be Alone” that is straight up a love and romance song. I got married last June to my best friend. I’m so thankful that the Lord gave me that gift. So now I get to sing about it, man. I’m going to have songs about love and romance. I’m going to have songs about my relationship with the Lord on the project. So it’s going to be a broad spectrum of themes that I’m covering lyrically but everything sonically will be R&B.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Definitely send that to the team so we can support, man.

Christian Paul: I’d like to take a moment if it’s okay to just thank Troy Taylor. Dude, what producer at his level with that career and that level of success gives practically an unknown artist the time of day? Just because I posted a song over his instrumental on Instagram. Troy has been incredibly generous with his time and just taking time on the phone to give me advice about how to navigate my career and advice on the sound that I’m pursuing. It’s been amazing man. He’s been a great mentor even at times. So, I just appreciate him because he wasn’t obligated to do that at all.

YouKnowIGotSoul: No, absolutely. I was actually going to ask you if you learned anything from Troy. So, is there anything that you really specifically learned from him? Vocally or writing wise?

Christian Paul: One of the first calls that I had with Troy I was telling him about how I was thinking through what style of music I was going to do. He could tell where my passion was, he could tell it was with R&B. I think I was really complicating things. I kind of had this idea of should I take a more secure route. I have a family, like I want to provide for my family, so I was kind of creating with that in mind. Do I need to be making more commercial music? That might have a better probability of having a market to reach. Troy was like, essentially, “Write the music that you love. The rest is going to figure itself out. The industry likes to complicate things, but this could all be very simple my friend. Just write what you want to hear”. And I did. I posted it to TikTok and he was right. My concerns about whether or not there was going to be an audience for the music that I loved, that concern was nullified. People showed up and offered their support. So, I’m really thankful for that.

YouKnowIGotSoul: I love to hear that you took that from the conversations and the experience that you had with him. Are there any more goals outside of the EP for this year? Maybe you want to do some touring?

Christian Paul: I think some tentative goals for this year in regards to music would definitely be to get some shows and do some touring. I was talking with my booking agent and we were talking about some jazz music festivals. Even with that, I started imagining like I could get a crew of musicians, maybe two or three guys to go out with, and just have a really tight band. The idea of putting together a show that way with a live band is exciting. I’d love to do some collaborations before the year is out. I’m talking with some other artists that I’m planning to get in the studio with, I just can’t say right now.

YouKnowIGotSoul: I think people are really going to gravitate towards the sound that’s coming. My last question for you, is there a specific song in your catalog that you just feel like you need to talk about that you haven’t had a chance to? Any story behind the song?

Christian Paul: That’s a great question. There’s no song in particular but I think right now the song that comes to mind is a song that we already already spoke about “Rather Be Alone”. I think that has probably been the most organic way a song of mine that has been released has ever come together. Hands down. It’s just… I wrote and recorded that song in my living room. Where I’m sitting right now. Over the screen recorded instrumental. That’s definitely my favorite story.

Rapid Fire Questions

Dream collab?
Maxwell and YEBBA

Song you wish you wrote?
“Overjoyed” – Stevie Wonder

An album you wish you were featured on?
Tori – Tori Kelly

A song that you wish you were featured on?
“Made for Me” – Muni Long

Favorite album?
‘Songs in the Key of Life’ – Stevie Wonder

Artists that we would never expect you to draw inspiration from?
Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. River Cuomo from Weezer (My older brother was in a Weezer cover band). Pearl Jam. I’m inspired by them and plenty of others in that space.