Following the viral success of ‘Lil Boo Thang’, we spoke to Paul Russell to talk real name rappers and how his hit song was a happy accident…
What five words define your sound?
Cookout music to dance to.
Tell me something unique about your creative process.
I have a note on my phone full of idioms and little phrases that I think are fun to say and whenever I sit down to write a song I usually start by pulling up one of those and trying to build a story around it.
Which song of yours would you like people to hear first?
‘Lil Boo Thang’ is definitely my most fun song and the most well known one, but ‘H4U’ just has a special place in my heart. I want to make music that helps people smile through tough situations and think it just encapsulates that idea.
What inspired you to make that song?
‘Lil Boo Thang’ came by accident – I was freestyling over the instrumental to ‘Best of my Love’ and posted a clip of it online thinking I’d never get to release it. Then when I saw how much people loved it I wrote a full song and eventually got permission to release it. For ‘H4U’, I was scrolling through instagram and saw that a girl I used to be friends with got a new job. So I just started writing what I wanted to say to her.
What’s the most vulnerable you’ve allowed yourself to be when writing/making music? What’s
the best/worst experience you’ve had on stage?
Sometimes I’ll talk about difficult experiences in the studio but they still tend to be fun sessions. But on stage I’ve had a few slip ups. I remember doing a show on a rooftop in Beverly Hills and the speakers blew out. So we got everyone to pack in closely and I sang a couple songs acapella and a couple with an acoustic guitar. Gladly a lot of the audience knew the lyrics to some of my songs so they could help sing along
What is your favourite song to perform?
Definitely ‘Lil Boo Thang’. It’s just a joyful song everyone can dance to. I remember I once did a show where the audience broke out into the electric slide while I was performing it.
Which artist/song/album made you want to make music?
‘Coloring Book’ by Chance the Rapper definitely showed me the impact an album can have on how people see themselves and how they feel. It gave me so much joy at that time in my life so I wanted to make music that meant something to people like that album did to me.
What’s the meaning behind your name?
It’s my real name! I was named after my dad, Paul Russell.
If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing instead?
I’ve got some experience in the startup world and I’m really passionate about fashion and food so I’d probably try to start my own company in one of those industries.
What’s success to you?
I feel like I’ve already succeeded – made millions of people happy around the world. I’d love to go on tour and be able to continue as a full time musician long after this song, so I guess that’s the next step I’m hoping for.
What moment in your life/career forced you to change direction?
Seeing the support for my music and seeing the way I could really have an impact on the world through music led me to quit my job and become a musician just a couple months ago. So far so good!
Where can people keep in touch with you?
I’m on Instagram as @paulrussell and TikTok as @paulrussellmusic