Paul Blissett


Paul Blissett's superb instrumental 'Luna' reaches the ear from an almost impossibly distant place - effortlessly summoning the nostalgic instinct - and listeners all over the world find a deep resonance in its gentle yearnings.

All instruments are technically capable of melody and meter. But certain ones like the human voice and guitar are endowed with a special capacity for microtonal maneuvering that subtilizes their sound in a way pianists and percussion players can't. This invites an interesting consideration - is there something to be gained by granting full scope to just one such instrument? Paul Blissett's new single 'Luna' fully exploits the wider space made available for the string-bent fluidity of his finger technique, and the result is much more affecting than a conventionally arranged cut. Try to reconceive the song with a vocal accompaniement and it quickly becomes clear that it would lose at least some of its melodic identity to subtle but inevitable tonal contentions with the singer. Independent reporter Lily Clark recently caught up with the accomplished musician to talk about his extensive career on the Canadian music scene, his recent retirement from other avocations - and his renewed ambitions as an artist.

LILY: Let's just get this out in the open - What is the craziest thing that has happened to you in your music career?
PAUL: One of the 'craziest' experiences was a gig in which we were assigned a dressing chamber which was also a hotel room. When I went to change into my stage clothes there was a couple fully engaged on the bed - on top of my clothes bag. We ushered them out as discreetly as possible.

LILY: Did you come from a musical background? Who are your role models in music?
PAUL: I became interested in the guitar and a wide variety of music at an early age. It was a period when the guitar was already taking center stage and contributing to the style, shape and evolution of popular music and its artists. It was also a time when the air waves were saturated with instrumental music; Bill Doggett, Les Paul, Chet Atkins, The Ventures, Duane Eddy, The Shadows, Booker T and the MG's and many others were charting instrumental hits. Later the British Invasion gave us the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, further expanding the music I embraced. There were also the influences of many of the great rock, blues, jazz and country artists and guitarists that expanded my interest in a wide variety of musical genres and styles. I began learning all those great instrumentals and incorporated them in the set lists of earlier band incarnations. I worked in many different bands and actually was playing clubs in Canada, underage, at the age of sixteen. Later I began forming my own bands and worked in the more lucrative markets of conventions, music festivals, weddings and community dances. All of these influences gave me experience with a wide range of music styles. Consequently, my albums cross a variety of genres, from popular, country and rock to blues and jazz. It wasn't until I actually retired from my other professional careers that I started recording my own albums; mostly tunes that I played live for years, but also some originals. My mother always told me I would be a late bloomer!


LILY: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
PAUL: Although I could probably write a book about unusual experiences and gigs, one of the more interesting events was when we played a dinner dance at Canada's Rideau Hall (the equivalent to the White House). It was in the capital, Ottawa, and our Governor General (the Head of State) hosted all the ambassadors and embassy people. Every country was represented and the atmosphere was ultra-formal.

LILY: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
PAUL: My advice to the new and upcoming musicians adheres to what is important in the music business. It is not about being a celebrity, having fans, getting recognition or monetary rewards; it is about the music. Always focus on and respect the integrity of the music, engage with the best musicians within your network and develop your own musical style. As an artist/musician I would characterize myself as passionate about the music and dedicated to the art of songwriting and recording. As the manager of a team of talented artists/performers, I focus on the objectives at hand as well as supporting and enabling the talents of the artists working with me. In the studio, I surround myself with the best engineers and musicians available to me and always respect them as individuals and artists since they will be polishing my tracks and will be an integral part of my success.

LILY: What's next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
PAUL: I was fortunate that my first album 'Fire and Soul' began logging airplay in Canada when it was released, and the following albums 'Guitar Christmas' and 'Luna' continued that trajectory. The airplay, in addition to earning radio performance royalties, certainly does inspire the artist further, and it is pleasant to receive the validation and recognition of your music and work. There are many people out there that seem to appreciate and enjoy my music. I was pleased to be nominated as Best Blues Artist for the Artist In Music Awards which took place in Hollywood in 2014 and as Best Album:Instrumental:Blues and Best Song:Instrumental:Blues for the April 2015 Akademia Awards. Following the success of my 'Luna' album, I am now in production for my next two albums; another Christmas album and a regular one, yet untitled.

LILY: Thank you so much Paul for taking time out to speak with us about your illustrious career in music and ambitious plans for the future. You have logged a lot of time as a working musician - now it's time to reap the loftiest rewards for that effort!

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