Following the release of her single Come Back, we caught an interview with artist and songwriter Paola Proctor to find out more about her journey so far and her plans for the future. Here’s how it went.
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Hi Paola, thanks for the interview! Where are you based right now, and how are things?
I am currently based in Nashville, TN in the United States and it has been an interesting year to say the least. 2020 has proven to be a strange time for everyone; Nashville in particular has seen a lot of hard times because in early March we had a devastating tornado roll through the city. There were plenty of volunteer efforts to help with tornado relief but one of the biggest things the city was counting on was St. Patrick’s Day weekend festivities to bring in a lot of money into the city. It would have been great to further tornado relief efforts, but it just so happened that St. Patricks Day weekend was the start of the COVID shutdowns.
Sorry to hear that, it’s not been a good year for most people and places sadly. Hopefully things start looking up soon.
Congrats on the release of Come Back – brilliant song, a great introduction to your music. What can you tell us about the single – how did it come to be, and what does it mean for you?
I’m so thrilled you like the song! So, towards the later part of 2019 I was seeing this guy and things were going really well. We were getting to know each other, spending a lot of time together and I was really happy with how things were going. So, ironically enough, once I was happy in my romantic life I had three ex-f*ckboys try to start talking to me again. One had a girlfriend and lived in a different city than me, the second guy ghosted me for several years and the third guy would only speak to me over text; he refused to speak to me in person after we had a small misunderstanding. I know I’m not the only one who has had this happen, I found it hilarious that somehow all three of these guys decided to reach out to me around the same time. It’s like there’s something in the air when that happens. So I wanted to write about my experience when they always Come Back, and hope people can relate to the irony.
The song has a huge chorus, mighty vocals from you – are you vocally trained? And who would you say has influenced or inspired you the most to perform in this way?
Thank you very much, I’ve been told I have a loud voice! Yes, I am a classically trained vocalist; I started classical singing lessons when I was in 5th grade and started making the transition into contemporary singing in college. Singing any genre is going to have the same mechanics as classical (or at least it should if you want to have a voice by the time you’re 40), it’s just a stylistic difference.
As for influences, my family listens to all sorts of music. I grew up listening to everything from Christina Aguilera, to Tina Turner, to The Who and everything in between. Being exposed to so many different genres of many different eras deeply impacted my style as a performer. Females, in particular, who had powerful voices left impressions on me.
Christina Aguilera was the first artist I remember being in awe of, and then as I got older I started learning about who her influences were, like Etta James, and tried to absorb anything I could learn from these incredible females.
The instrumental is brilliantly unique, a little industrial but with an organic twist of guitar. Do you self-produce and do you play any instruments or focus more on the vocal / lyrical side of things?
I had the pleasure of working with Serge Petrenko on this track. He and I had been producing music for TV/Film and I loved his style and his use of ear candy. I asked him if he’d be interested in creating a track for me that included some non-conventional genre blending. He was very open to the idea and enjoys a good challenge as much as I do. I had the concept of Come Back but hadn’t written the song yet so he created a very basic track for me to write lyrics and melody over. Then we had a production session where we experimented with incorporating latin instruments like the Kalimba and the Guiro.
I am not an engineer so Serge focuses on production, mixing, and mastering and I mainly focus on lyrics and melody.
How long have you been in Nashville, and in what ways has the world’s musical capital affected the way you create and perform?
I have been in Nashville, TN for almost three years now, it’s been a nice change after living in Miami, FL for six years. It’s a growing city that I’m excited to be a part of and because it’s growing, Nashville is becoming more than just a country music scene. With EDM and pop music starting to scratch the surface, I’ve been leaning into latin-pop because it helps me stand out more. Also, it enables me to showcase my bi-cultural background, showcase my Spanish and is ideal because latin music is my favorite genre to perform.
Is there a longer project in the pipeline?
I have a merchandise line that my incredible media manger, Shelly Morse, designed and developed for the release of Come Back. It will become available for purchase very soon!
I also have another release in the pipeline and it will actually be my first heart-break song. I had written heartbreak songs before but didn’t feel like they were the right songs to release. Then, one day I was in a writing session with Golden West and Ryan Sorestad and we wrote something that we were planning on pitching to another artist. The more we all listened to the demo, however, the more we all came to the conclusion that it was something that I needed to release personally.
What ways have you found to stay creative and busy during a difficult 2020, particularly given the impact on the music industry and live shows?
I have been binge-listening podcasts and reading like crazy during quarantine. I’ve had to create a new structure and I’ve been doing my best to stick to it including exercising regularly, eating healthy whole foods, and just being mindful of anything that my body consumes. I’ve also been getting remote musical work anywhere I can, it’s not ideal but it gets the job done.
What’s something about you that most people don’t know?
I’m extremely sensitive and cry often, I just make sure not to cry in front of most people. I have a tendency to come off cold but it’s only because I’m selective in what I allow myself to care about. I feel things very intensely; so if I accidentally hurt someone’s feelings or upset someone I care about, it’s soul crushing to me and damn near debilitating. I would never in a million years intentionally hurt someone I care about, that’s not who I am.
Even something as silly as my favorite TV shows have been heartbreaking because I become so emotionally invested in the characters. The Walking Dead, for example, is notorious for making me cry. That show alone has made me sob and grieve over the loss of many of my favorite characters…it’s brutal.
If you could sit down for a chat with anyone at all, past or present, who would you choose, and what would you ask them about?
It’s been a long-term goal of mine to take Ronda Rousey out for lunch one day. I started training in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) in the summer of 2012 and have been a HUGE Rousey fan since 2013 when she became the first female champion of the UFC. She is a huge role model for me and I just adore who she is, what she’s done for women’s sports, and how she has shattered glass ceilings for women everywhere. I had the honor of meeting her in 2015 at the Glendale Fighting Club and had never experienced being star struck until I met her. She was fortunately really cool about it.
I’m throwing it out into the universe that WHEN I take her out to lunch one day I’d love to talk to her about her experience being catapulted into the public eye, if that affected her mental health, how she would recommend someone find happiness in the entertainment industry, and what advice she would give to someone who’s looking to break more glass ceilings for women.
What’s your favorite lyric from the new single, and why?
The opening line “There must be a sign over my head…lets you know when I’m moving on, after you’re gone.” I think it depicts the exact feeling I’ve had every time an ex tries to talk to me once I’ve finally moved on. I joke with my friends that they must subscribe to an imaginary newsletter because without fail they try to pick up where they left things off. I find it humorous at this point in my life that there’s still plenty of “adults” who don’t take accountability for their actions and would rather act like children and play pretend than to grow up and face the consequences of their actions head on. Age does NOT equate maturity…unfortunately.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
It’s been a goal of mine to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and I hope 2020 has made people understand the importance of mental health practices. Despite it being a really strange and tough year, I hope people come out of this experience being kinder to each other and themselves. I want people to understand that its okay not to be okay and most importantly that it takes a great amount of courage to get help.
Mental health is something I’ve personally struggled with, I’ve been through some traumatic experiences and it’s something I am deeply passionate about making normal. I think we’re doing better than we have in previous years but still have a long way to go before it’s a common part of society. I want it to be completely normal for people to discuss going therapy or group sessions or whatever helps someone cope with the inevitable curve balls that life will throw at you.
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